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The Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation has partnered with another major university in its quest to support medical experts and researchers working to improve the quality of life for mesothelioma patients and their families.
The foundation will be awarding the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute $350,000 over three years. The funding will improve UPCI’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program and the UPMC Cancer Centers work specifically relating to the study of mesothelioma and treatment of this deadly disease. UPCI is the only NCI designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania.
“We are incredibly thankful for the generous gift from the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation to expand our program, which will positively impact the lives of so many people diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families,” said Dr. David Bartlett, chief of surgical oncology, in UPCI’s official release.Read the formal announcement here.
A nationally recognized medical clinic in the small town of Libby, Montana, recently received a nice reminder that they’re not the only ones who think the work they do for patients with asbestos-related diseases is important.
The Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation recently donated $10,000 to the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases.
The Center for Asbestos Related Diseases is one of a few medical facilities in the nation solely dedicated to treating people with diseases, like mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure. Most people would expect to find the treatment options CARD doctors provide in the bigger cities like New York or at a top university like the University of Pennsylvania. But in this case, the clinic went to the people. Literally.
The 10,000 people who live in Libby are 30 percent more likely to develop an asbestos-related disease, like mesothelioma or lung cancer, because a vermiculite mine operated from the 1960s to the early 1990s just outside of town. This form of vermiculite, a shiny rock similar to mica, contained amphibole asbestos. The mining process broke down the asbestos, creating a fine dust, which covered, not only miners, but the entire town. I have read news stories about how it would blanket the town. Miners would come home covered in it, children would play in it, and the wives would clean it, because, back then, no one really understood its dangers. Except the mining company.
W.R. Grace Co., who owned the mine, knowingly poisoned the entire town. Studies estimate that since 1960, 88 miners have died from asbestos-related diseases and that 1 in 40 of residents in Libby and the surrounding area have died or suffered from asbestos-related diseases. Because of this, the town was designated a National Public Health Emergency by the Environmental Protection Agency, the first ever such declaration made by the agency.
Asbestos exposure, even though it might have happened decades ago, is killing people now. No one understands this better than Libby, Montana and the doctors at CARD. The Simmons Law Firm is proud to know that it’s multi-million pledge to the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation is going to help the people who need it most, such as those treated at CARD.
The Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation didn’t mail a check, as this news article in the town’s newspaper, The Western News, reports. Foundation Chairman John Simmons hand-delivered it while he was on vacation.Comments (0)
On Sept. 10, all the major television networks and several other broadcasters will once again air the 3-hour marathon Stand Up 2 Cancer. When SU2C aired in 2008, the program helped raise more than $100 million for cancer research spearheaded by The American Association for Cancer Research. This year the program, interspersed with celebrity performances, will show viewers how five “Dream Teams” comprised of 13 scientists from across several disciplines are utilizing those dollars to extend cancer patients’ lives and to come closer to finding a cure.
The easy thing to do on this night would be to change the channel. I encourage you not to. Instead, I encourage you to listen because chances are you know someone whose life has been impacted by cancer. Chances are you’ve read news articles detailing how a person battled not only the physical, but the emotion and spiritual pain caused by a cancer diagnosis and won. Chances are you’ve told your kids not to smoke because you want to spare them that pain. Chances are you know where to find the next Relay for Life race in your community.
You know all of this. Everyone has heard of the super star cancers like breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, but what about those others with names so long you can’t remember how to pronounce? No one really knows about these orphan cancers like mesothelioma. Sometimes, not even your doctor.
Stand Up 2 Cancer provides an opportunity to have that conversation.
Every day I hear stories about people whose doctors didn’t know about mesothelioma. The diagnosis comes back and the patient’s doctor tells them to get their affairs in order because they only have six months to live.
If doctors don’t even know, how are you supposed to know that 3,000 new people are diagnosed with meso every year? How are you supposed to know that asbestos, which causes meso, is still legal in the United States? That the United States and Canada are the only two Western countries who have not taken significant efforts to ban asbestos? How are you supposed to know the research being done for other cancers helps meso and vice versa?
How are you supposed to know there’s hope for a cure and not just the superstar cancers like breast cancer, but for the orphan cancers like meso as well? Stand Up 2 Cancer, and other shows like it, is how you can know because it spotlights the work being done for all cancers so that someday there won’t be a need for us to know.Comments (0)
My heart is heavy. Last Wednesday my friend Craig Kozicki ended his 10-year battle against mesothelioma, leaving behind his dedicated wife and daughter, Shelly and Emily. Craig was a 10-year survivor of the disease -- a miracle story and symbol of hope among mesothelioma patients throughout the country. He was only 53.
Craig's case was one of the first mesothelioma cases I ever worked on as a young attorney just starting out here at the Simmons Law Firm. He was Jeff Cooper's client. It was through Jeff that I got to know Craig and his family. Over the years, the Kozickis have become much more than clients -- they have become part of the family here at the Simmons Law Firm.
When I think of Craig, I think of so many different things. I think about his love for sports and how much I always enjoyed our debates about the Illinois and Missouri college rivalries. His dedication to his wife and daughter. I think of the kind of man he was and the way he always fought and didn't complain. How he kept working as long as he could and kept living his life throughout the numerous chemotherapy treatments and painful surgeries.
In the search for a cure for mesothelioma and the fight to ban asbestos, Craig and Shelly are truly a special couple. They have been an inspiration to me, to everyone at the Simmons Law Firm, and to countless families across the country. Time and time again, we have clients tell us about the impact Craig and Shelly have had on their lives.
Earlier this week it was announced that the Kozickis received the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation's annual "Volunteer of the Year" award. It's a testament to both Craig and Shelly. Since Craig was diagnosed at age 42, Shelly has been standing by his side, and she's somehow always found time to help other people struggling with the cancer. She's been a sounding board and a voice for so many and has never asked for anything in return. Truly a remarkable lady.
I have to say -- I wasn't sure if I should write this at all. How do you adequately pay tribute to someone with so much dignity and strength? There are no words to describe how much his success in fighting off this horrible cancer for so long has meant to myself and so many others.
But then it hit me. What better way to honor and remember Craig than to try and encourage others to take up his cause? So that's what I'm doing. I'm encouraging anyone reading this to donate to the Meso Foundation in Craig's name. I think he'd like that.
Here's the link for contributing to the Meso Foundation's "Craig Kozicki Grant Fund" to find a cure for mesothelioma (make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page).
And if you don't want to give online, mail in a check to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, PO Box 91840 Santa Barbara, CA 93190-1840. Just make sure you write "Craig Kozicki" in the memo line.
Goodbye Craig. You will be missed dearly. It was an honor to represent you. But the greatest honor was getting to know you at all.Comments (0)
Maquoketa, Iowa, is a beautiful city located south of Dubuque along the Maquoketa River. The town has long been revered as “picturesque” with its array of historical sites, mysterious caves and unique land formations; quiet residential lifestyle and a downtown district with specialty shops, antique stores and restaurants still offering “old-fashioned” service, but there is one eyesore the town has been dealing with for a year, and it may be years before the town can afford to do anything about it.
One year ago a raging fire destroyed a half-block of Maquoketa’s business district “downtown” area. Although there were no injuries or deaths associated with the blaze, three historic buildings were destroyed. The pile of rubble from the fire remains even a year later. Federal and state officials decided that because the buildings dated before 1800, that asbestos was probably used in their construction. They also believe that the fire and water used to extinguish it likely caused the cancer-causing agent (asbestos) to be spread throughout the site.
Asbestos abatement and cleanup is costly. In this situation, regulations called for highly specialized handling of the materials, something insurance companies wouldn’t pay for. With no private or public money available, the city of Maquoketa has decided to seek federal and state assistance, but it could take many more months to learn if they will receive the funding.
There is no question that proper handling of asbestos cleanup is essential due to mesothelioma, a terminal lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, and other asbestos-related illnesses. But the cost of proper handling is too much for many cities and many private homeowners. KOAA news in Pueblo County, CO just announced that commissioners spent $6.6 million on cleanup efforts of an asbestos-containing building destroyed by fire in October of 2007. That is a lot of taxpayer dollars. In the end, the county plans to spend $40 million to redevelop the property.
This is money that Maquoketa residents and the town don’t have to spare. State and federal funding for asbestos cleanups is limited and large EPA action,s are usually awarded to huge environmental cleanup sites like you find in Libby and Bozeman Montana. It is easy to feel defeated when faced with proper asbestos removal, especially as a private homeowner who has to pay thousands for it, but it is important to the health and safety of everyone that proper asbestos removal be utilized.
Before you take asbestos removal into your own hands, which can and will be punished by law if caught, take the time to learn about the effects of asbestos exposure and realize the long-term effects it could have not only on you, but also on others who may be accidentally exposed. Visit the Mesothelioma Video Library to hear true accounts from victims of the cancer mesothelioma.Comments (0)
If you have the opportunity to visit the Simmons Law Firm Mesothelioma Video Library (MVL), you may find it helpful as you prepare for your initial consultation with a mesothelioma expert.
You know you have questions, but knowing how to ask them to get answers is important. Viewing these videos will help you better understand the medical terminology to communicate your concerns to the doctors. Also, knowing the correct pronunciation and description of a procedure will help you understand what the doctor is trying to tell you.
Of course, write down any and all questions and concerns. It might be a good idea to type up your list, so that anyone can read it should you or a family member become unable to do so. And remember to leave space to jot down the answer below each question. It can be confusing to review notes if you cannot associate the answer with the question.
Make arrangements to ensure that your medical records arrive at the doctor’s office, allowing ample time for review. The doctor may decide additional testing is necessary, which may require an overnight stay in the hospital or a few extra days for completion.
You want to be prepared, and this includes your travel and lodging arrangements. When you speak with the doctor’s staff, ask for recommendations. If the specialist is affiliated with a major medical center or university, ask if there are housing accommodations on the campus or discounts with local hotels or motels. Often an information packet is provided by the doctor or medical facility that includes this type of information.
If no such information is available, ask the hotel for any discounts available when staying for medical consultations. Don’t be embarrassed about asking. I know of a number of hotel chains that offer such assistance as well as some airlines. Your focus should be centered on your health and potential treatment. You should not have to have the added worry and stress of travel and lodging.
Sue Vento advises that you should carry a notebook or two when you meet with health care professionals. Many of our clients devise a plan that really proves to be easy for all involved to carry out. One woman explained her method:
"We started out with a small one-inch (1”) size 3-ring binder with colored tabs for each physician or health care facility. At the front of the binder we inserted a clear plastic business card holder where we stored all the doctors, hospitals, Medicare and insurance information. The use of a 3-ring binder provided a hard writing surface for taking notes.
Behind each colored tab we listed all the pertinent information relating to the doctor, including emergency contact numbers, office hours and appointment schedules.
My sister insisted on getting copies of all office-visit notes and medical and lab reports, which she then tabbed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent information was on top. At the end of each tabbed section was plain-ruled paper for her to take notes during each visit, which she then filed with the corresponding date of the visit or procedure.
Soon we learned that the small notebook was not large enough, so we eventually ended up using three colored notebooks. The RED notebook was for medical and radiation oncology, the BLUE notebook was for the hospital and the BLACK notebook was for her primary care doctor and home health care provider. This made it easy to grab the right binder for each scheduled appointment or hospital. The small was easier to carry to and from the appointments.
We had duplicates of all three notebooks. One set was kept in the house and the second “emergency set” was stored in the car. That way we always had all her medical information at our finger tips."
Yes, it does take time to organize the notebooks after each office visit or procedure, but being this organized helps provide better care for the patient.
In this exclusive series we examine the book 100 Questions and Answers About Mesothelioma by Harvey I. Pass, MD, Laura Roy, RN, and Susan Vento.
Edward C. Taylor, inventor of the anti-cancer drug Alimta has, with his wife Virginia, donated $1 million to establish an endowed fund for chemistry research at Hamilton College. Alimta has now been on the market for four-and-a-half years. It is approved in 92 countries, including the United States, for both first-line and second-line lung cancer, and is the only drug approved for the treatment of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Alimta is also in clinical trials for breast, head, neck and thyroid cancer.
The Taylor couple has established The Edward and Virginia Taylor Fund for Student/Faculty Research in Chemistry at Hamilton College. The $1 million fund was established to inspire students interested in chemical research and to facilitate their work. The fund will offer students the chance to pursue research in organic chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry and other divisions of chemical research beginning in the summer of 2009.
In the developmental and research stages of Alimta, Taylor’s Princeton lab did not have the facilities to turn the compound he synthesized into an effective medication. In 1985 a formal partnership between Princeton and Eli Lilly was established with the objective of exploring this new research and development in depth. Hundreds of new compounds were prepared and examined; finally, Taylor came up with a new compound that was extraordinarily promising. After 12 years of extensive efforts by Lilly, this compound became the new cancer drug, Alimta.
Beginning in 2009, Taylor’s gift will offer students at Hamilton the opportunity to follow a similar path of discovery and this donation offers the world new hope for future treatments of devastating illnesses.Comments (0)
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