September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as well as the time when we bring greater awareness to Mesothelioma Day on September 26! We are introducing you to another W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S. Champion, Linda Wells who is pictured here with one of the elephants at the Chiang Mia Sanctuary in Thailand!! When Linda was 14 years old she started to have abdominal pain and other symptoms that her doctors felt were related to constipation and depression. Linda had an intuition that something was wrong but when she kept going back to the doctor and finding nothing wrong she even started to doubt herself. Two years later when the pain was so intense she couldn’t move, she was diagnosed with Peritoneal Mesothelioma at the age of 16. She had an intense and complicated regimen of multiple treatments including 3 surgeries and chemotherapy and eventually felt that she needed to stop the chemo and turn to other therapies. She turned to alternative treatments at this point and for the first time in a while started to feel better.
Luckily, at age 20, she got to a specialist in Mesothelioma, Dr Esquivel at St Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, where she had 4 more very extensive surgeries to debulk the tumor in her abdomen as well as get hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy treatment called HIPEC. Surprisingly, it was after this surgery and chemo and under the expert care of Dr Esquivel who is known as one of the pioneers of the HIPEC treatment that Linda started to feel better and recover very quickly. It gave her hope that things would finally turn around. Linda is now a 17 year Survivor of Mesothelioma and focusing every day on using the Power of her Mind to continue to push forward towards healing.
Linda credits many factors which have helped with her long term survival. First and foremost, she is grateful for the unconditional love, support, advocacy and presence of her mom, Annina, throughout all aspects of her intense cancer journey and treatments. There were many days when she had uncontrollable vomiting, several emergencies, or needed someone to hold her head or hand when she had no more strength or energy left inside. She says that sometimes you just need someone to be there who understands, who listens and will be there for you no matter what! She also says that it was trusting her intuition, researching the disease on her own when she was 16, using alternative therapies and the support of a high school best friend, Amanda, and a group of friends that she developed after high school that kept her laughing which have made all the difference for her in her pushing forward every day towards her own Recovery.
Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer, even more so in childhood, and in most cases it is associated with exposure to asbestos, although less so with Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Asbestos can be found in several different areas. It can be found in many building products and homes built before 1980 as well as car parts and surprisingly, some fertilizers or potting soils if they contain vermiculite. Some of these products are still being manufactured and distributed today.
Linda is an amazing young woman, as you can see, and has made a Remarkable Recovery through her Intuition, her Own Advocacy, Resilience, and the Support of her Parents and Friends!!
Linda is not alone. While rare, there are over 15,000 children diagnosed with cancer in the US each year. The good news is that long term survival rates are high for kids with 80% surviving childhood cancers. While only a small percentage are felt due to inherited genes, many are thought to be due to exposure to environmental risk factors in our air, water, food, beauty products, lawns, soil, viruses and radiation. It may be that inherited genes in the context of certain environments may increase risk for development of these cancers.
Both of Linda’s parents have had health challenges in the last few years and she is grateful in returning the favor by being there for them too. Her mom had a near-fatal emergency surgery and her dad, Mark, developed cancer. Mark worked with asbestos and a few years ago he himself developed renal cell cancer for which he has also received definitive treatment. After watching what his daughter went through, Mark wanted to help raise more awareness and research funding about the prevention, treatment and cure of Mesothelioma through a fundraiser in New York where 100% of the money goes to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This event is so much fun that Linda looks forward to it every year! Linda loves and appreciates the roles that both her parents play in her life. Her dad has a passion for this fundraiser and has hope that through research more can be done to prevent, treat and bring greater health, vitality and eventual cure to those with Mesothelioma! You can donate to this important fundraiser through his website: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/9th-annual-kayaking-4-meso
As we learn more and have greater awareness there are steps we can all take to reduce risk of disease:
1. Take an inventory of your home, work and play for areas where you may be able to reduce your exposure to any of the 85, 000 chemicals in our world today.
2. Simplify your life. Fall is the perfect time for reorganizing and purging! Go through your home room by room and decide what products you can let go of. Detoxify your environment whether cleaners, beauty products, pesticides or other chemicals.
3. Learn about Regenerative Agriculture and Regenerative Communities which are beginning to spring up around the country. Nurture the natural environment that Mother Nature created which has an innate wisdom for growth, nutrition and good health!!!!
4. Get out in nature to exercise for good health and reduce Stress and if you have children, set aside fun activities in Nature with your kids! Your body will thank you over time. It takes time but makes a real difference.
5. Connect with your Passion….Have fun and do whatever brings you most Joy and Happiness. It is when we follow our Passion that our spirits begin to soar!!
Here is to your Good, Better, Best Life Through W.E.L.L.N.E.S.S.© …W.inning E.very L.iving day thru L.ove N.utrition E.xercise S.erenity and S.pirituality!