Rushville Republican

July 6, 2010

Bedel approaches third year cancer-free



At the very beginning of the long and painful journey that she is still trekking today, Janelle Bedel thought she had a chronic sinus infection. But when doctors struggled to find the cause of her back pain and the swelling in her lungs, she searched her symptoms online. Her searches came back with the virtually impossible result: Mesothelioma, a disease that most frequently affects older men and women who have been around the fire retardant asbestos. But she was 31 years old when biopsy results convincingly showed that she did, in fact, have the incurable cancer that grows in the covering of the lung and the lining of pleural and abdominal cavities. The Republican followed Bedel through a leg of her journey three years ago as she went through scans, tests, chemotherapy and ultimately the surgery in New York to remove her lung. The surgery was a great success in a scary, all-or-nothing situation. “[Dr. Valerie Rusch] said at the least she could go in and open me up, and if she can remove it all she will, and if she can’t she won’t touch me,” Bedel said. “It was like an up-and-down roller coaster. I didn’t know when I woke up if she’d done anything.” But Rusch did do something and it’s the reason that Bedel is able to say that August will mark her third year cancer-free. “That time with recovery, I was a lot happier. It didn’t bother me what I had to do or how hard it was,” she said; following a surgery she had before the Mesothelioma diagnosis she was discouraged because she only got worse. Since that successful surgery and the Republican’s articles, Bedel has been through a tough, two and a half year recovery with radiation, physical therapy, withdrawals from going off medications and countless other doctors’ appointments. Even though life expectancy after the surgery she had is about 10 months, she will go back to New York Aug. 10 for her three-year check-up. Bedel has been busy in the meantime helping to spread awareness of the disease. A few weeks ago, she returned from Washington, D.C. where she participated in the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma. “It’s where doctors meet up and researchers and scientists and patients. I got to meet a lot of patients and other people who had had the same surgery I did, which was cool,” she said. She also spoke to U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, Sen. Richard Lugar and Sen. Evan Bayh. She told them her story and lobbied for signatures on House Resolution 771, a motion to officially declare Sept. 26 as national Mesothelioma Awareness Day. The resolution needs 12 more signatures before it can move forward. Bedel is also working on fundraising to benefit research for a cure for Mesothelioma. She’s involved with the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation where she plans to volunteer to help with their newsletters. She also has her own fundraising page on their Web site,, where her money will go to the foundation and, hopefully from there, onto the hospital that treated her in New York for research and finding better ways to diagnose the disease earlier. She said she wishes she had known about this foundation while she was going through her treatments. “They have their own nurse that talks to patients and they have so much information,” she said. “When I was depressed and I couldn’t find anybody who was going through what I was going through, it would’ve helped a lot.” Bedel is also trying to get the sponsorship for a Miles for Meso 5K walk/run in Rushville this fall to earn money for her fundraising page. “Almost everyone would participate and it would be really big,” she said. She says now, with the worst behind her and only biannual doctor visits, she tries to be positive about her situation, stay healthy and help others by raising awareness. If anything shows the strides she’s made in defeating the cancer and keeping an optimistic attitude, it’s one of her recent Facebook posts. “remember... the world always looks brighter from behind a smile.”