Mavis Nye of England shares her inspiring story of her ups and downs while fighting pleural mesothelioma. Through an email interview with MesotheliomaHelp, Mavis discussed how she takes on her cancer the same way she lives her life – with humor and through support from her family.
They say “laughter is the best medicine,” and for 72-year-old Mavis Nye that may be just the case. Mavis, of Seasalter, England, has been battling pleural mesothelioma since 2009. Although she has had her share of bad days, Mavis laughs a lot, makes fun of herself and even jokes about dying. It is this lighthearted approach to the serious, terminal cancer that has kept Mavis and her husband, Ray, enjoying their golden years.
“I have found that I have laughed a lot,” said Mavis. She believes that not only does humor help her and Ray better cope with her disease, but, she said, “I think it makes it easier for people to talk to me and not shy away not knowing what to say.”
Don’t let her humor fool you though – Mavis is a very serious and tenacious fighter when it comes to keeping herself alive and happy. She and Ray just celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary, and she plans to celebrate many more years with the man who stole her heart when she was just 16 years old. She also wants to be there for her sons, Tony and Terry, her daughters-in-law, and her three grandchildren, who have put their lives on hold and rallied around her throughout her mesothelioma ordeal.
When Mavis was first diagnosed with mesothelioma, after experiencing difficulty breathing and numbness in her arms, she was told that she had just three months to live. Now, four and one half years later, Mavis is happy to say she has been controlling her destiny as much as the medical team that has been treating her.
Preparing for the Battle
Like a fighter heading into the ring, Mavis began preparing for the fight of her life on June 4, 2009, the day she heard the devastating news. In her June 12, 2009 blog article Mavis noted that she was already planning her fight: “I have a real battle on my hands, but with all these lovely wishes, I will fight— I promise.”
“Don’t think I’m sitting about like an invalid,” Mavis wrote in her blog just days later. She “tidied the garden and laid a little patio in a quiet place so I can sit and read when I’m on chemo.” She cleared out the shed of “stupid things we collect,” and began packing for a weekend camping event. Then, she added, “I have gone on the dog walk this week, 2 miles every day, as exercise will build the lungs — so you see I’m ready for this fight.”
Mavis needed that fighting spirit for the long road ahead. She has endured surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, a clinical trial and countless procedures and tests. And she is still looking for that silver bullet that will rid her of the cancer that has invaded her body. Mavis just completed a fourth round of chemotherapy treatment. Her doctors weren’t sure whether to proceed, but knowing Mavis’s strength and will, this summer they went ahead with six sessions.
Home Away from Home
Since Mavis’s initial treatment, a talc pleurodesis surgery where a talcum “slurry” was inserted in the pleural layers to seal the space so no further fluid could accumulate around her lungs, she and Ray have continued to do what they enjoy most – joining friends at an RV rally or kicking back for a few days of camping. After her first procedure, when she was still weak, Mavis and Ray packed up their motor home, grabbed their loyal dog Louis, and headed out for some R & R.
Ray and Mavis Nye
Since then, the two have barely missed an invitation to meet up with their friends from their “motor homer’s club.” And that time together has only strengthened the couple’s already unshakeable bond.
“Ray and I enjoy doing so much together,” said Mavis. “We are laughing all the time and enjoy camping together in the motor home. That’s when we can really relax.”
When they aren’t in their RV, the two are busy planning their next trip. Whether it is another country in Europe, a party in the next town, or a day of shopping, Mavis and Ray are buoyed by their excursions. They see each day as an adventure, and it also happens to be the best way for Mavis to cope with her mesothelioma.
“There have been some very bad days when in chemo, and the sickness and pain has been intolerable, but on those days I just lay back and rest knowing that the chemo was working on my Mr. Nasty.”
When asked what it is that gets her out of bed every morning, Mavis said simply, “I love getting up each day because it is a new start, a fresh start and I will see another day. Laughter and great friends and the love of life are what keep me going.”
Beginning with her diagnosis, Mavis has documented her fight against mesothelioma and her efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos. Following are her and Ray’s websites, where you can follow their journey and find out more about mesothelioma.
OneStop Mesothelioma – Contains information and resources about mesothelioma and asbestos
Living with Mesothelioma – Mavis’s Diary
Meso Warrior – Mavis’s book available on Amazon.com
Ray and Mavis’s Books – other books written by Ray and Mavis
Come back next week for Part II of Mavis’s story – her advocacy.