The son of a 15-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’s cancer was caused by secondhand asbestos exposure during her father’s service in the U.S. Navy. Unfortunately, no one is absolutely certain how she developed mesothelioma.

Today, Matt shares how his mother’s cancer diagnosis has impacted his family, explains the changes he has noticed in his own life, and offers a firsthand look at how mesothelioma affects patients, families, and caregivers.

How a Mesothelioma Diagnosis Strengthened Family Bonds

When Jill was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma 15 years ago, Matt and his family were devastated. They didn’t quite grasp the scope of this cancer and how it would impact their future.

Matt was already close to his mother, but as the news sunk in, he knew he wanted to spend as much time with her and his family as possible.

“Since having understood the severity of the situation, I have visited my parents every single week, spending quality time with them and my nieces.”
– Matt Litton, son of 15-year mesothelioma survivor Jill Litton

Together, the Litton family was able to move through the initial shock of Jill’s mesothelioma diagnosis and grow their relationships even stronger. His mother, he recalled, also leaned on her faith in God to help her get through each day of this journey.

“She never takes any day for granted and spends whatever time she can with my nieces and me,” he said.

Learn how other patients and their families dealt with a diagnosis in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.

Maintaining Hope Through Hardship

As Jill underwent treatment, the family continued to stick close together for support, but there were challenges along the way.

Matt saw how brutal chemotherapy was for his mother — more so than other patients. It was common for Jill to remain in the hospital for a week after each round of chemotherapy to recover from her side effects.

Anytime her medical team announced she had completed treatment, Matt saw it as a massive blessing. Through it all, he continued to see his family as his greatest source of hope.

“As we all age, it becomes increasingly clear to me what a gift family is and how much love helps us through hardships.”
Matt Litton, son of 15-year mesothelioma survivor Jill Litton

Still, more than 15 years later, he continues to lean on his family to stay positive. “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,” he said.

Thinking of a world without his mother is still difficult and painful, which is why he continues to prioritize their relationship — as well as his fiancée and nieces — because he knows he’ll never get “a redo button.”

How to Support a Loved One With Mesothelioma

Considering himself a Mr. Fix-It, Matt struggled to accept there was nothing he could do to cure his mother’s cancer. However, accepting that the best thing he could do was be there for her during treatment gave him some comfort.

“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, son of 15-year mesothelioma survivor Jill Litton

He wishes others knew just how devastating mesothelioma can be — physically, emotionally, and financially. “It’s a form of terror,” Matt reflected.

Despite this, Matt was inspired by Jill’s mental fortitude to keep fighting. He now knows there’s no one stronger than his mother. As he’s gotten to spend more time with her, he explains that he just wants to scream at the sky for the relief he feels.

Mesothelioma Hope Is Here to Help You and Your Family

Matt’s story is just one of thousands of family members affected by mesothelioma every year. However, family support for loved ones facing a diagnosis can greatly improve their fight against this cancer. For this reason, Mesothelioma Hope is here to support families at every step of their journey.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, our team of Patient Advocates can help your family find:

  1. Specialists for personalized treatment
  2. Financial assistance to pay for medical expenses
  3. Resources to support your emotional and physical well-being

Get started today by calling (866) 608-8933 or learn how we’ve helped other families in our Free Survivors Guide.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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