A dad’s tragic death from mesothelioma

16 May 2008 by under People

Recently, Debi Swagart contacted me to share the heartbreaking story of her father’s death from mesothelioma. Living in a small town in , Warren Faubert fell ill in December 2001, but was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until May 2002 – much too late for treatment. At the time, she says, not much was known about mesothelioma, even among the small-town physicians who treated him for pneumonia. Here is her story:

Let me tell you a story about my loving Dad. He was my hero, he was my father. In December 2001 he came down with pneumonia and could never get rid of it. He didn’t really think that much about it at the time, and said the doctors were trying many different medicines to help him.

In February 2002 I got a call from my uncle that they figured my Dad had a stroke. My husband and I rushed from Memphis to Escanaba, Michigan. When we got there, what a shock! My dad had been a construction worker all his life, and was muscular and fit, especially in his upper body. He was a short man, about five-foot-five and 185 pounds. When we saw him in February, he weighed only 134 pounds. My husband and I were just shocked by his appearance, how sick he looked.

The doctor walked into the room and told my Dad, “Well, Warren, all the tests show that you did not have a stroke.” But they didn’t offer any answers about what was wrong with him. I thought, “Ok, what is going on?!” We took him home that day and I stayed with him for a week. He felt sure the doctors would help him, so I reluctantly went back home.

After I had been home in Memphis for about a week, a friend of the family called me and said, “Debi, you better get back here. Warren is not good.” I got on a plane immediately.

Dad lived in the upper part of Michigan where there are no major airports, so I flew into Green Bay, , and drove 2 hours to the house. As soon as I walked in, I saw that my Dad had gotten even smaller. He was down to about 110 pounds! His clothes would not fit him – they just fell off his body. I went to the store and ended up getting him a boys’ size 14, which he was able to wear. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? What was going on?

The next day I took Dad to the doctor’s office, and they told me he had pneumonia again. I just didn’t believe this, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. Shouldn’t I trust the doctors? But he just kept getting worse. He was wasting away in front of me.

From December 2001 to May 2002 my Dad had infection in his lungs 22 times. He continued to weaken, until we rushed him to the hospital on May 1. He was admitted, but it was a nightmare from that time on.

On May 10, the doctor came in Dad’s room and admitted he had no clue what was going on. I just lost it! I started yelling, “Look, this man is a veteran, and a retired Union man! He has three medical insurance policies. Get someone in here that can help him and can tell us what is wrong!”

They ended up flying in a doctor from the Mayo Clinic. As soon as he saw my dad and looked at his case history, he told me, “I have no doubt your father has mesothelioma.”

I had no clue what he was even talking about, let alone dealing with the fact that he had a cancer that kills in the end, and no one could tell me anything about this illness. You have to understand that back then, there in the upper peninsula of Michigan, there was very little internet access. I didn’t even know how to begin researching it.

Well, they took a piece of Daddy’s lung out for a biopsy, and on May 15 it came back as stage IV mesothelioma. I was just so mad that all this time had been wasted, while his health just deteriorated. It took me getting mad and fighting with them to even get a diagnosis!

I lost my hero on June 7 from mesothelioma. He died the same day my youngest son was to graduate from college. He missed out on that. We’ve missed out on so many things now. At the time of his death, my father’s weight was 76 pounds. I will never forget the way he looked.

Of course, now my family lives in fear that I will get this also from materials my Dad might have brought home from his work on Navy bases. My husband also is retired from the Navy with 23 years, and we worry about his exposure to asbestos. I already suffer from asthma and we worry what could happen if I contract mesothelioma.

Dad served in the Korean conflict at age 17, and no VA nursing home in the upper part of Michigan would take him because they didn’t know how to deal with his illness. I am on a mission every time this is something going on in D.C., from a trust fund to any bill, you bet this daughter of a Vet is on that hill fighting for the rights of meso victims! I will not stop!

Warren Faubert was 69 when he died of mesothelioma on June 7, 2002. He died less than one month after his official diagnosis.

2 Responses to “A dad’s tragic death from mesothelioma”

  1. Nurse Staff

    Oh, that's so sad..hope I can give a help..

  2. Nurse Staff

    Oh, that's so sad..hope I can give a help..