New London, Connecticut - A former member of the U.S. Navy who also served as a long-time firefighter in the city of New London, Connecticut will be honored this weekend with a 5K run to promote awareness of the disease from which he died...mesothelioma cancer.
An article in The Day reports that Gary Batch, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2009 and died just 16 months later in January 2011, had spent his life working in occupations that exposed him to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma, which is often diagnosed in its late stages and carries and almost certain death sentence for the victim.
According to Batch’s family, he served 3 years aboard a submarine in the U.S. Navy, where he was most certainly exposed to the asbestos materials that were used aboard U.S. ships built prior to about 1980. He was also a pipefitter at Electric Boat Corporation, where he would have encountered asbestos insulation, asbestos-containing cement, and other similar materials. Finally, his subsequent career as a firefighter in New London could have put him face-to-face with dangerous asbestos as many American homes and commercial buildings still contain the hazardous mineral, which can become quite toxic when destroyed by fire.
Watching their husband and father suffer through the debilitating effects of the disease, the Batch family decided they needed to do something more to let people know just how devastating this rare cancer can be and how important it is to fund research that will help develop better mesothelioma treatments.
“It’s pretty much a death sentence,” explained Jason Batch, Gary’s son. “There is no cure. It takes about 30 or 40 years to become a cancer, so by the time you’re diagnosed, it’s not until stage three or four.”
“Pretty much right after he passed, my family started to become a little bit more involved in what mesothelioma is, because it’s so rare,” he added.
The Batch family reports that $7000 has been raised thus far on registrations for the race as well as additional donations. All money will be donated to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which helps to fund research and further education about the disease.