Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/ Commentary on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure at Navy Shipyards and other jobsite locations. en-us Spring 2018 Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship Winner Sirena Cordova Staff https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/spring-2018-mesothelioma-cancer-alliance-scholarship-winner-sirena-cordova.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/spring-2018-mesothelioma-cancer-alliance-scholarship-winner-sirena-cordova.htm Wed, 10 Jan 2018 05:00:00 GMT The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is pleased to announce the winner of the Spring 2018 Scholarship, Sirena Cordova. Sirena is currently pursuing graduate studies at SUNY Empire, after receiving her bachelor's degree from the college in June 2017. She became the first member of her family to graduate from college, an achievement that became more difficult than she expected as her personal life faced many traumatic events along the way. Cancer & Caregiving Events & Support Legal and Financial Help

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is pleased to announce the winner of the Spring 2018 Scholarship, Sirena Cordova.

Sirena is currently pursuing graduate studies at SUNY Empire, after receiving her bachelor's degree from the college in June 2017. She became the first member of her family to graduate from college, an achievement that became more difficult than she expected as her personal life faced many traumatic events along the way.

As soon as Sirena started her college career, life continued to throw hurdle after hurdle at her family. Her partner lost his job soon after she started her first semester of school, adding a financial strain and a lot of scrambling on her end to ensure bills would be covered. In addition to her full-time position at the Department of Social Services as a caseworker, she took on a second job on top of her duties as a mom and her schoolwork.

After 18 months of such stress, the family thought they were finally catching a break as her partner returned to work. But just a few months later, the family faced turmoil once more that would only continue to grow as Sirena continued her education.

An Unexpected Cancer Diagnosis

In April 2015, Sirena and her family all breathed a bit easier as her partner returned to work. Unfortunately, the relief they felt was short lived. “By October, [my partner] felt a lump in his chest that started as the size of a grape, and by late November, grew into the size of a plum,” Sirena explained in her essay.

Her partner was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic male breast cancer. Stage 3 cancer typically indicates some spreading has occurred, often entailing metastasis to the lymph nodes. It is considered an advanced stage, and depending on the type of cancer generally also means more limited treatment options are available for the patient. Her partner underwent a double mastectomy, followed by intensive chemotherapy and radiation.

During these months of treatment, her partner couldn’t work, and the family faced the financial strains of treatment on top of their usual expenses. In addition to her full-time job, caring for her kids and attending school, Sirena faced the stress and worry of her partner’s cancer and financial instability. Despite having so much on her plate already, she began an overnight job at a domestic violence safe house four nights each week. Sirena would have to go from her night job right to her job as a caseworker, trying to keep up with her school work when she had free time at her night shift.

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“I was constantly tired, irritable and consumed by anxiety. My eyes would twitch from constant stress. But I soldiered on, committed to my responsibilities,” Sirena said.

Fortunately, the family’s fortune started to look up as her partner found out he was in remission in August 2016. He was able to go back to work, Sirena quit her second job, and it seemed she’d be able to go into her final year of college with more ease.

The Hardships of Cancer Recurrence

Sadly, just as soon as life started to go back to normal for the family, they faced even more bad news. Sirena’s partner learned his cancer had returned more aggressively, with spreading to his lungs. He received a stage 4 diagnosis, and he became too weak to even bathe on his own. Sirena became his caregiver and made his medical decisions, in addition to all her normal responsibilities and returning to her second night-time job to cover their additional expenses.

In the midst of this health crisis, her son also received an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis. Fortunately, he was able to seek group therapy to help improve his condition, but it was a struggle to balance one more hardship in the face of so much already. But in the face of it all, Sirena started her final year of college in January and put all she had into her education.

“I threw myself into my studies in between all my appointments and responsibilities because I wanted to finish strong. School saved me from having a nervous breakdown,” Sirena explained. “It allowed me to focus my energy on my essays and discussions, not the traumatic events that kept unfolding in front of me. Doing well in school lifted my spirits, it gave me hope.”

Thankfully, with the new school year, things started to turn around. Her son made progress in his group therapy, finding further support from his brother. After seeking chemotherapy and radiation at a cancer treatment center in Boston, Sirena’s partner went into remission, though the family doesn’t take his current condition for granted. “I take his cancer day by day at this point,” Sirena said. “He is in remission today.”

Looking Toward a Bright Future

As the family’s health improved, Sirena also saw more positive gains at school and work. She was awarded the 2017 Student Service Award at SUNY Empire for her community work. She was promoted to a senior supervisor at her job. Even though her family had such hardships throughout her college career, Sirena still graduated with a high GPA and became the first in her family to do so.

Now, as she moves ahead with graduate school, Sirena wants to use the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship to continue making a difference in her community and beyond. “It is my hope that more emphasis is placed on the working poor, systematic racism, incarcerated youth, children of incarcerated parents, rehabilitation for addicts and offenders,” Sirena explained. “My main interest, though, is in the aging-out population of foster care children. I want to innovate change for them so they can succeed with support services.”

“I am proof that despite my circumstances, if you want something bad enough, you can have it. There is no excuse in life, only actions count,” Sirena continued. I have taken responsibility for my life during the highs and lows and want to extend that mentality of perseverance to everyone in my path.”

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is honored to present the scholarship to Sirena, who has already dedicated so much of her life to helping others in need. We look forward to hearing about all the positive change she makes in her community and the larger nation.

Applications for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship for Fall 2018 are now open. If you have had cancer, or have seen a loved one go through a battle with cancer, submit your essay today and receive a chance to win $4,000 toward your college education. The deadline for the Fall 2018 semester is March 31, 2018.

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How a Breath Test Can Detect Mesothelioma in Earlier Stages Jillian McKee https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/how-a-breath-test-can-detect-mesothelioma-in-earlier-stages.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/how-a-breath-test-can-detect-mesothelioma-in-earlier-stages.htm Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:00:00 GMT One of the known challenges of effectively treating mesothelioma is the difficulty in properly diagnosing the rare cancer in its early stages. The long latency period after asbestos exposure coupled with nonspecific symptoms often lead to misdiagnosis until the mesothelioma has become more advanced. Asbestos Exposure Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Survivors Mesothelioma Treatment

One of the known challenges of effectively treating mesothelioma is the difficulty in properly diagnosing the rare cancer in its early stages. The long latency period after asbestos exposure coupled with nonspecific symptoms often lead to misdiagnosis until the mesothelioma has become more advanced.

Many studies have focused on ways to help effectively detect mesothelioma early, allowing for more treatment options and an improved prognosis. In recent years, researchers have discovered various biomarkers that can help detect the presence of mesothelioma cells and enable doctors to diagnose the disease sooner. Researchers have also been further investigating gene mutations and fusions linked with mesothelioma that can help detect and better treat the disease.

A study from 2016 has even shown that compounds in a patient’s breath can quite accurately detect the presence of malignant pleural mesothelioma. In December, the researchers behind the study released their results from an even wider study on breath analysis for mesothelioma, which validated their prior results.

How Breath Analysis Works

Studying a patient’s breath for markers of disease, including various types of cancer, has been an interesting area of research in more recent years. Analyzing a breath sample is non-invasive, extremely time efficient, and can provide a lot of information regarding a person’s health. Though there are many methods and types of equipment that can be used for such analysis, the researchers at Gent University in Belgium behind these studies relied on multicapillary column-ion mobility spectrometry (MCC/IMS).

The MCC/IMS method has been noted as being able to conduct a full breath analysis in just about 10 minutes. On its own, ion mobility spectrometry is an analytical device that separates and identifies molecules in gas, and has been used for detecting many substances including drugs and explosives, as well as in the medical field with various diseases. The device is very sensitive, and can detect even the slightest trace of a substance.

The MCC/IMS method works by detecting volatile organic compounds in the breath, which can infer someone’s health status. These compounds in the body are mostly blood-borne and act as biomarkers for specific diseases. Detecting certain volatile organic compounds has helped researchers detect various kinds of cancer, like mesothelioma, lung cancer and breast cancer, as well as other diseases.

Breath Analysis to Detect Mesothelioma

In their first released study, the researchers in Belgium analyzed breath samples of 66 patients from three specific groups:

  • 23 participants already diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma
  • 22 participants who formerly worked with asbestos but showed no symptoms of disease
  • 21 participants of a healthy controlled group, with no known exposure to asbestos

With this study, researchers found they were able to detect those with mesothelioma versus the healthy control group and former asbestos workers at an overall 87% accuracy rate. The high accuracy and sensitivity of the test suggested to the researchers that breath analysis through MCC/IMS could be an effective method to detect mesothelioma and act as a screening tool for those most at risk.

Just last month, the same researchers released the results from the next phase of this study, which included a wider, more varied pool of participants. This time breath samples were collected from six groups of participants, including:

  • 52 patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma
  • 59 former asbestos workers showing no sign of disease
  • 41 patients with benign asbestos-related diseases
  • 70 patients with benign lung diseases not associated with asbestos exposure
  • 56 patients diagnosed with lung cancer
  • 52 healthy participants with no past asbestos exposure

The breath tests provided varied results among the groups, though many with very high accuracy. For instance, the researchers found an accuracy of 96% when differentiating former asbestos workers and those with a benign asbestos-related disease from those diagnosed with mesothelioma.

This study served as a validation of their prior results, helping to further show that such tests could differentiate between patients with mesothelioma and those at a high risk of disease with great accuracy. Based on their results, the researchers concluded that breath analysis could be used as a screening tool to help rule out mesothelioma or detect the disease sooner. Early detection like this could greatly increase patients’ treatment options and improve overall survival.

More Research in the New Year

Finding potential screening methods or improvements to diagnose mesothelioma at an earlier stage can mean a huge difference for many patients. Mesothelioma survival rates have improved very slightly over the years, but there is still a long way to go. Most patients still face a prognosis of just 1 year or maybe up to 21 months, partially because of the difficulties in detecting the disease.

This study provides hope that researchers can continue to find ways to improve diagnosing mesothelioma. With more research, this breath test may be a viable option to utilize at a larger scale when examining patients with past asbestos exposure. With other methods for breath analysis, determining the sensitivity and accuracy of other similar tests in detecting mesothelioma may also be another aspect of future clinical trials. This area of study overall is bringing exciting discoveries in diagnosing many types of cancer and disease, and hopefully will continue to be an important aspect of research in this new year.

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Most Inspirational Mesothelioma Stories for 2018 Staff https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/most-inspirational-mesothelioma-stories-for-2018.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/most-inspirational-mesothelioma-stories-for-2018.htm Fri, 29 Dec 2017 05:00:00 GMT While a lot of people are looking back at the impact of asbestos and mesothelioma over the past year, we at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance wanted to take a look ahead and shed some light on what we think will be some of the most inspirational stories to follow in the upcoming year. Cancer & Caregiving Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Survivors Mesothelioma Treatment

While a lot of people are looking back at the impact of asbestos and mesothelioma over the past year, we at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance wanted to take a look ahead and shed some light on what we think will be some of the most inspirational stories to follow in the upcoming year.

We would love to hear your thoughts, as well. Share your stories of hope and inspiration for the new year with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Keytruda and Immunotherapy Progress

In 2017, immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda® continued making headlines with FDA approvals and clinical trials for new and innovative uses of these drugs.

Over the last couple years, Keytruda has been approved as a treatment for several forms of cancer, including:

  • Advanced non–small cell lung cancer
  • Advanced melanoma
  • Advanced urothelial bladder cancer
  • Head and neck squamous cell cancer
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma

However, the biggest development for the immunotherapy drug came this past May when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved it to treat any solid tumors that show a specific genetic feature (biomarker) – specifically, microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR). This is the first time that the FDA has approved any kind of general cancer treatment in such a way.

What makes Keytruda promising for use as a mesothelioma treatment is its continued success in clinical trials. Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Baylor College of Medicine, and elsewhere are continuing to show incredible results with the drug.

Even more inspiring, however, are the personal stories of those cancer survivors who have taken Keytruda when all other options have been exhausted. Among those who credit the immunotherapy drug with helping them overcome their cancers are former President Jimmy Carter – whose melanoma had metastasized to his brain in 2015 – and long-term mesothelioma survivors Mavis Nye and Paul Zygielbaum.

Could 2018 be the year that Keytruda is approved to treat mesothelioma? It’s too soon to tell, but one thing is for sure: Those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have at least one more option available to them now than they did before.

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Medical Marijuana Laws Growing

This past year saw the addition of four newcomers to the growing list of states that now allow medicinal use of marijuana to treat side effects of cancer drugs. While four states may not seem like a lot, these new arrivals bring the total number of states that have passed medical marijuana laws up to 29 (along with the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico) – meaning that there are now more states that allow the use of the drug than don’t.

Medical marijuana is not itself a cancer treatment, but many cancer patients have praised the drug as a way to manage symptoms and side effects of the often debilitating chemotherapy drugs and other medications they have to take. Combating side effects to keep a high morale and improve overall quality of life can be a critical part of a holistic cancer treatment plan, as long-time mesothelioma survivor Stephen Jay Gould argued.

Although federal laws still prohibit any use of marijuana, growing public approval of its use for medical purposes signals that it may not be long until the drug is allowed in most states. A Gallup poll in October showed that public sentiment toward medical marijuana is more positive than ever, and it seems to be increasing fast. Notably, medicinal marijuana is now approved of by more than 50% of Republicans, a group that historically has disapproved of medical marijuana use and resisted the passage of laws that would allow it.

While 2018 may not be the year that marijuana finally becomes legal in every state – or at the federal level – we believe that support will continue to grow. Several states are expected to put the issue of medical marijuana on the ballot or before their legislatures in 2018, including Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah. Given the increased momentum of support, many others could join them.

Better Diagnostic Tools Means Longer Survival

Because mesothelioma is so rare, it can often be mistaken for other diseases or even missed altogether for a very long time. As a result, many people go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed until the cancer reaches stage 4 and has spread throughout the body.

Over the last 18 months, at least four new promising ways of detecting mesothelioma have been developed. These include:

Exosomes – Using substances that are created naturally during the cell generation process, scientists are looking at how use increased exosome levels as “exciting and potentially early targets for circulating markers” of mesothelioma. In other words, by measuring exosomes in the body, doctors could know sooner than ever whether mesothelioma cancer cells are being formed, even before major symptoms appear.

New BiomarkerBiomarkers are proteins and other substances naturally produced in the bloodstream. Blood tests (assays) can indicate when biomarker concentrations are unexpectedly high, indicating that something could be wrong. Fibroblast growth factor 18 (FGF18) is the latest biomarker that could be used to detect the presence of mesothelioma earlier than existing diagnostic methods. While other biomarkers exist, their effectiveness has been questioned, and the discovery of a more reliable biomarker could dramatically improve diagnostic methods.

Breath Test – Researchers in Belgium discovered in late 2016 that detecting mesothelioma could be as simple as giving someone a breath test. Through a process called multicapillary column/ion mobility spectrometry (MCC/IMS), scientists were able to distinguish those with mesothelioma from those who had no symptoms of the disease with an 87% accuracy rate. More recently, a validation study published in December 2017 shows that this method can be used to distinguish between those with mesothelioma and high-risk individuals with a high degree of accuracy.

MasSpec Pen – Perhaps the most high-tech solution to detecting cancer to arrive in recent years comes from a group of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, who developed a groundbreaking device that could help diagnose cancer in literally seconds. In short, the “MasSpec Pen” analyzes metabolites in living cells and matches them against a database of metabolic signatures to determine whether they are healthy or cancerous. While mesothelioma is not yet one of the supported cancers, adding new signatures to the database is relatively easy, now that the technology is developed. The new device is scheduled to begin use in operating rooms in 2018.

Individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma at an early stage are more likely to have a long life expectancy, with those who are diagnosed at stage 1 living as much as 9 months longer than those diagnosed at stage 4, on average. With more detection methods available, doctors have a greater ability to catch this deadly cancer sooner than ever.

Mesothelioma Hopes for the New Year

Thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, but while the disease is still extremely deadly and painful, medical advances are giving people more options than ever.

If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to someone who has survived the disease to learn more about the ways you can stay hopeful and learn what you can do to improve your own chances at survival.

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The Rise of Mesothelioma in Young Adults David Haas https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/the-rise-of-mesothelioma-in-young-adults.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/the-rise-of-mesothelioma-in-young-adults.htm Thu, 21 Dec 2017 05:00:00 GMT Mesothelioma has long been viewed as an old man’s disease. For many years, the typical patient would be a senior male, with the majority of new cases occurring in those 55 and older. But in more recent years, the health impacts of asbestos have started to become increasingly apparent in younger generations. Secondhand exposure to asbestos, as well as exposure through DIY home projects, have become bigger concerns in the community. Asbestos Exposure Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Survivors Mesothelioma Treatment Outreach & Awareness

Mesothelioma has long been viewed as an old man’s disease. For many years, the typical patient would be a senior male, with the majority of new cases occurring in those 55 and older. But in more recent years, the health impacts of asbestos have started to become increasingly apparent in younger generations. Secondhand exposure to asbestos, as well as exposure through DIY home projects, have become bigger concerns in the community.

As mesothelioma becomes more common in younger patients, researchers are realizing the differences in how the disease presents and the efficacy of treatments.

Mesothelioma in Younger Patients

In the last few years especially, more studies have come out investigating occurrences of mesothelioma in young adults. Just last month, a story came out about 23-year-old Danielle Smalley from the UK recently being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Smalley wasn’t entirely clear how she was exposed to asbestos, but believes she may have ingested the toxin from an old shed or maybe even a friend’s house.

In interviews, Smalley has said she didn’t even know what asbestos was or anything about its dangers until her diagnosis. The UK banned asbestos in 1999, however the mineral still remains in many old buildings, schools and homes. As long as these old uses remain, citizens like Smalley may easily face exposure to damaged materials containing the deadly fibers. Smalley has since undergone surgery and a heated chemotherapy wash, known as HIPEC, to hopefully kill the cancer cells and improve her life expectancy.

Another report from 2011 investigated the case of pleural mesothelioma in a 26-year-old patient. The male patient had experienced some symptoms, but waited some time before seeking help for what he was experiencing. He suffered chest pain, inflammation and swelling, night sweats and fevers. The young man told his doctors about exposure to asbestos when he was young. His primary school contained the toxin, as do thousands of other school buildings today, and he could have been exposed at any time between the age of 6 and 12.

After several initial tests, his doctors strongly believed the patient was suffering from mesothelioma and performed a thoracoscopy, a type of biopsy, to confirm. Despite his young age, the patient was diagnosed with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma. He began a multimodal chemotherapy regimen in the hopes of stabilizing the disease and improving his quality of life. At such a late stage, options are very limited and patients typically face palliative, rather than curative, treatment.

These are just two recent instances of mesothelioma diagnoses among young adults, but the unfortunate scenario is becoming more frequent and an important area of research.

How Mesothelioma Differs in Younger Patients

Compared to the typical older male patient, mesothelioma in these younger patients has various differences in how the disease presents and progresses. One study from earlier this year examined the differences between genetic characteristics, cell type, cancer growth and overall survival between a group of patients aged 35 or younger and a group of older patients.

Researchers found that younger mesothelioma patients tend to be women, many of whom didn’t report any known asbestos exposure. At the same time, their research showed the BAP1 protein, a mutation that has been identified as a marker for increased mesothelioma risk, was also less prevalent in the younger patients; however, the study didn’t explore other genetic data. The younger group also experienced a higher incidence of cancer in their family history than the older patients.

Researchers didn’t find major histological, or cell type, differences between the age groups either. The only scenario in which researchers saw the younger patients facing a poorer overall survival was in the instance of biphasic or sarcomatoid mesothelioma, and thus a much higher cancer cell growth rate. Overall, the researchers noted the main difference they saw was in the patient's genetics.

In prior studies, researchers have found a correlation between the presence of BAP1 and increased familial history of mesothelioma or other cancers, as well as an improved prognosis compared to those without the mutation. But BAP1 isn’t the only mutation linked to mesothelioma. Another study found a variety of possible gene fusions and mutations that could be signal an increased risk of mesothelioma among younger individuals.

Across all these studies, researchers noted the clear difference in mesothelioma patients’ genetics when developed at a younger age compared to older patients, making this an extremely important area of study.

The Dangers of Secondhand and DIY Exposures

Though genetics has been found to be a major factor in many diagnoses among younger people, other patients are facing the realities of secondhand exposure or exposure as a result of do-it-yourself home renovations. In both older and younger patients, the impact of exposure in these scenarios has led to more mesothelioma diagnoses in recent years.

Since asbestos still lingers in many older homes, any type of home improvement projects families decide to tackle without the help of any professionals can be a huge danger. Any damage done to existing asbestos can lead to the dangerous fibers becoming airborne. As in the case of Smalley ingesting asbestos, any loose asbestos-containing materials may also be a danger for children especially. Any bits of asbestos insulation, for instance, may be easily ingested, just as stories in the past about children eating lead paint chips at home.

Secondhand exposure has always been a concern, as those who work in certain industries using asbestos materials may risk unintentionally bringing fibers home with them on their clothing or equipment. In this way, their families may be exposed by handling their clothes or even just interacting with their loved one after they come home from work. Mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James, for instance, was exposed in this way, wearing her father’s work coat that was covered in asbestos dust.

Better awareness to avoid old uses of asbestos can make a huge difference in the incidence rate, as genetics alone are not an underlying cause of mesothelioma. But hopefully with more research, doctors can understand what genetic markers may best predict mesothelioma and use the information for both earlier detection and treatment, like gene therapy. As always, more mesothelioma research and awareness around the disease and its cause are crucial in this fight and helping protect people of all ages.

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Asbestos in Drinking Water: The Danger of Old Asbestos Pipes and Natural Disasters Emily Walsh https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/asbestos-in-drinking-water-the-danger-of-old-asbestos-pipes-and-natural-disasters.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/asbestos-in-drinking-water-the-danger-of-old-asbestos-pipes-and-natural-disasters.htm Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:00:00 GMT Asbestos is largely viewed as a concern when airborne fibers are inhaled. Studies have shown most mesothelioma cases and other asbestos-related diseases are largely caused from inhalation of the toxic fibers. However, ingestion is another prominent concern, especially in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos Exposure Health & Wellness Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Outreach & Awareness

Asbestos is largely viewed as a concern when airborne fibers are inhaled. Studies have shown most mesothelioma cases and other asbestos-related diseases are largely caused from inhalation of the toxic fibers. However, ingestion is another prominent concern, especially in cases of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Though ingestion may be a rarer cause compared to inhaled airborne fibers, residents in Texas and California have become more concerned with this possibility after experiencing asbestos-contaminated drinking water. Early this year, residents in two small Texas towns faced the disturbing possibility of drinking water containing more asbestos fibers than allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, asbestos is limited to 7 million fibers per liter (MFL). The EPA states citizens who consume water with higher than that amount over extended periods may face an increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps. Another recent study, however, has shown that asbestos in drinking water could potentially lead to the risk of cancer, including mesothelioma.

Asbestos in Old Pipes Leaching into Water

The problems of old pipes in the nation’s infrastructure is nothing new. In its heyday, asbestos was widely used in cement pipes to create a stronger, longer-lasting product. These asbestos pipes were first laid down as early as the 1930s and were believed to be more durable and resistant to corrosion. They were said to have a lifespan of about 70 years.

By the 1950s, however, regulations were in place for the use of asbestos piping for municipal water. But these new standards didn’t mean any old pipes were removed or updated. As such, many of these old pipes are still in the ground today and have reached or are reaching the end of their lifecycle, leading to more problems for residents. Even as early as the 1980s, some residents saw the harmful risks of asbestos in its water supply.

In 1985, the Town of Woodstock, New York experienced interruptions in their water service. Though the town’s asbestos pipes had been installed in the 1950s, the corrosiveness of the local water helped to break down the supposedly long-lasting, durable pipes in just a few decades. The contamination was so bad that showerheads and faucets were clogged with asbestos fibers. Tests of their water supply even suggested asbestos began leaching into the water around 1976. Residents were cautioned to stop using the water, and new pipes were installed the following year.

Residents in two Texas towns began to face similar problems early this year and late last year. Devine, Texas, citizens received a warning letter in November 2016 after the town saw higher than allowed asbestos levels in their water for a year. Testing done periodically from January through July revealed fluctuating asbestos levels of 14, 17 and 18 MFL, more than double the limits set by the EPA. The mayor of Devine said town officials did not believe it was a serious danger, since they were not told to cut off the water supply like in other cases, and hoped it was a mere testing issue. Though the city maintained the water was still safe to drink, many residents were rightly concerned and started buying bottled water instead while the town worked on securing grants to replace the pipes.

Schools in Arp, Texas, faced similar issues with the city’s old asbestos pipes this past August. The town’s mayor and superintendent for the district said the water was visibly discolored and clearly contaminated. Once testing revealed asbestos at levels of 10, 12 and 13 MFLs in the different areas, the town quickly took action. The schools were given water coolers and bottles of water for cooking and drinking, and construction went underway in October to replace the asbestos pipes.

Natural Disasters Can Lead to Contaminated Water

The nation’s old infrastructure created with toxins like lead and asbestos isn’t the only concern for contaminated drinking water. Sonoma and Marin counties in California were also faced with the possibility of asbestos and toxins entering their water supply after devastating wildfires in October exposed these pollutants in the burn zones. As rain was expected in the forecast, officials worried that the toxins would be washed into local rivers and streams – and eventually the public water supply.

They said Sonoma on its own has 617 streams that wind through the burn zones, which feed into the area’s main source of drinking water, the Russian River. At last report, the counties said the water supply remained safe for the several hundred thousand residents that rely on it, but would be monitored for any of these toxins throughout the season. In the meantime, the EPA had teams on the ground helping with cleanup and analyzing each burn area carefully for pollutants. The county has also been putting out sandbags to help catch any run-off rainwater before it enters any of the water sources and potentially causes contamination.

Toxic ash as well as other debris from natural disasters like this can always be cause for concern for asbestos exposure. Since many old buildings, including schools and homes, were built with asbestos or lead or other materials recognized today as toxic, when natural disasters like fires or hurricanes destroy or damage these buildings, all the pollutants release into the air and surrounding grounds.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, after experiencing severe hurricanes recently, is one of the most recent communities facing contaminated drinking water as a result. Taking into consideration the region’s 18 Superfund sites, areas deemed by the EPA as promoting a public health risk that need to be cleaned, officials were worried about hazardous chemicals from the sites as well as any toxins in old buildings leaching into the water. Understanding the risk of such toxins in the aftermath of these events is crucial to preventing dangers like asbestos in the local drinking water.

How to Stay Safe

The easiest way to help keep your water safe from any contaminants, like asbestos, is to use some type of water filtration. This can be as simple as models that go directly on your faucets or water pitchers that filter out impurities. Some may also invest in more expensive options, like a system for the whole house or under-the-sink models. It’s important to pay attention to what contaminants each filters out when deciding what option might be best for your home, as not all water filters or systems remove the same impurities.

As some residents did in these Texas towns, turning to bottled water may be another option when facing these health risks. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure water is bottled safely without risk of contamination. Companies selling these products must maintain quality testing and test samples before and after bottling. Consumers can take it a step further by checking their bottles and packaging for information on testing, and even get in touch with manufacturers to learn more about how often their water is tested and the methods used.

Overall, the best way to stay safe from asbestos and other toxins in our drinking water, buildings we frequent, and products is to stay educated on where they can be commonly found and any environmental issues in your local communities. We can all support and protect our loved ones from a mesothelioma or other deadly diagnosis by being better informed and raising awareness. Knowledge is crucial for prevention and until action is taken to ban and remove old uses of asbestos, like our water pipes, we will all continue to be at risk of exposure.

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How Brazil’s Asbestos Ban Impacts the Rest of the World Emily Walsh https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/how-brazils-asbestos-ban-impacts-the-rest-of-the-world.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/how-brazils-asbestos-ban-impacts-the-rest-of-the-world.htm Thu, 07 Dec 2017 05:00:00 GMT In the battle to ban asbestos across the globe, advocates have faced many challenges and setbacks. Still today, the majority of the world allows the mineral to be used, with only about 62 nations having banned the toxin so far. The asbestos industry is still booming in certain countries, most notably in Russia, the top producer of asbestos in the world. In other nations, like China and India, production of the toxin continues to grow massively each year. Asbestos Exposure Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Outreach & Awareness

In the battle to ban asbestos across the globe, advocates have faced many challenges and setbacks. Still today, the majority of the world allows the mineral to be used, with only about 62 nations having banned the toxin so far. The asbestos industry is still booming in certain countries, most notably in Russia, the top producer of asbestos in the world. In other nations, like China and India, production of the toxin continues to grow massively each year.

Despite these many challenges, advocates saw a huge victory recently. Last week, the Federal Supreme Court in Brazil voted 7 to 2 to ban chrysotile asbestos, which includes mining, processing, distribution and marketing of the toxin. Brazil has been the world’s third largest producer of the mineral for years, behind Russia and China.

Asbestos’ Long History in Brazil

The fight to ban asbestos in Brazil has been ongoing for decades, and only recently saw better momentum leading up to this nationwide ban. In August, the Brazilian supreme court allowed certain states to ban the toxin in the absence of a decision on the federal level for a nationwide ban. At that point, ten states, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, were able to prohibit its use and ultimately protect over 130 million citizens.

The case first came into question back in 2012, when asbestos exports and industry leaders presented evidence of the health risks and occupational hazards the mineral posed. A verdict wasn’t clear as the jury deliberated, and it took 5 years for this decision to finally pull through. The court met again after deciding to allow these ten states to ban asbestos, battling over the constitutional right of the government to enact a nationwide ban on the toxin. At this time, those in favor of banning the toxin technically won with a 5 to 4 vote, but the country needed at least 6 yes votes to move forward with this law. Thankfully, in their November vote, 7 out of 9 ministers ultimately decided the toxin should be banned.

Prior to this landmark move, asbestos had a long, important history in Brazil. Reports show that mining began back in 1939, and started producing significant amounts by the 1960s. By 2012, the country produced 306,500 tons of asbestos, a growth of 55% from 2011. The industry hasn’t grown at quite that rate in recent years, but they still produce hundreds of thousands of tons each year for exporting and consumption within their own industries. It has become an important aspect of their economy and provided many jobs over the years. Ultimately, though, all the jobs and money the mineral may have provided over these years will likely result in many thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses for years to come. Thankfully, the ban will help prevent further exposures and save many lives.

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How This Ban Impacts the U.S.

Though the U.S. hasn’t actively mined or produced asbestos since the last mine closed in 2002, the country is still an active importer of the toxin largely for the chlor-alkali industry. In 2015, agencies reported imports of 340 metric tons, roughly 95% of which came from Brazil. The rest of the asbestos was imported from top producer, Russia.

Reports estimate that since 2013, the U.S. has spent about $4 million on these asbestos imports, even though the chlor-alkali industry has alternative, safer means to produce chlorine. With Brazil no longer producing or exporting the mineral, officials note the U.S. will instead most likely turn to Russia. Russia has been the leading exporter and consumer of asbestos for many years, producing over 1 million metric tons each year. Experts have estimated Russia’s exports to be worth approximately $191 million U.S. dollars, making it clear how huge of an impact the toxin has on their economy and the difficulties advocates will face in ever achieving a ban there.

While the EPA is currently evaluating asbestos along with nine other chemicals, the limitations of this investigation are clear. The agency stated their investigation would not look into the widespread, dangerous legacy uses of the toxin, instead only focusing on a few current uses like that of the chlor-alkali industry. Some officials are worried by importing from a huge asbestos supporter like Russia, Americans will be even slower to act against the toxin. Still, the evaluations are a step in the right direction and hopefully will ultimately come to the same decision as Brazil and the more than 60 other nations who have already implemented a ban.

Progress Toward a Global Ban

Though this news is a big step in the right direction, there are still so many countries that have a long way to go. Considering the amount of asbestos exported and consumed in Russia alone and its impact on their economy, it will still be a long fight ahead to see a global ban on asbestos.

But the ban in Brazil shows strength even in the face of a negative economic impact. The mineral helps provide many jobs for the nation, between mining and all the industries, like construction, that still heavily use it in their materials. Their ban shows a nation that realizes the severe health risks of asbestos exposure far outweigh any potential “benefits” the mineral may provide.

Other nations are beginning to realize the need for change as well. Slowly but surely, more countries are adding to the list. Canada is still on track to fully ban the toxin by 2018. Not long ago, Moldova also promised to have a ban in place by 2019. With more bans, the world can start making an impact on the statistics.

125 million people are exposed to asbestos at work each year, with countless others facing other instances of exposure. Research shows about 40,000 new mesothelioma cases each year, on top of thousands of other diagnoses caused by asbestos. This week, Brazil is helping to positively change those deadly statistics well into the future, and hopefully more nations will be close behind.

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Jenni DeHart Remembers Her Father’s Battle with Stage 4 Pleural Mesothelioma MCA Warrior Stories https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/warrior/jenni-dehart-remembers-her-fathers-battle-with-stage-4-pleural-mesothelioma.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/warrior/jenni-dehart-remembers-her-fathers-battle-with-stage-4-pleural-mesothelioma.htm Wed, 29 Nov 2017 05:00:00 GMT Jim Leonard was a devoted dad and grandfather, enjoying retired life on the golf course and going to as many sporting events as he could. Leonard would cheer on his grandchildren and his hometown team, the Franklin Wildcats, and was a devoted fan of the University of Tennessee, a team he got to know as a young boy before his family moved to Ohio. Asbestos Exposure Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Treatment Outreach & Awareness

Jim Leonard was a devoted dad and grandfather, enjoying retired life on the golf course and going to as many sporting events as he could. Leonard would cheer on his grandchildren and his hometown team, the Franklin Wildcats, and was a devoted fan of the University of Tennessee, a team he got to know as a young boy before his family moved to Ohio.

“On Friday nights, you could find him at the football game in his reserved seat, or during basketball season, he was courtside rooting on the Cats!” Leonard’s daughter, Jenni DeHart recently recalled to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Leonard earned his retirement after working at a paper mill for 40 years to provide for their family. He was a loving father, and DeHart remembers herself and her two siblings having a wonderful home life. “Our parents raised us in a blue-collar home with a lot of love and a commitment to a strong work ethic and a devotion to family loyalty and small-town roots,” she said.

But this past May, what the family originally believed might have been a treatable case of the shingles turned out to be pleural mesothelioma.

Asbestos in the Workplace

An unfortunate reality for many Americans and workers around the globe is the heavy, though hidden, presence of asbestos in their workplaces. Researchers have even said as a result, asbestos is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the country.

Asbestos was a popular mineral for years because it was accessible and inexpensive, durable, and fire resistant. It was mined and used in thousands of products, from hair dryers to insulation and roofing. As such, many industries used asbestos in their equipment, in the buildings themselves, or even directly in the products they were making.

For Leonard working in the paper industry, he likely faced asbestos exposure from the construction of the paper mill and possibly the equipment he was using every day. Paper mills would often rely on asbestos for their drying machines or the talc and sandpaper backings they’d need. Talc has also been widely contaminated with asbestos, and may have been another means of exposure for these workers.

Though no amount of asbestos is considered safe, working in his industry for 40 years put Leonard at an even higher risk of exposure. Him and his family were unaware of the presence of asbestos at his job and the risk he was taking every day being there.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

It wasn’t until this year, after being retired for 17 years, that Leonard began to experience symptoms from his exposure. DeHart recalls her dad complaining of chest pain, having very little appetite, and slowing down on the golf course. Though his doctor initially suspected shingles, a blood test showed that wasn’t the case. Leonard was then referred to a pulmonologist for further testing.

“The pulmonologist quickly suspected lung cancer after seeing the results of the scans. Dad resigned himself to the fact that it could be cancer, even mentioning ‘I think my golfing days are over,’” DeHart said. “But we were praying and hoping it was not. Dad wasn’t a smoker, so it couldn’t be lung cancer.”

As they waited for the news, the family saw their dad continue to grow weaker. He didn’t want to eat and would become winded even after taking only 10 steps. Leonard had fluid removed from his lungs twice, and in June he went into surgery for a a biopsy of the mass in his lungs. “Afterward, the surgeon told my sister, Suzanne and I, that he suspected it was stage IV mesothelioma. When the surgeon told my dad the next day that he suspected mesothelioma, all Dad said was ‘I knew a few guys who died from this.’”

A week later, the family officially received the news that their beloved father had advanced-stage pleural mesothelioma. “Mesothelioma? The only thing my family knew of the disease is that we saw commercials about it from law firms,” DeHart explained to the MCA. “We didn’t know anyone who had it. It wasn’t on our radar. We became educated with the disease very quickly.”

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Facing Stage 4 Mesothelioma

In their research, DeHart and her family learned about the seriousness of this rare cancer. They were devastated to learn that not only could Leonard not be cured, but with his older age they’d be lucky if they would have him for another year. Stage 4 pleural mesothelioma is typically described as having spread throughout the body to other organs and the lymph nodes.

At this point, patients generally experience more noticeable and severe symptoms, and treatment focuses on helping to relieve these pains. With such an advanced stage of disease, even younger patients often only have palliative treatment as an option because the cancer has spread too far. Because of this, stage 4 mesothelioma patients have a life expectancy of about one year.

Leonard began palliative treatment shortly after receiving his official diagnosis. “He had his first and only chemo five days after his diagnosis. I remember the nurse telling him that day, the goal was not to cure, but to extend life. Dad handled that information like a champ, while I became sick to my stomach,” DeHart remembers.

Unfortunately, the chemotherapy didn’t have the results the family hoped for. Leonard faced strong side effects from the treatment, becoming bedridden, severely dehydrated, losing his appetite, and only wanting to sleep. DeHart describes her father’s decline as tragically being quite rapid.

“Two weeks after his first chemo, we had Hospice come into my parents’ home. On July 28th, three days after Hospice arrived, Dad passed away surrounded by his family. We prayed over him, and told him we loved him as he slipped away from us. He was 77 years old.”

The Need for Justice and Better Awareness

In the wake of their father’s tragic and untimely death, DeHart and her family want justice. As they had researched mesothelioma, they learned more about the dangers of asbestos and the bad business practices around the mineral. The family learned that not only did his career lead to his exposure and terminal cancer, but that many business executives were well aware of the dangers of the toxin and their employees facing exposure at work. But the costs and hassle of asbestos abatement and the presumed need to continue using asbestos in their products made many of these companies hold back.

DeHart explained to the MCA that her family desperately wants to see change in these practices. “Our family is angry. The factory is long gone, yet we want justice served for the unnecessary and senseless death of our father. A man who worked many long hours in a hot paper mill to provide for his family.”

His death has, however, given the family purpose in advocating for mesothelioma and the ban of asbestos. They hope sharing his story will help raise awareness for the disease, and are actively looking for other ways to get involved in the fight to ban the deadly toxin for good.

“How can such a progressive country still be exposing its citizens to this deadly fiber?,” DeHart continued. “Our family will do whatever is necessary to make sure another family doesn’t lose a mother or father to a death resulting from asbestos exposure. We will miss our father for the rest of our lives, and what hurts the most is knowing his death was completely preventable. Our dad died at the hands of corporate greed, and someone must answer for his death.”

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Talcum Powder Lawsuits: How Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Harms People Jackie Clark https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jackie/talcum-powder-lawsuits-how-asbestos-contaminated-talc-harms-people.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jackie/talcum-powder-lawsuits-how-asbestos-contaminated-talc-harms-people.htm Wed, 22 Nov 2017 05:00:00 GMT Talcum powder lawsuits have been a hot topic lately, especially as new documents reveal that Johnson & Johnson, a defendant in many of these cases, may have been aware of the toxic contaminants in their products all along. Court documents revealed that the company explicitly trained their employees to always reassure any concerned consumers that the products never contained any asbestos, despite knowing for decades that their talc had been contaminated. Asbestos Exposure Legal and Financial Help Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Survivors

Talcum powder lawsuits have been a hot topic lately, especially as new documents reveal that Johnson & Johnson, a defendant in many of these cases, may have been aware of the toxic contaminants in their products all along. Court documents revealed that the company explicitly trained their employees to always reassure any concerned consumers that the products never contained any asbestos, despite knowing for decades that their talc had been contaminated.

But Johnson & Johnson isn’t the only company with products on the market that knowingly contained asbestos and put consumers in danger. Other products like Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder from Colgate-Palmolive and Desert Flower from Whittaker Clark and Daniels have also been targeted for talcum powder lawsuits against them once consumers were diagnosed with mesothelioma decades after using these products.

Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Powder

Talcum powder has been used for many years in a wide variety of products, from baby powder and soap to more industrial lubrication and ceramics. Talc is a clay mineral that has been widely used because of its ability to absorb moisture. In its loose powder form, the mineral’s ability to reduce moisture and odor has made this product especially useful in personal hygiene products.

On its own, talc is considered rather safe, though there has been some research over the years on its link to certain forms of cancer. The main safety concern, however, is talc that has been contaminated with asbestos, specifically tremolite. Because they are chemically similar, these minerals are often mixed together in natural deposits, and separating them can be challenging.

Talc is mined in the United States and throughout the world, and as part of the mining process workers may drill, blast or crush the stone to extract the mineral. As they mine the talc, these contaminated mines may release the deadly tremolite fibers, putting the miners at risk as well as the consumers of the talc-based products the mineral is eventually used for.

In 1973, the FDA developed new standards that specifically stated all talc should be tested to ensure it is asbestos free, a law that remains in place today. In documents revealed in recent lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson stated a long history of testing of their talc never revealed any asbestos in their goods, and they are confident that their products have always been asbestos free.

The company also supplied documents that showed these tests of their talc through 1972, which revealed no trace of asbestos. However, experts have noted that even if testing did occur and showed no asbestos, the accuracy and precision of these tests would likely not be as reliable as testing done today. Additionally, other reports from 1973 and on used as evidence in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have shown in a study of their talc mine in Vermont that officials found trace amounts of two types of asbestos fibers.

Even more recent studies with more trusted testing may not necessarily show the whole picture. In 2012, the FDA released information on its evaluation for potentially contaminated talc in dozens of cosmetic products that took place over several years. The agency was able to test products like body powder and foundation from four companies, and said they found no asbestos. However, the results were merely labeled as informative, not conclusive because so few companies participated.

Even trace amounts of asbestos in a small amount of talc can pose a serious risk to the public, as no amount of exposure to asbestos is considered safe. The lack of certainty in the risk of asbestos in consumer products, and evidence that asbestos has been found in baby powder, toys, and crayons raises even more concern for consumer safety.

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Mesothelioma and Talcum Powder Lawsuits

The link between contaminated talcum powder and the risk for developing cancer has been known for decades. In recent lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, one of the primary defendants in numerous talcum powder lawsuits against their products, documents revealed a blatant disregard from the company for its consumers’ safety. The company faces thousands of lawsuits in regard to women developing ovarian cancer as a result of using these contaminated products, but they and companies with similar products have also faced similar lawsuits tied to mesothelioma.

In the past several years, they have been found liable in many talcum powder lawsuits in regard to ovarian cancer. Most recently, the company faced a $417 million verdict to a California woman in August who developed ovarian cancer after using their baby powder for decades. While there haven’t been as many lawsuits in regard to asbestos yet, the latency period for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases of upwards of 50 years to show symptoms implies that there could be more in the future.

Most recently, Johnson & Johnson faced an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit involving California resident Tina Herford, who claimed she developed mesothelioma due to her use of their baby powder products for nearly 40 years. This was the company’s first trial in regard to mesothelioma specifically. Earlier this month, a jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson, though her lawyer said in a statement one verdict shouldn’t imply that the company is innocent and juries will begin to hold them liable.

Other companies have faced similar lawsuits from mesothelioma victims. Colgate-Palmolive is facing a lawsuit brought by mesothelioma survivor Mary Lyons. Lyons provided evidence that her use of their Cashmere Bouquet powder for several decades is at least partially responsible for her diagnosis. The court determined there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial.

In the recent past, mesothelioma victims have exercised their legal rights and won in similar cases. In 2015, Colgate-Palmolive was found liable and California resident Judith Winkel was awarded $13 million. She provided the court enough evidence that her use of Cashmere Bouquet through the 1970s led to her later mesothelioma diagnosis. Whittaker Clark and Daniels have also faced lawsuits against their talcum powder products, like Desert Flower and Clubman powders, with $7 million and $18 million verdicts in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Regardless of the outcome of these trials, it’s important for these companies negligently selling contaminated talc or any products contaminated with asbestos to be held liable. Consumers facing these diagnoses in part from using these products need to understand their rights and hold these corporations responsible. Hopefully in the future, these companies and others will realize the severe impact their actions had and make positive changes to prevent any further harm to consumers.

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The Benefits of Comprehensive Support Services for Mesothelioma Families Dr. Raphael Bueno https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/raphael/the-benefits-of-comprehensive-support-services-for-mesothelioma-families.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/raphael/the-benefits-of-comprehensive-support-services-for-mesothelioma-families.htm Mon, 20 Nov 2017 05:00:00 GMT Following the diagnosis of mesothelioma, patients often feel overwhelmed. They have many questions and concerns—for themselves and for their families. Patients worry how their loved ones will cope. The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has a dedicated support team to provide comfort, compassion, and companionship during this difficult time for the patient as well as for the caregiver, most often the spouse. The IMP support staff includes a patient liaison coordinator, a chaplain, a dedicated social worker and two trained nurses who provide post-surgery care. Social worker Beth Flanzbaum, MSW, LICSW and chaplain John Kearns work alongside patient navigator Sheryl Ann Chicoine, Thornton House Coordinator Martha Williams, and nursing liaisons Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN and Ellie Ericson, RN. One of the physician assistants is also assigned as the mesothelioma PA every week. Together, they create a support network for mesothelioma patients and their families before, during, and after their stay at the hospital. Cancer & Caregiving Events & Support Mesothelioma Mesothelioma Diagnosis Mesothelioma Treatment Outreach & Awareness

Following the diagnosis of mesothelioma, patients often feel overwhelmed. They have many questions and concerns—for themselves and for their families. Patients worry how their loved ones will cope. The International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has a dedicated support team to provide comfort, compassion, and companionship during this difficult time for the patient as well as for the caregiver, most often the spouse. The IMP support staff includes a patient liaison coordinator, a chaplain, a dedicated social worker and two trained nurses who provide post-surgery care. Social worker Beth Flanzbaum, MSW, LICSW and chaplain John Kearns work alongside patient navigator Sheryl Ann Chicoine, Thornton House Coordinator Martha Williams, and nursing liaisons Lisa Hyde-Barrett, RN and Ellie Ericson, RN. One of the physician assistants is also assigned as the mesothelioma PA every week. Together, they create a support network for mesothelioma patients and their families before, during, and after their stay at the hospital.

At the time of the patient’s first appointment, the IMP hosts a new patient orientation that offers patients and their families, many of whom are from out of town, a comprehensive overview of the program and an opportunity to better understand the journey ahead of them. Patients and family members also meet others who may share the same diagnosis which can provide additional support, so that patients and their families don’t feel alone in battling this disease. We learned that the new patient orientation offers people hope and enables them to better understand their diagnosis and treatment options. They meet our support team and we allot ample time to address their questions and concerns.

To assist patients who have surgery, Beth spends time with them before, during, and after the operation. The day of surgery is a big day and naturally patients and their families are scared, so Beth explains what may likely happen during that day. She sits down with patients and their families to walk them through the stages of the surgery and the post-op recovery so that they are prepared for what may lie ahead. Her job is to help the patient and family members manage the anxiety that inevitably accompanies anyone facing surgery. In most cases, Beth is able to address many of their concerns and fears which helps to calm the patients and their families and fosters a more positive mindset going into the surgery and may ultimately have a positive effect on their recovery.

Beth and John Kearns, who have worked with mesothelioma patients and their families for many years, run a weekly lunchtime support group on the Thoracic Surgery floor of the BWH patient tower. These groups are yet another opportunity to connect family members with others experiencing similar circumstances.

Beth also runs a weekly breakfast support group for patients and family members who are rooming at the Thornton House. This provides another opportunity for patients and families to meet and discuss their experiences with mesothelioma surgery and recovery.

What makes the IMP’s support services unique is that its outreach extends to the families of the patients. We understand the crucial role of the caregivers and our support team helps to take care of them so that they have the emotional and physical strength to care for their loved ones. Furthermore, our patients are enormously relieved when they learn that their family will be cared for as well. It is often one less worry for them.

Our support team helps to advocate for our mesothelioma patients and families, who are trying to keep up with an intensely complicated medical situation.

Everyone who walks through our doors is likely to experience similar anxieties, fears, insecurities, and varying degrees of unfamiliarity with the treatment process. Being surrounded by people coping with a similar situation and experiencing similar emotions establishes a strong bond among the families who are part of the IMP family. Our support staff builds a community of comfort for our patients and their families that can help ease their emotional stress.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This blog post should not be interpreted as an endorsement by Dr. Bueno of the blog’s sponsor.

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High Cost of Asbestos Abatement Leaves Lower Income Communities at Risk Jillian McKee https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/high-cost-of-asbestos-abatement-leaves-lower-income-communities-at-risk.htm https://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/high-cost-of-asbestos-abatement-leaves-lower-income-communities-at-risk.htm Fri, 17 Nov 2017 05:00:00 GMT Asbestos abatement is an important aspect of preventing asbestos-related diseases. As most of the asbestos in the United States today can be found in legacy uses, especially in older buildings and homes, removing the toxin can greatly limit exposure for families living in these homes or workers in older buildings. Asbestos Exposure Health & Wellness Legal and Financial Help Mesothelioma

Asbestos abatement is an important aspect of preventing asbestos-related diseases. As most of the asbestos in the United States today can be found in legacy uses, especially in older buildings and homes, removing the toxin can greatly limit exposure for families living in these homes or workers in older buildings.

In the 1970s, reports show the United States consumed more than 800,000 tons of asbestos in just one year, which could be found in construction of these older buildings as well as many products. With such heavy past use, thousands of buildings, homes, and schools throughout the nation still contain asbestos. In the asbestos scoping document from the summer, the EPA reported that over 25.6 million pounds of friable asbestos waste were removed and disposed of just in 2015, and the amount of asbestos waste has been increasing each year. But there is still a long way to go to remove all past uses of the toxin.

Though asbestos is not considered a risk as long as the materials are undisturbed and in good condition, any damage to the materials--including general aging, construction or renovation, or even damage from storms--can lead to the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Exposure like this can develop into a number of serious health risks over time, including mesothelioma.

While abatement can help protect families, it is not always an accessible solution. Asbestos abatement can be quite expensive, and a cost that many lower or middle-income families cannot easily afford.

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The Costs of Asbestos Abatement

On average, it’s estimated asbestos abatement costs about $1,800 across the nation, though this will largely depend on the amount of asbestos being removed and the square footage of the area or areas being taken care of. Lead abatement is estimated to be in a similar price range, with a national average of about $2,000. Though the average cost of lead abatement is marginally more than asbestos removal, homeowners have more options and hope of receiving a grant to assist in the removal of the toxin.

Asbestos abatement, however, does not have many financial options to help cut or cover the high costs. On a federal level, the average homeowner will have a difficult time receiving any funds. Though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers grants through their Health Homes program, the money is only available for nonprofits, businesses, schools, and government buildings. Some states may have programs available to help cover the cost or make up the difference with tax credits, but may still not be enough help for the average homeowner or landlord.

On the other hand, HUD has developed a similar program for lead abatement that actually benefits private homeowners, called the Lead-Based Paint and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Programs. Both programs allow for privately owned housing, whether for owner occupants or rental, that fit certain eligibility to receive help paying for the identification and control of lead. Other agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control, also have their own programs that help families and businesses remove lead in a cost-efficient manner.

Lead has been linked to a variety of health problems, especially lead poisoning in children. It’s important for this toxin to be taken out of the home to avoid these risks, but asbestos presents serious health risks as well. Though asbestos is technically considered safe when left alone and in good shape, it’s only natural for older homes that contain asbestos materials to become more worn over time. Bad weather, old age, or the need to renovate or rebuild areas of the home can all result in exposing dangerous asbestos fibers or other toxins.

In these instances, families or landlords will need to have the asbestos encapsulated or removed to prevent potential exposure putting them and any workers at risk. But even though it’s the safest choice to bring in asbestos professionals, the cost can be offputting.

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Low Income Communities Facing More Exposure

The costs of abatement can be especially difficult for lower income households to bear. Reports have shown for many years that lower income communities typically face a wider array of health risks and environmental issues than those in more affluent areas, including asbestos and lead exposure.

A study from the Urban Institute found that people with lower incomes reported poorer overall health and a higher risk of disease, as well as a shorter life expectancy compared to higher income groups. These differences in health can be attributed to a number of factors including worse or no health insurance, inadequate housing, and more environmental pollution of indoor and outdoor air. The presence of lead paint or asbestos hidden in insulation or other areas of the home can be a huge risk for these communities.

The cost, however, will hold many residents and landlords back from moving forward with asbestos or lead abatement without financial assistance. In some cases, it may lead to more people deciding to try to tackle the problem themselves and move forward with renovations or repairs without the help of a professional first.

Though a quick fix like that might save money, it can also cause damage to these toxins and thus bring about serious health risks for anyone in the home or building. Asbestos fibers are invisible, making it even easier for the toxin to fill the air without notice. Many don’t realize they were ever exposed to asbestos until decades later when they finally start to notice symptoms.

Tackling serious toxins like lead or asbestos in a DIY style removal or ignoring the problems all together put these lower income communities seriously at risk.

A Need for Progress

Even as the EPA investigates asbestos with the hope of a potential ban in the future, these old uses of asbestos will remain for many years until action is taken to remove the toxin. Without the help of grants or other funding options, many Americans won’t be able to easily afford abatement on their own.

Policymakers need to recognize the need for better programs to make taking care of this health risk more accessible. Removing the danger now can prevent more needless deaths from the toxin decades in the future. Though some progress is being made with the EPA’s evaluations of asbestos and other chemicals, we need to do more now to start getting rid of the problem on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for more strict regulations to force change upon us.

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