Paul Kraus knows a thing or two about survival. The Australian author and Holocaust survivor is close to celebrating his 20th year of living with Mesothelioma, the deadly cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Being exposed to asbestos does not guarantee that a person will develop Mesothelioma, but people who work in certain industries such as construction, shipbuilding, mining, insulation, steelworks and manufacturing, are at a much higher risk of contracting this fatal form of cancer. One of the most frustrating aspects of the condition is that it can take quite a long time for any discernible symptoms of the disease to show up. After exposure, it usually takes at least 20 years for malignant Mesothelioma to develop, according to the National Cancer Institute.
For most people, The American Cancer Society reports that the grim diagnosis of malignant Mesothelioma typically means a life expectancy of between 12 months to 2 years. In Paul Kraus' case, doctors estimated that he had about six months to live after he was diagnosed in 1997. The former history teacher and his wife were devastated, but they refused to give in to despair. After all, Mr. Kraus had already been through a horrifying test of his will to survive. He was born in a Nazi forced labor camp and, after he and his family escaped by surviving a cross-country trek through war-torn Austria, the Kraus family eventually migrated in a Refugee ship to Australia.
Paul's tumultuous early beginnings, as noted in the bio on his official website, clearly prepared him well for facing the fight of his life many years later.
Mr. Kraus' diagnosis came about after he underwent surgery to repair a hernia. During the surgery, doctors discovered tumors in the lining of his abdomen that turned out to be malignant peritoneal Mesothelioma. He was 52 years old. At that time, there weren't any encouraging treatments available for the disease and he initially had little hope of surviving past the small window of life expectancy that his doctors proffered.
"When I was diagnosed, there was no conventional treatment considered curative…I was told to get my affairs in order," said Paul.
True to his roots, though, Paul quickly shifted gears into survivor mode. He developed a motto which he eventually used to encourage others who were suffering from Mesothelioma.
"Accept the diagnosis and reject the prognosis."In an interview with the website, MesotheliomaGuide.com, Paul credits having a positive attitude as a huge part of winning the battle against his initial prognosis. He also knows that following up his steely resolve with some radical, consistent actions is the main thing that helped to prolong his life.
Inspirational cancer survivor and author of 'Poetic Medicine', Paul Kraus: https://t.co/PzaGZaQNrr https://t.co/xQzP0awKAY pic.twitter.com/35TWBT1YTQLifestyle changes that Paul and his wife embarked on included:
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- Exercising regularly
- Using a variety of techniques to reduce anxiety and stress
- Becoming a vegetarian
- Taking high doses of vitamin C
- Juicing regularly to get nutrients
- Adhering to what he calls an "anti-cancer" diet, which consists of eliminating white sugar, processed foods, white flour and fried foods
These days, Paul advocates for Mesothelioma education and, with the help of websites such as SurvivingMesothelioma.com, he spends much of his time offering words of wisdom and hope to those suffering from the disease. His book, Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers, offers practical advice and a host of resources on where to find help, support and treatment options after a cancer diagnosis.
Although traditional medicine offers more treatment choices for Mesothelioma these days, Paul believes that patients should explore the total universe of options that exist to help survive this deadly disease.
"Conventional treatments now offer more options, but there is still the necessity to understand what is [offered]," he says.
[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]