After a decades-long career as an auto mechanic, mesothelioma throws a wrench into one retiree’s plans, but he refuses to let that slow him down
Retirement Doesn’t Mean Slowing Down
When Arthur “Art” Putt decided to retire from his career as an auto mechanic, he knew it wouldn’t be a time of sitting still. He was ready for a new adventure, so in the summer of 1983, he packed up his RV and moved from Indiana to Arizona.
Shortly after his move, he met Jan, a nurse who was also eager for travel and retirement. A few months later, Art and Jan got married in Las Vegas and began exploring the United States.
The couple ended up in Tennessee, where they both picked up seasonal contracts at Dollywood, a theme park started by actress and singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. Despite suffering a stroke a few days after starting work, Art continued to sell merchandise and chat with travelers.
“I sold so many souvenir mugs that they wanted me to do nothing but that. There’s nobody ever to this day that’s sold more mugs than I did.”
What was meant to be a short stopover turned into over 10 years of working at Dollywood. The Putts sold their RV and bought a home in Kodak, Tennessee, and had no intention of slowing down until a devastating diagnosis — mesothelioma — changed their plans.
Learn more about Art’s story and those of other survivors in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
Hitting a Roadblock
In 2018, Art began experiencing a troublesome cough. It was so persistent that he brought a cup with him everywhere he went to catch the phlegm he was coughing up.
As his symptoms worsened, he decided to go to the doctor. After an X-ray, his doctor said he had pneumonia, but the radiologist wasn’t convinced and ordered additional scans.
Art’s doctors said he might actually have pleural mesothelioma, a specific type of this rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lung lining and is caused by asbestos.
Unfortunately, Art was exposed to high amounts of asbestos during his career as an auto mechanic.
Asbestos: Hidden Dangers in the Auto Shop
Up to the 1980s, brake pads and other brake components were manufactured with asbestos because it made them incredibly durable and heat resistant. However, the intense friction from grinding and servicing brake pads could cause microscopic asbestos fibers to be released into the air and settle within the brake housings.
Mechanics like Art who changed out brakes and performed other maintenance work often breathed in asbestos dust on a daily basis.
“That’s also when we had done brakes the old-fashioned way. We did a lot of grinding with sandpaper and stuff to prepare the brakes that we put in and the new ones. We had dust everywhere. We didn’t know any better.”
Many brake manufacturers and other companies that made asbestos-containing products knew about the dangers of asbestos but hid this information from the public. As a result, they exposed millions of Americans to the cancer-causing material.
By the time the dangers became known, Art had begun wearing protective gear and taking other precautions to reduce his exposure. However, it was too late for him and many other workers.
If you were exposed to asbestos in a high-risk occupation and developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we can help. Contact our team today to learn about medical, financial, and support resources available to you and your family.
Taking a Treatment Detour
After doctors confirmed his diagnosis, Art was told he would have a life expectancy of 6 months to a year. It sent shockwaves through Art, Jan, and their children, but Art continued to fight.
He pursued various types of mesothelioma treatment, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Every three weeks, Art would go in for chemo, which required a couple of days of recovery from severe side effects. Doctors told him the treatments would not cure his cancer but might slow it down.
“It was kind of good to know that there was no cure for it in a way. Knowing there was no cure, I was able to make the best out of my life from that point on.”
Unfortunately, his treatment-related side effects continued to worsen, with his esophagus so irritated it was difficult to swallow solid foods. Additionally, his treatment became less effective as time went on, and the cancer continued to spread beyond his lungs, causing doctors to stop standard treatments altogether.
Natural Remedies Get Art Back on the Road to Health
Jan refused to give up on Art’s treatment. She and her daughter leaned on their experience as nurses and began researching alternative mesothelioma treatments to help him.
His side effects from chemotherapy and immunotherapy persisted, making it impossible for him to eat solid foods. But Jan knew Art needed proper nutrients to keep his body strong enough to recover.
After careful research, Art began drinking blended asparagus, beetroot powder, cottage cheese, and several oils twice a day. Jan thought this new mesothelioma diet could help reduce inflammation and boost Art’s immune system, and her hopes were fulfilled when he continued to feel better and eventually began eating again.
“At one time, doctors told me I’d never eat solid food again, but we showed them wrong.”
Thanks to treatment and the dedication of his wife and daughter, Art has surpassed his initial life expectancy by over 5 years.
Read more about Art’s story and get nutrition tips to help you work toward long-term survival in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
Refueling With Positivity
In the midst of a challenging diagnosis and even more challenging treatment, Art continues to hold on to a positive attitude and savor every minute with his loved ones.
“I would tell people diagnosed with this cancer to make the best of it. You can’t change it. Get as close to your family and friends as you can. Stay positive and keep a positive attitude.”
As the Putts continued their journey with mesothelioma, they decided to seek financial compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit against the company responsible for his asbestos exposure. Initially, Art was nervous about fighting a legal battle alongside his ongoing cancer battle, but when one of the couple’s lawyers came to their home, he put their worries at ease.
With the help of national mesothelioma law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy, Art was awarded $34 million in a verdict against brake pad manufacturer Ford Motor Company. The financial stability secured from his lawsuit allowed Art to continue getting treatment and making memories with the people he loves.
He also felt the worries he had about leaving his wife and children lifted as he was able to pay off debts and set aside money for his family.
“That’s also contributed to my positivity,” Art said about the verdict. “I relaxed a little more. I wasn’t so uptight about how I’m going to pay for this or that. And it’s allowed me to stay with Jan.”
Mesothelioma Hope: Helping Survivors Create More Memories
A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating, but Mesothelioma Hope is determined to help patients like Art become long-term survivors.
Our team believes you and your loved ones shouldn’t have to navigate mesothelioma alone.