'I Don't Want To Be Mr. Cancer'

Chuck Strahl is the well-spoken, well-liked Conservative who has been holding the bucolic Fraser Valley seat in Canadian Parliament since 1993. Having successfully held his seat in a liberal-dominated Canadian Parliament for 12 years and beating his nearest opponent by 15,000 votes in the last election, Mr. Strahl is a force to be reckoned with. Nothing is going to stop him from continuing to serve his public, not even the fatal cancer affecting the tissue that lines his lungs.

In August of 2005, Mr. Strahl was diagnosed with early stage pleural malignant mesothelioma. The incurable cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous metamorphic mineral that has been regulated throughout the world to prevent the spread of asbestos-related diseases.

A former logging contractor, Mr. Stahl spent a great deal of his early working days inhaling asbestos brake dust expelled from the heavy equipment that played an essential role in his daily work.

At 48, Mr. Strahl is a part of an increasingly growing younger group of mesothelioma sufferers. The upside of the diagnosis is that the disease is in an extremely early stage, a rarity with mesothelioma. Mr. Strahl was forced into a doctor's visit after suffering a collapsed lung. It was during his treatment that the early stage pleural cancer was detected.

Mesothelioma is an incurably latent disease. It can take anywhere from 30 to 40- years to become symptomatic before prompting sufferers to seek medical attention. It is for this reason that mesothelioma is rarely diagnosed at an early age and why mean post-diagnostic survival time ranges between one and two years. Traditional methods of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have been unsuccessful in combating the aggressive disease. Newer treatment modalities are continuously being researched and developed with the hope of experiencing success where traditional methods of treatment have not.

The irony of Mr. Stahl's situation is that it was caught too early. As noted above, commonly practiced treatments have not yielded success in combating the disease. The newer methods are in the clinical trial process, for which patients must meet certain eligibility requirements. For this reason, Mr. Stahl's young age works against him, as the trials typically seek older patients suffering from more advanced stages of the mesothelial cancer.

Aware that surgical and radiation therapies will have little to no effect on his cancer, Mr. Stahl is turning his optimism towards some of the newer treatment modalities that he might not be eligible for, such as radical chemotherapy treatments and gene therapy treatments.

All things considered, Mr. Stahl is approaching his disease from the best possible mindset, continuing to live his life the way he wants to and not simply sitting back and waiting for the disease to strike him down. Hoping to avoid being tagged as 'Mr. Cancer,' Mr. Stahl sees no reason why he shouldn't continue to serve the public by seeking a fifth term in Parliament by running in the January 23rd federal election.

Mr. Stahl is a model example for disease-stricken people everywhere. By casting off the negativity and choosing to live his life, Mr. Stahl is guaranteed to make the most of whatever time he is left with.

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