Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Why I Started, and Why I can't Stop Volunteering - a guest post

Last year I was contacted by a lovely lady Ashley Stafford, who is a volunteer with Treat Mesothelioma. She wanted an opportunity to share her story, as well as a chance to spread awareness about the horror that is Mesothelioma and she asked whether I would help. Below are her words, as well as a stack of very helpful links to further information on Mesothelioma for you to check out.

When my best friends dad, Rick Romanenko, was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, I saw a family get turned upside down, I was turned upside down.  Everything that felt right, everything that felt in order was now backwards.
With general/common cancers, people always tell you to never lose hope and to always have faith that things will get better.  Well, with mesothelioma unfortunately, there are no options or hopes for a curing miracle. When Rick was pronounced dead to this asbestos related cancer. It was absolutely the hardest thing I have ever had to witness to date and that is why I began volunteering and raising awareness.  
Before Rick, I had never even heard of mesothelioma, nor for asbestos for that matter.  Except for the late television commercials or the radio ads from a mesothelioma law firm.  That was the only connection I had to this cancer, but one thing… one question… kept running through my head…
Why was he diagnosed in such a late stage of this cancer?
I soon learned that mesothelioma is extremely difficult to diagnose because it commonly gets mistaken for the common cold.  The reason for it’s usual inaccurate diagnose is because of it’s very mild symptoms. Mesothelioma symptoms include:
  • Bad cough
  • Fever
  • Stomach aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pains, etc.
If you’d like to learn more about mesothelioma symptoms for each type of mesothelioma, please watch this video here: Video for Mesothelioma Symptoms

To me that just seems crazy.  How can a terminal form of cancer have such mild warning signs?  How can you I prevent this from happening again?  I started volunteering.
I researched mesothelioma from a – z and realized the best way to save lives is to help them become aware of the dangers of asbestos and all of its most common locations.  If a person knows he or she has been exposed to asbestos, you will know to be screened for mesothelioma.  Given that you get screened annually and that it is completed by a mesothelioma specialist, you will certainly have the best odds to catch it in its beginning stages.  Catching mesothelioma early on can extend life expectancy by tens of years.  
After months of volunteering, I have learned that there is something extremely gratifying about it. Every time I volunteer, I feel better and healthier mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In fact, volunteering has now become a part of me. I feel as though I get something positive back from every volunteer effort I complete and life around me just seems more complete.
Every time I volunteer I feel happy because I know that I’m helping and restoring hope to the people battling mesothelioma cancer. I try my hardest to make them feel socially connected thereby warding off any type of depression and loneliness. As a person that has been affected by mesothelioma, I relate their experience with my past. Volunteers make those affected think about something else other than the present challenges.
This is very important because it prevents the stress that is associated with mesothelioma from infiltrating into the lives of the affected and I feel happy doing it. Volunteering for and with others increases my social interactions and this helps in establishing a support system on the basis of common interests and commitment. Both of these are important in decreasing the state of depression that either party could be feeling.
The social connection that comes with volunteering makes me feel that I am part of my society. I feel emotionally connected to the people that I interact with.  I also get a unique feeling of contentment. The more I volunteer the happier and content I feel. This enhances my own personal wellbeing while strengthening the emotional bond between my and who ever it is I am reaching out to.

Volunteering brings me a sort of inner gratification and peace. It gives me a sense of a meaningful purpose. I feel as though my life is finally balanced in the sense of what I give versus what I take from society.  This world that we live in needs a sense of balance more than ever and this balance begins and starts within each and every one of us.  That is why I won’t stop volunteering at Mesothelioma Treatment Community any time soon.

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