The son of a 14-year mesothelioma survivor reveals the emotions and challenges that have shaped his life since learning of his mother’s cancer diagnosis

Matt Litton was 21 years old when his mother, Jill Litton, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Some family members and medical professionals suspect that Jill experienced secondhand asbestos exposure during her father’s service in the U.S. Navy. Unfortunately, no one is absolutely certain how she developed this aggressive and rare cancer.

In an interview with Mesothelioma Hope, Matt Litton discusses how his mother’s cancer diagnosis has impacted his family dynamic, explains the changes he has noticed in his own behavior, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how mesothelioma affects a patient’s emotional and mental health.

Initial Shock and Grasping the Diagnosis

Mesothelioma Hope (MH): What went through your mind when you first heard that your mother has mesothelioma?
Matt Litton (ML): My family and I were all devastated at the time, but I’m not sure that I fully grasped the scope of what it meant back then.

MH: How has this diagnosis changed your relationship with your mother?
ML: Our relationship has only grown stronger, as I have always been very close to my mother. But since having understood the severity of the situation and what this means for us as a family, I have visited my parents every single week, spending quality time with them and my nieces.

MH: Has this diagnosis affected your spiritual life?
ML: My spiritual sights have been largely unaffected, but it’s obvious to see that my mother has grown much closer to God. She never takes any day for granted and spends whatever time she can with my nieces and me.

Perspective Shift: Life, Family, and Love

MH: How has your perspective on life changed since witnessing this medical journey?
ML: The biggest change I have noticed in myself is that I have become much closer to my family. You’re not going to get a redo button in life, so spending time with family while you’re still able to has become the most valuable part of my life. As my nieces get older, and as we all age, it becomes increasingly clear to me what a gift family is and how much love helps us through hardships.

MH: During which moments do you feel the most hope and the most anxiety?
ML: Chemotherapy is brutally hard on my mom — more so than on most other patients. Every time her oncology team announces that her chemotherapy rounds are done is a massive blessing.

As far as anxiety goes, each time she has to go in for a bi-yearly scan, you can’t help but think of what it may show or think the worst could be right around the corner.

MH: How have you pursued support and comfort for yourself while managing your own concerns or fears about this diagnosis?
ML: I’m the type of person who deals with stress on my own. Aside from leaning on my mom or fiancée for support, I have not sought out any external comfort for myself — which is why thinking of a world without my mother is so difficult and painful.

Supporting a Loved One With Mesothelioma

MH: What advice would you give someone with a close family member fighting cancer?
ML: As a Mr. Fix-It type, it’s extremely hard on me to know that there is nothing I can do to cure her condition. I’m powerless to help my mom in this situation, and understanding and accepting that fact goes a long way in putting yourself at some type of ease.

“My advice to others in a similar circumstance is to be there for the person with the illness. As hard as it is to think of them not being around, it’s most definitely harder on them to go through this major challenge, and they need someone to lean on.”
—Matt Litton

MH: What do you wish people understood about mesothelioma specifically or cancer in general?
ML: People outside of this situation don’t seem to realize how mesothelioma terrorizes the patient. The mental fortitude that patients must possess in order to successfully manage the lasting effects — whether they be financial, physical, or psychological — is a form of terror.

Seeing my mom go through chemotherapy and grasping at any glimmer of relief is so heartbreaking. There is no relief other than knowing that the rounds of it end in six months. It makes you want to scream at the sky for her.

After watching her go through so many rounds of chemotherapy, I am certain that there is no one stronger than my mom.

Mesothelioma Survivors Guide
Get Your Free Survivors Guide
  • Survivors who beat the odds
  • Tips for fighting mesothelioma
  • Navigating life after treatment

Get It Shipped Overnight

Sara Bunch, Senior Editor, News & MediaWritten by:

Senior Editor, News & Media

Sara Bunch is a writer with a background in academic, entertainment, ethnic, and faith-based news media. She is a double alumna of California State University, Northridge, where she earned a B.A. degree in English and an M.A. degree in Mass Communication, with an emphasis in Journalism. Her master’s thesis focused on the coverage of ethnic and religious minorities in international news outlets.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You

Get Your Free 2024 Mesothelioma Guide

  • Symptoms & staging
  • Average prognosis
  • Life-extending treatments
Get Your Free Guide Now
Mesothelioma guide