Asbestos lawyers help Jack Hansen to regain his independence after mesothelioma wracks his body
Alfred Hansen Jr. was the only child born to Amelia and Alfred Sr. on March 14th 1932 in New Haven, CT. Jack, as he was known to his friends and family, grew up in Hamden, CT where he went to Hamden High School and he worked part time during the summer guarding at Double Beach in Branford, CT.
From birth Jack is secondarily exposed to asbestos: Alfred Sr. unintentionally brought home asbestos dust every day
Alfred Sr. supported his family as an asbestos insulator. Though he was cautious, he unintentionally brought home asbestos dust every day from work, exposing young Jack to the hazards of asbestos since birth. When Jack was older he would spend time with his dad helping him work at the New Haven Railroad roundhouse and at the Electric Boat on the new construction of the Nautilus. Little did Jack know how hazardous his secondary asbestos exposure would be to his health.
But Alfred Sr. suspected the dust from the asbestos insulation were unsafe for his young son. When Jack entered into the trade himself, his father impressed upon him the dangers of the asbestos trade. He advised him always to work with asbestos in open areas, wash his clothes and take a shower before coming home. Jack followed his father's advice, but years of constant asbestos exposure could not prevent Jack from developing malignant mesothelioma cancer. Though Alfred Sr. was exposed to asbestos while an asbestos insulator, he lived a long life. However, he too did not escape cancer. At 90, Alfred Hansen Sr. died from prostate and colon cancer.
From Hamden, CT to the USS Heiliger: Jack joins the Navy
While still a teenager, Jack entered the navy reserves. After graduating high school in 1951, Jack started in the asbestos trade that summer as a junior tradesman. He acted as "a kind of a gofer" helping to cut and install pipes and boilers and to mix asbestos cement. In the fall, he began active service in the Navy at boot camp in Bainbridge, MD where he studied as a hospital corpsman. He later served aboard USS Heiliger and at the Naval Hospital in St. Albans, NY, performing minor surgery and acting as head nurse. He also served for a short time at the Naval Mine Depot in Yorktown, PA. During this time he took a 2 week cruise each year and attended a one month meeting at Fort Hale in New Haven. Before his honorable discharge from the navy in 1958, Jack was ranked as a Hospital Corpsman Third Class, one of the highest rankings for a hospital corpsman.
Jack was excited begin his new life after the Navy
After leaving the Navy, Jack was excited to begin his new life. He married his love, Joan Chaplin and together they raised three daughters, Wendy, Donna and Kristi. His oldest daughter, Kristi, was later diagnosed with autism. At the time little was known about what caused autism, but Joan and Jack were committed to raising their daughter as a normal child. Today, Kristi lives independently at a group home in Branford, CT not too far from her parents.
Jack's motto: "anything that the job requires" leads to a 35 years career as an asbestos insulator
Jack worked as an asbestos insulator for 35 years. Most of those years were spent working for Cummings. In the beginning he worked many jobs with his father who was in the trade until 1976. After his father retired, Jack continued to in the trade even becoming a member of his father's old union, Local #33. Jack worked on many jobs locations, but most often he worked for Cummings, Asbestos Distributor Warehouse, and Homestead Insulation. His last place as of employment was at Mill Stone Powerhouse as an insulator. Jack said that he breathed air containing asbestos dust particles from materials on his jobsites. Jack was also exposed to asbestos from other tradesman using asbestos products while on the job. In 1992, Jack retired from his trade.
While vacationing in Tennessee, a chronic hacking cough and chest pain prompts Jack to seek medical help!
Both of Jack's parents lived long lives. His father died at 90 and his mother died at 89. So a long healthy life seemed natural for Jack. However, this was not to be. In July 2002 while on a motor home trip to Nashville, TN, he noticed a hacking cough. On Monday September 16th, he went to the VA Hospital in West Haven, CT for dyspnea. Chest radiographs revealed large left pleural effusion and left pneumothorax in his left lung. Suspecting mesothelioma, his doctors performed a thoractomy causing his lung to collapse but they were still able to remove a substantial amount of fluid, approximately three quarts, from his left lung which was later tested positive for malignant cells. Doctors tried to inflate his lung but it was only partially successful. On October 4th 2002, further tests confirmed that Jack did in fact have malignant mesothelioma.
Prior to that, his only serious surgery had been a spur removal which was a one day procedure. Jack did not think that an unsuspecting cough and chest pain would lead to mesothelioma diagnosis and only 10 months to live. It was a devastating blow that was swift and unsuspecting.
His oldest daughter, Kristi, offered to give her father a lung transplant, which Joan said was incredible because she is afraid of doctors.
A man of courage: At 70 years old, Alfred Hansen battles malignant mesothelioma
When Joan and Jack met with Dr. Priya M. Rudolph at West Haven, CT VA Hospital, he explained to them several different treatment options available including the more traditional chemotherapy and radiation. Dr. Rudolph also informed them of a clinical trial conducted in Boston, VA testing Erlotinib. They also discussed Cisplatin treatment along with Pemetrexed that based on recent phase III trial showed that when both drugs were taken together, they had a 25-30% improvement of survival. Fortunately, Eli Lilly was willing to offer Jack Cisplatin and Pemetrexed on a compassionate basis.
Jack chose mesothelioma chemotherapy, however he was too sick to withstand his chemotherapy treatment so it had to be postponed until early December.
Jack loved to watercolor and kayak- now those days are gone
Jack was forging ahead with his life before his diagnosis. Determined to remain proficient and up-to-date with modern technology, he bought a laptop computer and taught himself how to use it. No doubt the computer provided him with an opportunity to connect, learn and develop his skills as an artist and outdoorsman. It offered him a sense of independence, which was lost when he became ill. Jack also owned a digital camera, which was just another extension of his artistic creativity and interest in technology.
Jack was a man of many talents. A lover of the outdoors, Jack would often fly fish while on vacation or during his spare time. He also shot trap at the Elm City Gun Club. He had a sailboat, Nonsuch 26 that he sold in the spring and replaced with a kayak and he regularly went kayaking on the scenic Branford River. In the winter when Jack could not go outside, he and Joan would usually take trips in their 29 motor home to enjoy the beautiful weather in Marathon Florida.
He also loved to paint. He was a talented watercolorist who belonged to two guilds in Florida and the Guilford and Old Lyme Art League, where he even exhibited some of his work.
"Mesothelioma has to be one of the worst diseases"
Since his diagnosis Jack's medical condition has spiraled. It has been extremely difficult for his wife, not only because of the mental anguish mesothelioma has caused her husband, but also the physical anguish it has caused her as well. In the 1980's Joan had back surgery to correct a recurring back ailment. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and Joan was left with continued pain and discomfort. As Jack's condition deteriorated, Joan had to exert more physical energy that re-aggravated her back. It pained Jack to see his wife performing these duties that he once did, but the mesothelioma left him incapable of performing even the simplest tasks.
Joan feels that mesothelioma has taken everything away from Jack. She wrote, "He lost control of his life- even of his body it was awful to watch", but with the help of mesothelioma lawyers, "Jack was determined to do as much as possible to help... punish those companies responsible for his illness and to insure my never having to worry about paying bills again."
Jack's progress has rapidly declined and despite his doctors best efforts the mesothelioma is taking over his body. Mrs. Hansen's is afraid that Jack will pass any day.
Afred Hansen died of malignant mesothelioma at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, CT surrounded by family on March 7th, 2003. He died seven days short of his 71st birthday.