Jodi was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma more than 20 years ago, on December 27, 1999. She was only 26 years old. Despite being diagnosed around the holidays, Jodi focuses on spending time with her family and the meaning of Christmas.


Diagnosed at Christmastime

The day before Christmas Eve in 1999, Jodi was in the doctor’s office. Her doctor asked her to come in for the results of her needle biopsy instead of giving her the results over the phone. When he came into the room he told her that she had a malignant tumor.

“It’s strange because I don’t associate my diagnoses with Christmas. I was told the 23rd that I had a malignant tumor but there were questions about the accuracy of the tests and I was to see an oncologist on Monday the 27th,” Jodi told Mesothelioma Guide during an interview with writer Jamie Iovino in 2016.

Although Jodi was told she had a malignancy right before Christmas, she still loves celebrating the holiday.

“I still LOVE Christmas and celebrating the birth of Christ. The presents are a bonus, but more than that I LOVE being with my family! Family is everything to me and if I can make them happy in any way then I will do that. I wasn’t the only one diagnosed with cancer that year but my family and loved ones were also.”

For many people, the most important part of Christmas is spending time with family. Jodi didn’t tell her family about her malignancy because she didn’t want to worry them on Christmas.

“I didn’t know what a malignant tumor was and with the questions about the tests being correct I told my dad and decided not to tell anyone else because I didn’t want to ruin their Christmas if the tests were wrong. I put it out of my mind until the 27th.”


Celebrating Two Decades Since Diagnosis

Jodi tried not to think about her malignancy during Christmas and then went to see an oncologist on December 27. Her mesothelioma diagnosis was epithelioid pleural mesothelioma. He believed it was stage 3 or 4 and told her she didn’t have many treatment options. He gave her a prognosis of up to three years. He also gave her great advice: get a second opinion.

Luckily for Jodi, she was able to get an appointment with a specialist at the Mayo Clinic. The specialist’s opinion was that she was only at stage 2. With her new diagnosis she was eligible for surgery. Getting a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic may have saved Jodi’s life.

It has now been nearly 21 years — as of Christmas Day 2020 — since she met with her first oncologist who gave her a mesothelioma prognosis of only a few years. She makes sure to celebrate every year.

“I don’t do anything until February when I had my surgery and had everything removed. On that date I make it a point to call or communicate with each member of my family and tell them how much I love them and am glad I’m still around.”

She also makes an effort to celebrate her birthday each year.

“On my 30th birthday, I went skydiving and for my 40th I got a tattoo. I’m not sure what to do for my 50th yet!”


Holiday Advice for Mesothelioma Patients

Dealing with mesothelioma during the holidays can be difficult. Christmas just passed and New Year’s Day is right around the corner. It’s important to stay positive and remember there are people who care. Jodi’s advice to current patients is to share their feelings with their family and friends.

“Share it, talk about it but in the best light possible. You are not in this alone.”

Jodi believes it’s important to celebrate being alive with family, instead of avoiding the issue of cancer.

“As funny as it sounds make it part of the celebration; the celebration of family, faith and love!”

    Sources & Author

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.