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Friday, February 23, 2024

A young girl’s struggle with mesothelioma

By Christopher E. Hahn

Special to CSMS Magazine

A year ago, at age three, Zaida was diagnosed with peritoneal malignant mesothelioma. We all know mesothelioma is ruthless, one of the most aggressive and painful of tumors. Now this vicious cancer has unsheathed a new dagger of cruelty. How could mesothelioma strike a little three-year-old without a significant known asbestos exposure? We do not know. All we know is that this precious child is fighting for her life.

As we look into this sweet face, we feel the human sympathy for a efenseless child, and we realize now that if Zaida can get mesothelioma, then so can any one of us, so can any one of our children or grandchildren. In the little face of Zaida shines the truth: mesothelioma has become everybody’s problem.

Eric and Nichol have fought for Zaida’s life with everything they have. Initially she had a major four-hour debulking surgery. She was on a ventilator for the next eight days, heavily sedated, which caused her excruciating withdrawal symptoms. This was followed by months of combination chemotherapies. She lost her beautiful curls. To remove all remaining tumor nodules, she later had a second debulking surgery with heated chemotherapy perfusion. This took twelve hours.


Her spleen, gall bladder, and the tail of her pancreas were removed, along with all visible tumor. She then began yet another chemo combination.

But the tumor was recurring, so last month Zaida had a third surgery. What was supposed to take an hour and a half took twelve hours again. The surgeon found hundreds of tiny tumor implants all around her lower abdomen and tried to remove as many as possible. Zaida’s cancer is spreading aggressively.

So far, the best existing chemotherapies have not been able to stop it. Even so, in between the treatments and the difficult recoveries from surgery, Zaida is filled with all the lively exuberance of any four-year-old. Her love of life is evident from her smile as she emerges from sedation. Her parents know that as long as there is life, there is hope – hope that the next treatment breakthrough will be developed in time.

So Zaida’s mom Nichol begged us to use Zaida’s story to raise funds needed for research. Research to save Zaida’s life if possible. Research to provide hope for all patients battling the disease today. And research to provide a future for all those people who are at risk to develop the disease tomorrow – the veterans who served this country’s defense; the workers exposed on the job and their family members exposed at home; every single soul in Lower Manhattan who came in contact with the gray gritty dust of 9/11; our kids and grandkids who, like Zaida, may get sick without any obvious known exposure at all.

Meso Foundation research-funding is helping brilliant investigators around the world make progress today. These scientists are uncovering the molecular pathways of the cancer, discovering potential targets, and developing promising new compounds.

A Meso Foundation grant of $50,000 can support one of these researchers for a year. For approximately $300,000, we can cover the clinical costs of validating one of the promising new compounds in a clinical trial.

So I am asking you today – even in these difficult economic times – if you can spare $100 or $250 for Zaida . . . and for all of today’s patients . . . and for everyone at risk.

Mesothelioma is now everybody’s problem, so we are asking everybody to participate in the solution. We can cure this vicious cancer – won’t you please help today? Thank you.

Note: Christopher E. Hahn is the Executive Director of Meso Foundation. He sent us the article via our staff writer, Bill Robbins.  

Also see Five guidelines to keep a healthy lifestyle 

Which Vitamins and Minerals work best for you?

Valuing Buildings Over Employee Health 

America’s Loss

The EPA’s Unconscionable Silence

America’s Illusion of Health and Safety

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