November Advocate of the Month

I am so delighted to be recognized as a Mesothelioma Advocate of the Month. For 10+ years, I have had the absolute pleasure of working as legal counsel for hundreds of families affected by mesothelioma. During my tenure, my journey has taken me to nearly every state in the United States and has allowed me to work with those newly diagnosed, those commencing or continuing chemotherapy, post-operative patients, as well as families grieving the loss of a loved one.

Mesothelioma is not merely an advertisement on the television or a general listing in the telephone book. Mesothelioma is a cancer that knows no boundaries and devastates often unassuming families. Mesothelioma can fester unsuspectingly in the body for 20-50 years. Initial symptoms of mesothelioma often go unnoticed or defined as common ailments (cough, weight loss, persistent pain/discomfort). A diagnosis of mesothelioma often comes as a complete shock, causing a sense of hopelessness and desperation. However, with expert medical care and treatment, the prognosis for mesothelioma can exceed 1 to 2, and even 5+ years.

The face of mesothelioma is quite diverse; there is not a typical person with mesothelioma. I learned this fact very early on in my legal career. For instance, many years ago, I had the pleasure of cheering on the Notre Dame football team with Bob in South Bend, Indiana. Bob enjoyed a legacy of ND graduates in his family – him, his father and his sons all attended Notre Dame and were all football aficionados. Upon graduation from ND, Bob enlisted in the United States Navy. As a result of his years of faithful service to the United States, Bob was later diagnosed with mesothelioma. I represented Bob and his deserving family in a lawsuit against the United States Navy asbestos equipment companies.

Some years later, I found myself riding alongside Wayne on his tractor through his blueberry farm in upstate Michigan. Wayne was a third generation farmer, devotedly dedicated to his fields and crops. After decades of repairing his own tractors with asbestos brakes, Wayne later developed mesothelioma. I was most fortunate to represent Wayne in an asbestos lawsuit holding liable the various tractor and asbestos brake companies.

While at a casino in Las Vegas, I sat with Charlie, a career casino maintenance man who, at the age of 75, was raising his two young grandchildren due to an accident that killed his son and daughter-in-law. For several decades, Charlie used asbestos-containing construction materials and later developed mesothelioma. I worked tirelessly on Charlie’s case against the asbestos home construction companies (sheetrock, joint compound, tiles, etc.).

Bob, Wayne and Charlie are but a few of the many I have met diagnosed with mesothelioma. As an advocate for those suffering from mesothelioma, I realize the importance of providing timely and helpful information to those in need. These questions may be related to medical concerns -- What are the proper tests to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma? Where can someone get a second opinion? What types of treatments are available? To better address the more significant medical inquiries, I frequently attend seminars presented by medical experts from around the county where the newest treatments, current clinical trials, direction of mesothelioma medical research & testing, etc. are discussed. In addition, I closely monitor the treatment schedules of my own clients to continually educate myself about potential treatment side-effects, dietary restrictions and concerns, etc.

Questions may also relate to financial questions – What is the process to seek financial compensation? How long does the process take? What information is required to start the process? To answer these specific concerns, I suggest meeting with a family and outlining the compensation process, providing specific details regarding time requirements and amount of work necessary by families. This meeting reduces the overall amount of stress and anxiety over the legal process. It is also an opportunity for me to reinforce my commitment to helping a particular family through the medical & legal process and my desire to work tirelessly on their behalf to provide funds necessary for medical treatment, travel-related medical costs, living expenses, etc.

I have been working on behalf of those diagnosed with mesothelioma for 10+ years. While the individual faces and personalized life stories change continually, the determination to continue living does not. The families I work with are concerned with getting their loved ones the very best medical care and treatment. My clients diagnosed with mesothelioma are concerned about spouses, children, and other family members. As a mesothelioma advocate, I make certain that the legal process proceeds effortlessly, smoothly and expeditiously for my clients. It is my goal to get the much needed funds into my clients’ hands as quickly as possible.

The families I work with and for inspire me to work diligently on their behalf. Some families affected by mesothelioma are fortunate to have a great family support system, surrounded by a caring community of friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I personally aspire to be included as part of this support network from my clients.