One year ago today, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), along with three co-sponsors, introduced a bill to update the decades-old federal law that governs toxic chemicals – including asbestos. Just two days ago, that bill jumped over a major hurdle with the passage of an amendment that incorporates a number of changes suggested by the Senate. Now, it returns to the Senate for a final vote before, hopefully, being sent to President Obama to be signed into law.
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Johnie Beth Matthews has led a full life – full of ups and downs, hope and despair, illness and recovery. When she was 35, Johnie suffered a cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure, only to be revived again. Then, diagnosed with small cell lung cancer at the age of 44 – the same age as her step-dad had been diagnosed with mesothelioma – Johnie made the astonishing decision not to treat it, only to recover fully and live for another several decades.
When one hears the word “mesothelioma,” everyone immediately thinks of the commercials on TV: “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure… “ and then they think everyone who gets this cancer is automatically wealthy because of a lawsuit. Well, I’m here to set that record straight.
Imagine you have the perfect life. You’re in prime physical condition at the peak of your career as a personal trainer. You have an amazing spouse and wonderful children and pets. You live in the Northern Beaches in Australia, an area known for its spectacular ocean views and proximity to the cultural center of Sydney. It’s your fiftieth birthday, and as a celebration of life, you’re giving back to the community by hosting a “Young at Heart” fitness class that will support victims of flooding in Queensland.
On Friday, June 3rd, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance will host its first National Cancer Survivors Day Tweet Chat. National Cancer Survivors Day (Sunday, June 5) is an annual celebration of life that centers around survivorship the first Sunday of June. According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, it is “a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community.”
As early as the 1890s, the link between asbestos inhalation and lung-related disease was established. What makes mesothelioma a particularly tragic disease is the fact that it’s preventable, because the cause is known. While oncologists and surgeons focus on how to treat mesothelioma, there are scientists who are primarily concerned with identifying the cause. Arthur Frank, MD, PhD, is one of those individuals.
Mesothelioma is often considered an old man’s disease. While it’s true that a higher percentage of older men develop this rare and deadly cancer than other groups of people, there are many ways in which children and teenagers can be exposed to asbestos and develop mesothelioma at a young age.
We are happy to announce that the fourth Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship will be awarded to Carol Mata, a biomedical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati.