14th January; 2000
Thank you so much for caring
enough to reach out.
At 50 years old, I was diagnosed in October
1998 with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
I've been on both a
and a traditional one to find help for myself.
Until your site though I didn't find
anything written from the
rather, everything has been clinical.
I didn't cry for over a year but your
site helped me let it out.
I'm scared but not terrified and try to
live each moment to the
Your husband was a lucky man
to have someone so filled with
My husband is wonderful but it's harder
for him than me
Currently I am in the pain and
suffering part of my disease.
seems that I can't even spend
a few hours without focusing on my
health and panicking.
Thank you for helping me get back in touch
with my heart.
If you are ever in upstate New York,
I would love to
Bless you, you're a saint. Sherry.
18th January; 2000
Thank you for your kind letter.
know when I was first exposed to asbestos,
but I think that I was in
my early twenties.
My main symptom was difficulty breathing.
doctor wasted no time in telling me
that he recognized what I had.
He was draining the fluid and as soon
as he saw the colour he told
to go home and put my affairs in order.
He said that he usually
didn't give such advice
but that there was only one possible
My heart dropped.
All of the doctors that I saw
(and they were
the best that I could find)
unaminously told me that there was no
I had chemotherapy.
They opened me up to remove my lung
said that I was too far gone
and sent me home to die.
was 14 months ago and somehow
I'm doing all right.
receiving alternative medicine
(homeopathy, etc.) and something
seems to be working
because many of my tumors have shrunk.
I'm sorry that you don't expect to travel
outside of New Zealand and I don't know if
there's any compensation available to you,
here in the States the asbestos industry
has to pay everyone who
comes down with mesothelioma.
Not that it comes close to
for your husband's life but perhaps
like that there.
If you need help finding out about this,
I can ask
a lawyer here.
He's a specialist in mesothelioma cases
only and he
might know if there's
someone like him over there.
Lots of luck
to you and please feel
free to ask me anything that you want. Sherry
22nd January; 2000.
Deidre,thanks for your offer to write
a story about my experience.
It is something that I've been thinking
The trouble is, I get too wordy
and it would become too long,
but I am interested in doing something like that.
Thanks for your
site address again.
How funny to hear about hot weather.
We have snow and
ice and the TV and radio
advise people to stay indoors and
who must go out,
to be sure to carry extra blankets
and jackets in
case of car failure.
Talk to you soon. Love, Sherry
13th February; 2000,
Dearest, kindest new friend,
so much for the letter about Cancell.
I haven't heard of it but I
to be an expert by Monday.
That's the most exciting thing
I've heard since being diagnosed.
I work with a man, Jim(------).
He's not a doctor, but rather,
runs one blood test on you to check
the balance of your immune
After determining the ratio of
your T cells and others,
provides a nutritionally
balanced set of supplements
He sends test strips with which
to check your progress.
are no drugs involved!
Rather he keeps your immune system
that your own body
can do the fighting.
It is not easy.
Some of his
are very strict,
but though I live 250 miles away from
he has helped many people I know.
My friend Debbie had
lymphoma in 1984
and was told that nothing could be done.
fine for over 15 years,
and credits Jim with a lot of it.
to our local health food store
and met a woman who had breast
She said that she had been treated by him
for more than ten
and has been cancer free
for most of this time.
discovered a cure;
rather, he has developed a way for people
co-exist and fight the disease.
He has declined to have TV specials
done about his work because he's
uncomfortable with the attention,
but he's quite well known anyway.
Please feel free to send this
(and any other email)
I send to anyone who might be helped.
certainly the best site
that I have found and I would be proud
included in any small way.
Thank you and God bless
17th February; 2000, Hi there,
Sorry it took so long to get
back to you
but I was waiting to hear from Jim.
He said that he
would rather not
have his number posted on the internet
does everything by referrals
and the people who send them to him,
know who he can help and who he can't.
You can certainly post
the rest of
the letter if it's not too late.
Hope you are well.
Your letters cheer me up enormously. Sherry.
4th March; 2000.Hi, Deidre,
I'm sorry that I haven't gotten back
to you but
I've mostly been in New York City.
Just got back this
and have been catching up on all that I've
The last report that I got from my meso oncologist
that the tumors have grown a bit
but Jim (the immunologist) thinks
scar tissue, which I do seem to manufacture in large
In any event, all is well.
Jim has me taking eight
as well as an immune system tea
is working because I
feel much better than I had.
I even bought
ice skates while I was in
New York and I hope to use them a
I've been speaking with Dalinda.
She seems quite frightened
and I wish that I could help her.
Doctors in the States seem
committed to scaring us
with death proclamations when
know anything at all.
I would have been dead at least three times
they were right about everything!
How are you doing?
gotten on to your site
recently because every time I get on the net,
I get kicked off.
Seems I live in a somewhat rural area
insufficient phone service.
We're getting a high speed line this
so that should remedy it.
But it takes four or five
to get my mail!
I'm going to run.
Take care and keep doing your
You can't imagine how much you have done
4th March; 2000
Hi, Deidre, it's Sherry again.
finished reading a book called
"Co-Existing with Cancer or You
Living with Your In-Laws Was Difficult"
by Jack D. Ruda.
back cover of his book
reads partially as follows:
"I was told by a
number of doctors
that I would never live long enough
to see any
Because of a rare form of cancer,
given a short life expectancy."
He was diagnosed in 1991!
I spoke to him today and he is in good
I have given him your website address
He said that he
goes around the country
lecturing and he published his phone number
in the book so I assume that he wants
to hear from and talk to
people about this.
I just saw the web site with my name in it
I must say that I write better than I thought.
Thank you and I
hope that someone can feel
a little better after hearing about
I hope to hear from you soon.
Your notes mean so much to
5th March; 2000. Hi, Deidre,
I will gladly send you Jack's
don't worry about the cost.
I already own it.
I will ask him
about putting his story on the web,
but I'm sure he will say yes.
forget when he's leaving on holiday
but I will check and if he's
still here I'll contact him.
Ice skating is wonderful,
I could do
it every day.
I'm sure my ice skating is nothing like
what you see
on TV as I'm
still struggling to stay up.
I took my first lesson
yesterday from a
woman who was once the Olympic gold medal
champion from Switzerland.
The nicest thing she said to me was
I haven't developed any bad habits yet
and that she can help me.
was such fun!
Next week I plan to go to New York City
and skate with
my friend's five year
old daughter. Not bad.
I know this will sound strange,
but a lot of good has come from
being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
It taught me to stop and enjoy
each moment to the fullest.
I met some wonderful people
found your internet site,
which is by far the most useful thing
the internet about the disease.
Here in America if you search the
for information about mesothelioma,
you find mostly lawyers and
a couple of pages
about different medical studies.
Yours is the only
one written by a human
and yours is certainly the
only one offering
I don't cry often but your site helped me
to let it
and I felt so much better for it.
There's a woman,
I think her name is Margie Levine,
and she's past
her ten year mark.
She went for both the traditional
and isn't sure what worked.
She has also written a book,
but I don't have it any more
(I gave it away to someone who needed
I'll be glad to get you her email or
phone number if you
That's it for here.
Keep smiling and being a source of hope
You're much needed. Love, Sherry
25th April; 2000
Thank you for the prayer and thought.
wanted to send it back to you
but the mail program won't let me
forward that message for some reason.
How are you doing, my
I'm well, I think.
I've finished my court case where
out that I am one of the only
"living meso plaintiffs"
as the court
refers to me.
It was hard meeting the other one,
who is much sicker
than I am right now.
I think about you often.
I've tried calling
Jack Ruda but
the number has been busy each time.
Please let me
know how everyone is doing.
I've looked at your site a few times,
haven't seen anything new about Jim.
I think he called Jim though.
I hope to hear from you. God bless. Sherry
you heard from Jim or June?
Whenever I get your mail,
it's always dated one
Today is the 25th and your mail is
dated the 26th and it
starts my imagination going.
Wouldn't it be great if you really
lived in the future and you could
tell me what to expect.
Yesterday is the one year anniversary of
the last time the
doctors told me that
I had just a few weeks to live.
They opened me
up one year ago
to remove my lung and closed me without
I was too far gone, they said.
It's important for us all to realize
that when a doctor gives a
like that, he is just being a fortune teller,
and not even
a good fortune teller.
They cannot predict our outcomes
than they can predict
the stock market.
When they say "three
(or whatever number),
they are basing it on past
not on fact.
There's no such thing as medical
at least not in this disease.
The last time I saw my
(four months ago),
he told me that it would be a matter
weeks before I couldn't breathe independently.
I went to my
two weeks ago and he told me that
level was better than expected
even for a healthy person my age.
I've been studying the mind/body connection
and am convinced that
one of the reasons
that I'm doing as well as I am is because
imagine and contain my disease.
When I began this, I thought it was
but the more I read,
the more I become convinced that
attitude is an important part of
I've read several books that have helped me
learned to meditate
and visualize the cancer.
I really believe that
these are helpful
and I'd be glad to give you the names
of the books
if you think that
would help anyone.
There are also books by cancer
that generally give coping strategies that help.
thing that helps me most,
I think, is having loving friends and
family to share my fears with.
I would love for you to publish this
on your website but if you don't,
please do stress to everyone that
your pain and fear eases your burden.
It works for me.
also read that there's a study
about the effects of talc pleurodesis
(which I had).
That's the surgery where they "cement"
your lung to
stop it from repeatedly
filling with fluid.
It seems that a lot of
who undergo this procedure do
better than expected.
to be able to arrest
the disease in some of us.
I don't remember
where I read it,
but I know that I found it through a web search
typing mesothelioma AND pleurodesis.
I check my web mail every few days
in the hope of hearing from
and I'm so glad when I do.
Try not to be too discouraged and
there is anything I can do or
offer any hope to anyone,
30th April; 2000,
Deidre, When I was in
I noticed that I had a little trouble
getting that last
Only it was more when I was relaxed
than at any other
I asked the doctor about it and at the time
it was nothing to
"Kitchen Table Wisdom" by Remen
is a book of short stories,
mostly about cancer patients
learning how to accept their illness.
She wrote a follow-up book
"Tuesdays with Morrie"
It is very popular here.
Mitch Albom (I
think that's how you spell it)
writes of his teacher's last days
it's very moving.
It helped me to accept my own mortality
and not be
Of course there's Jack Ruda's book
which deals with
I don't know if I mentioned this but if
I did, please don't
although you can if I didn't tell you.
into a surgical procedure called
talc pleurodesis as a way to put
mesothelioma on hold.
There's a study going on here that
I'd be very
interested to see the results of.
I had that operation.
fluid from accumulating,
which is apparently how the disease
Mine was a year and a half ago.
It's a piece of cake
the other things they offer.
1st May; 2000. Hi, my friend,
I've been thinking about you a
and hoping that you are okay.
They say that we don't look at our
about death until we begin the process
of healing so I hope
that means that you
are on the path to peace.
You can certainly
give my address
to anyone you want,
for any reason you choose.
trust your judgment completely.
Do you know that yours is the only
that's not written by doctors or lawyers,
which to me makes it
the only one
without an agenda?
It looks like money wouldn't stop
me from visiting you.
My lawyer got me the second largest settlement
ever from one of the companies.
Of course I don't have the money yet
but I do have the promise.
And of course I'd rather have my health
but at least I get to live the rest of my lif
e in a way I never
It's been over a year and a half
since I was
can you believe it? I can't.
For now, I'm enjoying every
My life has become holy and I treasure it.
I even love doing
the things I used
to hate (like washing the dishes after dinner)
because I'm so happy that I can do them.
On a heavier note, if I
the first thing that happens
is I feel it in my
This may or may not be
because of the mesothelioma,
But don't jump to conclusions,
it could be anything.
Thank you for your concern
but my house is never empty.
friends will be staying here
(sort of a vacation for them)
they'll be taking care of
our dogs and cat.
Woodstock is sort of a
here in the States.
My house is set into the
and you can't see any other house
or even hear cars go by.
It's a piece of heaven and my
friends look forward to staying
Anyway, take care and God bless. Sherry
2nd May;2000, Deidre,
I think of us as friends
I wish that I was qualified in some way
people but I never
even finished college.
Jack Ruda is on the
here in the States.
He goes around the country
helping people with cancer.
He's what we call an inspirational
I had looked at your entire site
when I first found it
since chemo my memory's not as
good as it used to be and I guess
I forgot that you're a few years older than me.
stopped going for the tests because I
couldn't bear the wait and
they had nothing to give me anyway.
It was as if the test was the
Once I realized that they were only
guessing most things
it seemed pointless to get the scans.
I'm going to go on
my treadmill now.
My breathing is a little down generally,
stairs and all,
and the treadmill seems to bring my endurance
Talk to you soon, I hope. Sherry
13th July, 2000; Hi Deidre
Sorry I haven't got back to you
but I've been real busy.
My husband was ill but he's alright
It was a real scare for a while.
I got a good report from the doctor.
Didn't get an MRI but my
oxygen intake level is 97% on my
bad lung and 98% on the good one
There hasn't been any fluid
for a long time.
I'm going to write
you a longer letter,
but I have to run.
Take care. Love Sherry.
1st September; 2000
I looked at Jack's site and
all I can say
is, "Go, Jack!"
Isn't he inspiring?
As for me, I've gotten a bad
and have to re-evaluate what to do.
I have six new masses,
and the ones I already had show some growth.
coming up on my two year mark though,
and like Jack, feel pretty
I'm still very hopeful.
This Sunday morning,
friends are coming for a prayer circle,
something I have never had
I'll keep in touch with you about that.
Have you ever
heard from Jim or June?
Keep going with your good work.
can't imagine how much it benefits
someone like me to read it.
You are an angel.
I may look into Jack's radiology,
I'll let you know what I do. Sherry
8th September; 2000.Hi Deidre,
Well, I started
chemotherapy again yesterday.
I have a lot of confidence in my
and he said that I reacted wonderfully
to it the last time.
Here in America he's called the
"Grandaddy of Mesothelioma"
He's a kindly older man (about 70)
and he knows everything
traditional and alternative
that's out there.
I'll let you know how
In the meanwhile, all is well at home.
that a short treatment
of chemo will help again.
I don't know if I
but my last report showed significant growth
in fact, I
had seven new masses
and all my old ones had doubled
or more in
Keep in touch, I'll email you soon.
I'm glad Jack has his
site up, Sherry.
9th October; 2000; Hi, Deidre,
Well, my chemo regimen is two
two weeks off,
so that means that I have two
free weeks a
They haven't taken any pictures yet,
so I don't know how I'm
I'm pretty unsymptomatic still,
as long as I don't try to go
or hiking or anything in a high altitude.
So what's the
weather like in December?
I will have a CT scan done in November
I hope that I have something to celebrate!
As for Dalinda, I hope
that her balance problem
is just a side effect of one of
Have you heard from Jim or June?
anything new from Jack Ruda?
I'm going to go check your updated
Write soon. Love,Sherry
1th October; 2000; Hi Deidre,
I had gone to see my daughter in Utah,
where the altitude is much higher
than where I lived.
I was okay
when I was standing still
but if I tried to climb even
two or three
I had to rest for a long time
and wait for my breath to come
I figured that by the time I got home,
it would fix
Instead, it got worse.
I would walk a few steps and feel
as if I wasn't getting enough air.
I would have to rest just going
from my bed
to my bathroom (just a few feet of walking).
took the train to work,
I had to allow 15 minutes just to get up
steps (including resting).
I didn't tell anybody.
Finally, I went to a doctor who said
I probably had bronchitis or
pleurisy or something.
He gave me antibiotics.
They didn't work, of
Then the chest x-ray.
The technician said that I had
awful lot of scar tissue
on my lung and asked me what kind of
surgery I had had.
(The answer was NONE.)
Back to the doctor who
told me that
they would have to drain my lung.
They removed ten or
that first time and the doctor
who I had only met that
"Listen, I'm going to do you a favor.
There's only one
thing this can be.
It's very serious.
By the time they confirm your
there's a good chance you won't be around.
Go home, put
your affairs in order
and if there's anything you want to do,
now because in a few weeks
you're not going to be able to do
"Dumb Greek bastard," I thought to myself.
Well, they sent
the fluid for biopsy
and it came back meso,
which I had never heard
I didn't believe it.
I was still having trouble breathing though
and they drained another
eight to ten liters.
This time I insisted
check me for everything on earth.
All the tests came back
Several surgeries later,
even I couldn't deny it.
to have sore throats,
pain in my shoulder and rib cage,
catching my breath, etc.
IT TURNED OUT TO BE ANXIETY.
symptom I had really
was difficulty breathing.
All the rest was
in my mind.
It was fear doing a number on me.
I suppose that the
fluid had been
building for a few months
but I don't know for sure.
I remember walking through New York
with a friend of mine and not
being able to keep up with her.
That was in June.
By October I had a
I've just passed my two year mark
and probably almost two and a half years
since the fluid began and I
feel healthier than ever.
I was not sure if any of you had
received this news of Sherry's passing.
I hadn't seen it listed so thought
I would post it in case you wandered
why she wasn't on anymore.
I shall miss her terribly as I feel as though
I have lost a very good
She was so positive with everything
she did and I always looked
forward to her mail. Deidre.
Sherry A. Strumph Levit, 53, of Shokan,
NY died on Monday, April 29, 2002
at her home after a courageous battle
with mesothelioma that drew the
A "Fire Island hippie,"
she was the confident of and
most able assistant
late Peter Morrison, Esq,
Attorney General for the
State of New York and the
of Transcript Associates,
a media services company in Manhattan.
and celebration of life was an
inspiration to her many
friends and relatives.
Surviving are her husband Hiram;
her daughter Kristin Hooten;
her sister Eileen Forte;
and brother Joseph Strumph.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend
a celebration of her life at
in Woodstock, NY on
Wednesday at 1:00 PM.