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Shrader Podcast 3

Interviewer: Hi, I’m here with Robert Shuttlesworth of Shrader and Associates. I’m going to be asking him some questions about mesothelioma. Is there a cure for mesothelioma?

Robert Shuttlesworth: It depends on who you ask, but generally speaking, there is no cure for mesothelioma. The goal with mesothelioma is to see if they can stop the spread of the tumor, see if they can isolate it chemically or through oncology practices, see if they can remove as much of it as they can, and then see if they can maintain a relatively small size of that tumor for the rest of the person’s life. There’s no such thing as that you can cure it, meaning it goes away forever. The idea in both this cancer and many other types of cancers is to try to get that tumor to go into remission, meaning that it’s not growing and it’s not spreading.

Interviewer: Why do I need to go to a doctor if mesothelioma has no cure?

Robert: There are lots of diseases that don’t have a cure and we all go to doctors for those types of diseases, as well. You want to be with a physician because there are going to be treatment options available based on your age or your general overall health. There are ways to extend your life, a productive life, not one that’s just ridden by cancer. You’re going to want to discuss all the possible treatment options. There are new things coming available all the time. New drugs, new therapies, new procedures. You want to be part of that process because you never know. Just like anybody else, we learn from the past. You need to be helping towards a future.

Interviewer: Why do I need a mesothelioma lawyer?

Robert: Lawyers, when you go to law school, come out and practice law. A mesothelioma lawyer is one who’s specifically immersed him or herself in the various aspects of prosecuting a mesothelioma case. It’s a particular area of law that requires a vast amount of knowledge about the uses of asbestos in industry, the types of products that they went into, the science behind exposure, the science behind the development of cancer, the science behind how the cells transform into cancer, and how asbestos plays a role in all that. A lawyer down the street or one who does a little bit of divorce work or this, that, and the other is not going to be familiar with the past 40 to 50 years of asbestos litigation in this country. A mesothelioma lawyer is going to know that and be able to put you in the best possible position to successfully argue your case.

Interviewer: What is the purpose of hiring a mesothelioma lawyer if there is no cure?

Robert: Industry knew when they started putting asbestos into products that it was going to kill people from this specific type of cancer. Even though there may not be a cure, and even though the person with mesothelioma may not survive, their claims against those companies survive to their heirs and to their dependents. The reason you would go forward with the case, even though you may not be able to see the end of it, is the peace in the mind and the knowledge that your loved ones are going to be taken care of from the financial point of view after you pass away.

Interviewer: Can mesothelioma be removed through surgery?

Robert: There are some doctors that have had good success with being able to remove the cancer. Whether or not you’re a candidate for surgery is something only those physicians are going to be able to determine. Generally speaking, they go in…it’s a very invasive type of surgery. It’s very painful. There’s a lot of recovery time with it. But they go in and remove as much of the tumor and the surrounding tissue as possible. They follow that up with traditional oncology measures. The goal is to see if they can get all of the tumor and then keep any remnants of the tumor from coming back.

Interviewer: Is chemotherapy an option for mesothelioma treatment?

Robert: Chemotherapy is an option for mesothelioma as it is for other types of cancers. There are different types of chemotherapy drugs which target the cancerous cells. The idea is to keep those cells from growing. A cancer that’s not growing is one that could be going into remission. That will extend the patient’s life. Chemotherapy has been a successful option in mesothelioma treatment for a number of years.

Interviewer: Is radiation an option for mesothelioma treatment?

Robert: Generally speaking, radiation is not the preferred method of combating mesothelioma cancer. That being said, a physician’s the only one that can really determine that. There are new treatment options becoming available all the time. To the extent radiation is used in partnership with other types of traditional oncology measures, that’s something the doctor will know. But generally speaking, radiation is not used in mesothelioma treatment.

Interviewer: If I’m diagnosed with mesothelioma, should I volunteer for research or experimental treatments?

Robert: That’s a personal decision. Anyone who’s diagnosed with mesothelioma needs really three sets of teammates. They need their family and their religious support group, if that’s the kind of person they are. They need their physicians to know all the medicine. And they may need the lawyer to help them with paying for all of the things that go on with the treatment. Whether somebody wants to fight the cancer to the end through experimental measures, that’s on the person. It’s a personal decision between them and their family. I can’t really answer that as whether you should or you shouldn’t, but generally speaking if you can’t beat the cancer…if you’ve participated in the experimental treatments which eventually led to the cure, you’re making something out of a very terrible situation.

Interviewer: If I’m diagnosed with mesothelioma, should I alter my diet?

Robert: You need to discuss that with your physicians. Diet does not cause mesothelioma. You didn’t eat too many cheeseburgers and come down with this type of cancer. That being said, if you’re fighting cancer in general, there are certain foods which aid in that fight, antioxidants and things of this nature. There are also things you may need to eat to keep your weight up or to lose weight. All that really just depends on the plan that your physicians come up with.

Interviewer: What about exercise during mesothelioma treatment?

Robert: Certainly you need to exercise. It’s good for you with mesothelioma and it’s good for you when you don’t have mesothelioma. Keeping active as best you can keeps the body overall healthy. It certainly aids in the fight against the cancer.

Interviewer: How will mesothelioma affect my daily life?

Robert: Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer. Sometimes when you’re diagnosed you may not have any symptoms yet. Certainly, in that scenario, there’s a chilling road ahead. It’s going to affect you in other ways like every other cancer does. Depending on the treatment options that are available for you, daily speaking, it’s going to reduce your energy. If it’s a painful process in you, as cancer often is, there are going to be certain types of narcotics involved to fight the pain. Certainly those are going to make you sleepy. Certainly those are going to keep you less active.

Think of it as having a very long illness that’s going to suck you of energy. That’s how it’s going to affect your daily life.

Interviewer: Who should I tell about my diagnosis?

Robert: Mesothelioma is a very personal thing, as is anything else health related. I would want to share that information with my physicians, with my loved ones. Maybe get their opinion as to who should be told or who shouldn’t. Certainly you need a certain amount of support on your end. You want to make sure the people you tell are the people who are going support you and encourage you to fight on.

Interviewer: How can I be sure I’ve explored all of my mesothelioma treatment options?

Robert: You want to start off by discussing this with your physicians. Certainly there are online options available you can research. The major cancer treatment hospitals in the country, in Houston, New York, or Los Angeles, or Philadelphia are all going to be able to sit down and discuss treatment options available with you. You want to be sure you’ve explored all of them. I’d start out by talking to my physician, then maybe ask them for another physician to talk to and that next physician for another physician to talk to. If you talk to three or four physicians and you’ve got all the information, then you’ve probably explored all of your treatment options.

Interviewer: Should I contact former coworkers who may have been exposed to asbestos?

Robert: If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are going to pursue or hire a lawyer to pursue litigation, it’s very important for you to establish everything that you were exposed to some 30, 40, 50 years ago. Coworkers help in this process. So if you were working in a factory and you remember a coworker and still have his contact information, it’s very important to contact that person to see if that person would be willing to talk to your attorney to gather additional exposure facts about the type of environment you all worked in.

Interviewer: How can I help a family member or friend that’s diagnosed with mesothelioma?

Robert: Just the same way you would any other type of cancer. You want to be supportive. You want to help out as much as possible. But more often than not, you need to listen and show the kind of love and care that you would want if you were in the same scenario, the same situation. You want to keep him positive. People who are positive fight cancer better than people who are negative. And so you want to focus on the good times. You want to focus on the road ahead. And you want to be their biggest cheerleader because that’s how you beat cancer.

Interviewer: Are there support systems in place to help me and my family get through mesothelioma treatment?

Robert: Most major hospitals are going to have support groups for cancer victims. Any of those support groups are going to be fine. I don’t think you need to have a specific one directly for mesothelioma. Again, it’s a very rare form of cancer, therefore it’s not going to have a high number of members in any one area. But yes, any of the cancer support groups that you can find through your local hospitals are going to be a valuable source. There are many things to talk about. There are a lot of issues that come up with either treatment options, or dietary matters, or just support in being positive and helping the person with the cancer fight, because that’s what they need now, somebody on their team.

Interviewer: If our listeners are seeking additional information, is there a web site or a phone number that you can direct them to?

Robert: Certainly. Our website’s very good. It’s Our phone number is 1-877-637-6347. That’s 1-877-637-6347.

Interviewer: Great. Thank you.