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mesotheliioma emotional support

A Memorial Tribute to Mesothelioma Victim Eric Weston

Eric Weston

Eric Weston

What follows are excerpts from Eric Weston: Life, Art, and Passions, a memorial tribute to our client who lost his life to mesothelioma at the young age of 56. This final chapter was written by Betsy Sanders, a very close and longtime friend to Eric.

In July of 2008, Eric noticed he was becoming short of breath. He felt some pressure on his lungs and felt like there was fluid in his lungs. It took him until early August before he saw his doctor. At that time he had fluid removed from his chest cavity and felt great afterward.

Eric’s doctor, Dr. Andrew Ross, wanted him to see a specialist to find out what was causing the accumulation of fluid; so, he went into Alta Bates in early September for a biopsy. The next day, Steph Zlott was with Eric when his doctor came in to talk with him about what they had discovered. She said, “Well I wish I had good news for you but I don’t. You have mesothelioma.”

His doctor went on to say, “On the outside, if you don’t do anything, we’ll give you a year to a year and a half. You might have as much as five years if you decide to have treatment.”

Gwen went with Eric to see the UCSF oncologists who are known for their aggressive treatment of mesothelioma. He wanted a second opinion before he made any decisions. The diagnosis and treatment options were the same. Soon after the second diagnosis, Eric made the decision not to go through treatments or surgery for his mesothelioma. He did not want to be a “patient” for the rest of his life.

Eric had his ups and downs, but he seldom broke down. He did have some days of depression, but generally lived well in the time he had left.

Eric eventually decided to consult an attorney to determine if he had a viable lawsuit. Eric’s brother, Scott, had a friend who worked for the law firm of Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley and they agreed to take the case. They are considered the best law firm for any case relative to mesothelioma. Eric was very impressed with them.

Denise Abrams was one of the senior attorneys at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley. When she met with Eric, she immediately felt a connection and came out of partial retirement to be the lead attorney for the lawsuit. Nearly twenty people from Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley worked on Eric’s lawsuit.

I Love You Still

I Love You Still

When Denise and a few others went to Eric’s home, they were amazed at what he had created in his home with his art. Seeing him in his own environment brought things even closer. Eric was so impressed with Denise that he left her a piece of art she had admired, a piece entitled “I Love You Still”.

It took about eight months before a few of the companies decided to settle. Once they settled, more followed suit, so Eric didn’t have to go to trial.

I was very fortunate to have met many of the people from Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley who helped Eric through this difficult lawsuit, which ultimately brought him the financial security to live out his final eight months. He bought himself a 2008 911 Porsche and I know he enjoyed the times he was able to drive around the Bay Area and to the beaches of Sonoma County.

February 27, 2010 was a sad day for all Eric’s friends and family. It was also a day of peace because we knew he had been released from the pain.

Look Homeward Anvil

Look Homeward Anvil

Denise Abrams recently wrote the following about this book. “Thanks for this lovely tribute to Eric. It was such an honor to represent him and his case will have a lasting impact for other workers with similar exposures. Eric was a true trailblazer and a quiet giant. We all miss him.”

Strategies for Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

family sitting around tableIf you recently learned that you have mesothelioma, you have probably been feeling lots of different emotions, like anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, confusion or loneliness. You may even feel numb, like your brain has shut off your emotions. This is totally normal; most people with mesothelioma react this way.

In our almost 40 years of experience helping people make informed legal and medical choices, we at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood have learned that it’s important to address your emotions early and often.

Something to keep in mind as you go through treatments is that there is no “right” way to react to having mesothelioma. How you feel is how you feel. Here are some strategies that we recommend:

  1. Don’t bottle your feelings or censor yourself around friends, family and doctors. It will only make you feel helpless or isolated. Instead, be candid and honest about your emotions. You might be surprised at how good it can feel to simply say out loud that you are scared, angry or stressed out.
  2. Don’t feel you have to be the strong one. It is easy to fall into a cycle in which you end up comforting everyone else and forget (or refuse to acknowledge) that you also need support. Remember that comfort and communication are two-way streets.
  3. It can be helpful to see a counselor, someone who specializes in talking with patients who have advanced cancers, chronic diseases or mesothelioma itself. Usually, taking your loved ones to these meetings is good for everyone, as it can help you and those caring for you learn to ride out the emotional roller coaster.
  4. Don’t worry if you feel like a different person every day, or even every hour. This is a natural part of the mesothelioma journey. It happens because your mind, just like your body, needs time to cope with the stress and change that come with having mesothelioma.

You can expect to feel all sorts of emotions, including denial, anger, fear, depression, sadness, loneliness, guilt and confusion. Don’t try to ignore them. Go ahead and feel bad. You have every right. Be sure to talk about it, though. There are lots of peer support groups and one-on-one counselors where you can meet people who are in the same boat.

Be sure to seek help if you find that emotions like denial or depression are getting in the way of your desire to follow your treatment plan.

Also, keep in mind that with the bad feelings come good ones: hope, optimism, humor and acceptance. Making plans for the future, focusing on relationships with loved ones and acknowledging the positives of your situation can help you feel strong, whole and happy.

Related articles:

The Stages of Mesothelioma: What Can I Expect After My Diagnosis?

Mesothelioma and Pain: What to Expect and How to Manage It

Mesothelioma and Exercise: What Patients Should Know About Physical Activity


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