This week, the mesothelioma community lost a courageous soul. Jan Egerton of the blog Jan’s Journey has succumbed to pleural mesothelioma. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2004, while still in her mid 40s—a relatively young age to be diagnosed. She is survived by her husband Gary and her two dogs, Lexi and Bear.
Jan was an advocate for mesothelioma, but it wasn’t simply because she had the disease. Her diagnosis served only as a means of learning about the disease. Her advocacy stemmed from a selfless belief that she could bring a sense of comfort to others who shared her struggle by being candid about her experiences and will to fight. She also made herself available to anyone–whether a mesothelioma victim or family member of one–who had questions about treatment or simply needed someone to talk to.
Astonishingly, Jan fought for nearly 10 years, despite the average life expectancy for mesothelioma being approximately one year. She underwent a barrage of treatments to tackle her disease, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and cryoablation—a means to freeze cancer cells.
After four years of survival, Jan launched a project to share her diagnosis—a blog she titled “Jan’s Journey.” She consistently, and sincerely, shared her experiences with treatment, symptoms and how the disease had changed her life. She shared what seemed like every part of her life after her diagnosis from pictures of her CT scans to posts about her dogs.
In her last entry, Jan wrote about her health and emotions just as frankly as always. The entry is almost heart-wrenching to read as she discusses the difficulties of chemotherapy and fears of the future. It’s a wonderful example of her character as she expresses total honesty and concern for others. “I don’t want to die because I don’t want to leave my wonderful husband,” she wrote.
Her love for her husband is more than apparent through her writing, which never failed to express her appreciation for him. Jan did not make her journey through mesothelioma alone. Gary was there every step of the way to comfort and encourage her.
Aside from her blog, Jan was also a novelist. As a lover of thrillers and mystery novels, she wrote a book titled “The Dreamweaver’s Choice.” She even included a fictional version of her beloved dog, Bear, as a companion for the novel’s protagonist. All profits from her novel go to the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.
Jan became a valuable asset for the mesothelioma community and she will be remembered. I corresponded with Jan a few months back, and she was an example to say the least. Despite her pain and struggle, she pushed to have her voice heard and spread awareness about mesothelioma. She was very kind and brought awareness to the disease in a way few people could.
In the last line of her last blog post she states, “To my fellow warriors, keep the torch burning.” It’s a powerful message from a powerful woman to whom we are more than grateful. Our hearts go out to Gary and Jan’s family and friends. We will never forget Jan.