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Written By: Devin Golden

Mesothelioma Survivors

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, but there are many survivors who have outlived their prognosis and are still living today. Becoming a mesothelioma survivor requires at least five years of survival following diagnosis. While the percentage of mesothelioma patients reaching this milestone is low, it is achievable by receiving the best treatment from top mesothelioma specialists. Mesothelioma Guide compiled a list of notable mesothelioma survivors. We proudly share their stories.

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Medically Reviewed By

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Registered Nurse

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Medically Reviewed By

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Registered Nurse

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Recovery from Mesothelioma Is Possible

A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating, but patients and their families can find comfort knowing other people diagnosed with mesothelioma have made miraculous recoveries. These patients all followed a similar path to their long-term survival, which they’re still enjoying as they live out happy and healthy lives.

How Patients Have Beaten Their Diagnosis

Some mesothelioma survivors have lived over 10 years beyond their initial diagnosis and beat their odds. A small percentage have lived for five years, and this percentage is growing each year thanks to improved cancer treatments.

Many survivors credit their improved prognosis to seeing a mesothelioma specialist and getting second opinions. You can see a mesothelioma specialist by contacting and making an appointment at a top cancer center for mesothelioma. There are many around the country and might be one near where you live.

Most mesothelioma survivors received aggressive surgical treatments (extrapleural pneumonectomy, pleurectomy with decortication, or cytoreduction with HIPEC).

Survivor stories offer hope, and so much more. Patients can learn what each survivor’s diagnosis was and which treatment methods they received. Patients who read these stories of life can model their own battle after these brave survivors.

As one of the best mesothelioma specialists, the late Dr. David Sugarbaker, said. “With hope, anything is possible.”

Survivor Stories

Gary Maxwell

Gary Maxwell

Type of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

60

Year diagnosed

2014

Average prognosis for his diagnosis

12 - 21 months

Gary Maxwell served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam War. Unbeknownst to him, he was being exposed to asbestos the entire time he was aboard his ships. In 2014, he began experiencing shortness of breath and was diagnosed with bronchitis. After his symptoms persisted despite completing two rounds of antibiotics, he went to the emergency room and underwent a thoracentesis to remove excess fluid from the pleural space (between the lungs and chest wall).

Doctors sent a fluid sample to the lab for evaluation, which came back atypical. Gary underwent a second thoracentesis because he was still experiencing severe shortness of breath. At the second procedure, doctors didn't plan to do a biopsy, but Gary's wife demanded it. The results came back as malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Thankfully Gary's wife, Donna, was there to advocate for him. After the second thoracentesis, Gary's symptoms completely disappeared. Had they not demanded a biopsy that day, Gary may not have been diagnosed as early as he was and may not have been eligible for certain treatments. He calls his wife his hero and says she definitely saved his life.

Shortly after Gary's diagnosis, he began chemotherapy treatment. He went through four rounds of chemotherapy and then underwent a pleurectomy with decortication. The chemotherapy and surgery were successful, and Gary has been in “complete remission” for over 8 years.

Treatment:

  • Chemotherapy
  • P/D (Pleurectomy with decortication)

Jodi Page

Jodi Page

Type of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

26

Year diagnosed

1990

Average prognosis for her diagnosis

19 months

Minneapolis resident Jodi Page was diagnosed with mesothelioma at just 26 years old. When she first saw the doctor with fever, chills and a sore throat, she was diagnosed with a cold and treated with a Z-Pack. While the symptoms briefly subsided, they all came back — this time with chest pain.

Upon further examination, she was incorrectly diagnosed as having stage 3 or 4 epithelial pleural mesothelioma by a general oncologist. Only after seeing a mesothelioma specialist was it revealed she was in stage 2 of mesothelioma.

The earlier stage meant she was eligible for extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, which was successfully performed followed by radiation treatment. Jodi celebrated her 30th birthday by skydiving. Decades later, she continues in her recovery journey.

Treatment:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy
  • Radiation

Marlyn Landin

Marlyn Landin

Type of Mesothelioma

Pleural Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

47

Year diagnosed

2000

Average prognosis for her diagnosis

16 months

The wife of a retired Air Force veteran, Marlyn Landin spent most of her adult life working as a hairstylist. She decided to see her doctor after experiencing what felt like a pulled muscle in her back. It was a good thing she did: After a precautionary chest X-ray, doctors were alarmed by what they saw.

They ordered a CT scan of her chest for a more detailed evaluation of her right lung. After six weeks of seeing different doctors, Marlyn received a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma. Marlyn had invasive surgery pneumonectomy/decortication removing numerous ribs and part of her cancerous lung.

She also went through numerous cycles of mesothelioma chemotherapy that put her on the road to recovery. Decades later, she's still on that road.

Treatment:

  • Pneumonectomy
  • Chemotherapy

Kendra Ferreira

Kendra Ferreira

Type of Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

42

Year diagnosed

2001

Average prognosis for her diagnosis

24 months

An artist from Rhode Island, Kendra Ferreira has enjoyed a great life with three children and a loving husband. She taught art classes and exhibited her artwork. In 2001, Kendra was diagnosed with mesothelioma after noticing her stomach swelling without any weight gain.

She was originally diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy. Her doctor realized the cancer had originated as peritoneal mesothelioma and spread to the ovaries.

After finding mesothelioma specialists, she took part in a clinical trial surgery, followed by chemotherapy. She was sensitive to many of the chemotherapy blends, but her specialists were able to tailor them to her specific needs, resulting in her recovery. More than a decade later, she is still enjoying good health.

Treatment:

  • Clinical trial surgery
  • Chemotherapy

Jill Litton

Jill Litton

Type of Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

52

Year diagnosed

2011

Average prognosis for her diagnosis

19 months

In 2007, Jill Litton was examined after a possible cancer scare. Luckily, the cells were benign, and she thought that was the end of it. Three years later, Jill noticed that she had put on some weight in her belly. She assumed that it must have something to do with quitting smoking, but decided to see her doctor just to be sure.

While visiting the doctor, she laid down to be examined. When her doctor pushed on her abdomen, Jill felt a sharp pain. Her doctor, concerned, sent her to have tests done. Before she could be tested, however, she had an allergic reaction that sent her to the hospital. During her hospital stay she was scanned and found to have peritoneal mesothelioma.

Dr. Brian Loggie at Creighton Medical University performed cytoreductive surgery to remove the cancerous tumors and he treated Jill with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and traditional chemotherapy with Alimta and carboplatin.

She's a survivor now and has a positive view of her health. After this experience, Jill humbly wants to help others, saying, "I see how blessed I am and I feel guilty a lot of times because of how awesome I am doing while so many others suffer."

Treatment:

  • Cytoreductive surgery
  • HIPEC (heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy)
  • Chemotherapy

Alexis Kidd

Alexis Kidd

Type of Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

37

Year diagnosed

2007

Average prognosis for her diagnosis

6 months

After mesothelioma survivor Alexis Kidd began experiencing strong stomach pains, it was determined that she should have her gallbladder removed. During the surgery, her surgeon noticed small "rice-like" formations on her diaphragm and biopsied on the spot. The surprising diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma was verified twice before she was told; but despite these findings, all subsequent X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans showed nothing at all.

As mesothelioma is rarely found on the diaphragm before it metastasizes, she was initially diagnosed at stage 4. However, it was later determined that her cancer primarily existed on her diaphragm.

She went back in for surgery to have the right side of her diaphragm resected, cytoreductive surgery to remove any visible tumors and treated with HIPEC (approved by its creator, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker) by Dr. Henry Zaleski, followed by traditional chemotherapy.

Alexis credits much of her recovery to her team of doctors and the HIPEC treatment.

Treatment:

  • Cytoreductive surgery
  • HIPEC (heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy)
  • Chemotherapy

Paul Kraus

Paul Kraus

Type of Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Age at time of diagnosis

57

Year diagnosed

1997

Average prognosis for his diagnosis

6 months

Paul Kraus lived in Australia and worked cutting sheets of asbestos. Nearly four decades later, Paul was diagnosed with advanced peritoneal mesothelioma. In interviews, Paul shared that he accepted his diagnosis, but ignored his prognosis.

Since his mesothelioma was so far advanced, very few medical treatment options were available. In 1997, he was given a prognosis of just a few months to live. In his book, he describes his holistic approach. Paul is the longest-living known mesothelioma survivor.

Paul made complete lifestyle changes by altering his diet and using vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and other supplements. He did all of this under the guidance of doctors to ensure his overall well-being.

Treatment:

  • All holistic and natural (with medical supervision)

Sources & Author

  1. Robinson, B. and Chahinian, A. (2002). Mesothelioma. London. Taylor & Francis.
  2. Living with mesothelioma. Cancer Research UK. Retrieved from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mesothelioma/living-with. Accessed: 10/15/18.
  3. Tannapfel, A. (2011). Malignant mesothelioma. Heidelberg. Springer.
  4. Mesothelioma Survivors. International mesothelioma program. Retrieved from: http://impmeso.org/the-imp-program/survivor-stories/. Accessed: 10/15/18.
  5. Mesothelioma Survivor Stories. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.curemeso.org/mesothelioma-treatment-plan/patient-support-and-resources/mesothelioma-survivor-stories/. Accessed: 10/15/18.
Devin Golden

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.