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October 4, 2013

My fiancee Brian Holton was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in October of 2006. As one might imagine, we were devastated and did not know where to turn as the oncologist Brian had initially seen had no idea what to do with him. It took him 4 weeks to get around to ordering a biopsy for Brian. Fortunately one of my co-workers had seen a current article about mesothelioma in a medical journal and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) was featured in this article. It had contact information for Mary Hesdorffer RN, NP and I contacted her straight away.

Mary called me back the next day and spoke to me at length about mesothelioma and what our next steps should be. She put us in touch with the experts at New York-Presbyterian Hospital where there were doctors and nurses who dealt with this rare cancer on a regular basis. Over the next several months of chemotherapy Brian's tumor shrunk by 60%. However within that first year Brian's health insurance no longer allowed him to seek treatment out of state and again Mary Hesdorffer, through MARF, assisted us in finding a capable doctor. Also through MARF I was able to connect with other patients and caregivers going through the same thing we were which was a blessing for us.

As Brian's cancer progressed the local oncologist ran out of options for Brian. I got in touch with MARF, and Mary again put us in touch with a researcher at the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institute of Health, who specialized in mesothelioma. We went for treatment for several months until finally Brian succumbed to mesothelioma in 2008.

I believe that the two additional years Brian survived after his diagnosis, and they were good/happy years for us, was possible because of the expertise and help of this wonderful organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

provide additional funding for research and patient outreach/education

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