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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Warren Zevon

Born in January 1947, rock singer Warren Zevon was best known for his sardonic wit and dark humored songs. This famously outlandish star died from mesothelioma, a lung cancer from asbestos exposure. Some of his best known songs include “Werewolves of London”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band.”

mesothelioma deathsSon of a Russian-Jewish gangster and a frail Mormon mother, Zevon’s love of music began with studying classical piano as a child. Although classical music served as a starting point, by the time Zevon was performing in Los Angeles, his music had taken on its characteristically eccentric twist.

His first album, released in 1969, went unnoticed. But, he is now heralded by legends such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen. His 1978 album “Excitable Boy” was his first big success and continues to be the best-selling album of his career.

Warren Zevon’s Battle with Mesothelioma

With the influences of Celtic, rock, and country music, Zevon’s career began and ended on David Letterman’s night time talk TV shows. He frequented the shows throughout his life and made one of his last public appearances on the Letterman Show, where he spoke candidly of his then-recent mesothelioma diagnosis.

“I keep asking myself how I suddenly was thrust into the position of travel agent for death,” he said, reflecting on his music, which so often dealt with death. “But then, of course, the whole point of why it’s so strange is that I had already assigned myself that role so many years of writing ago.”

He admitted on the Letterman Show that he had not been to a doctor in 20 years and only choose to go after chest pains that turned out to be symptoms of mesothelioma. At this point, the cancer was too advanced for anything but palliative treatment. Unfortunately, his trial with mesothelioma was often referred to as lung cancer and assumed to be a result of his life-long smoking habit.

Although this misinformation muddled reports of his mesothelioma death at the time, it is now clear that asbestos exposure was the true culprit. There is no consensus on how he was exposed to asbestos, but his song “The Factory” laments a worker’s life in a factory filled with asbestos.

He chose to focus his energy on producing one last album, entitled “The Wind”, which was released two weeks before his death. Despite the tragedy, he expressed that dealing with mesothelioma lent him new creativity. Indeed, his album “The Wind” won him a Grammy award and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Collectively, Zevon received five posthumous Grammy nominations. Having passed away in September 2003 at age 56, he is survived by his two children and two grandchildren. His son Jordan Zevon is both a musician and an advocate for asbestos awareness. Jordan recently performed at the Alton Miles for Meso 5K race, which raised over $27,000 for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, of which Jordan is the national spokesperson.

Learn more about famous mesothelioma deaths from our asbestos attorneys.

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Acting Surgeon General Speaks on Public Health Mission and Asbestos

At the 2014 ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference, keynote speaker Rear Admiral Boris D. Luchniak, MD, MPH delivered a speech on public health which included the topic of advocacy for asbestos exposure awareness. The acting surgeon general focused heavily on core public health functions, including the assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and populations at risk, and the formulation of public policies.

“We’re here to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the world when it comes to asbestos as a subset of all the world problems,” Luchniak said during the speech.

All of us, he pointed out, can play a role in the public health mission. Regardless of job title or location throughout the world, “it takes a village” to spread asbestos awareness.

Furthermore, optimism is essential in the area of public health. Advancements in public health do not happen overnight. Between 1900 and 1999, Luchniak explained, the United States achieved ten notable public health achievements, which included:

  • Vaccination
  • Motor vehicle safety
  • Safer workplaces
  • Control of infectious diseases
  • Decline in deaths from heart disease & stroke
  • Safer and healthier foods
  • Healthier mothers and babies
  • Family planning
  • Fluoridation of water
  • Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard

The above achievements took a great deal of time to accomplish. In the bigger picture, Luckniak says, we need to keep pushing forward in the fight against asbestos exposure in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not an achievement that can happen in a short period of time, which is why optimism is key. All activists, no matter what they do or where they come from, need to keep forging ahead.

Watch the full speech given by the acting Surgeon General at the 2014 ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference in the video below.

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The Corporate Manipulation of Asbestos Science

The corporate industry knew about the health concerns linked to asbestos exposure for many years before those health risks were made public. The same industry had a major influence on the science and politics of asbestos exposure, according to Dr. David Egilman of Brown University. Egilman recently gave a presentation on the topic related to his article “Dust diseases and the legacy of corporate manipulation of science and law” at the ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference in Washington, D.C. (pictured.)

Corporate manipulation of asbestos science.Published in the April-June 2014 issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Egilman’s article takes a closer look at previously secret corporate documents, depositions, trial testimonies and published literature to understand the historical manipulation of asbestos science.

Prior to publicizing the safety and health concerns of asbestos, many corporate executives were aware of the associated health risks. However, it became evident that asbestos manufacturers and organizations delayed the reduction of asbestos use and exposure in their businesses by covering up the link between asbestos exposure and serious diseases like mesothelioma.

“Companies that used and produced asbestos have continued and intensified their efforts to alter the asbestos-cancer literature and utilize dust-exposure standards to avoid liability and regulation,” Egilman states in the article.

The corporations’ excuse was that hesitancy persisted because of an ongoing debate over the dangers of asbestos. The companies wanted the public to believe the link between asbestos and cancer was not legitimate. In doing so, the corporations directly and deliberately manipulated the scientific literature.

Unfortunately, this manipulation may still exist today.

“There is evidence that industry manipulation of scientific literature remains a continuing problem today,” Egilman said. “[This results] in inadequate regulation and compensation and [perpetuates] otherwise preventable worker and consumer injuries and deaths.”

One example of this manipulation still taking place today is the presentation of certain documents in court to “cast doubt” on whether or not the asbestos-cancer relationship is legitimate. Corporations may use documents that cite corrupted information (such as the Braun-Truan paper) to question the acceptance of the asbestos-cancer relationship.

Learn more about asbestos exposure and the corporate cover-up now.

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Asbestos and Mesothelioma News Wrap Up: May 2014

The Firm mesothelioma lawyers are dedicated to ensuring you have the latest asbestos and mesothelioma news to keep you up to date. Below is a short list of some of the most recent news stories covering asbestos exposure, mesothelioma research and other news from across the globe.

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Faces of Mesothelioma: Ernie Conry’s Story

“If you walk up and down the street and you’re still smiling, you’re not dead. Don’t let the cancer bog you down.”

faces of mesothelioma and asbestos exposureAfter experiencing symptoms for nearly eight years, Ernie Conry was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2002. With a consistently positive mindset, Ernie fought the disease for many years. This is his story.

Exposure to Asbestos

Ernie was exposed to asbestos throughout his life. Most of his exposure occurred when he worked as an auto mechanic, an occupation with a high risk of asbestos exposure due to the asbestos used in brake pads.

Ernie first began experiencing problems as early as 1996, which included pain in his shoulder and ribcage. In 2002 doctors performed multiple tests, including X-rays, CAT scans and biopsies, before finally diagnosing Ernie with pleural mesothelioma.

“I had been visiting with a brother of mine who also had mesothelioma,” Ernie said in video interview. “I found out a month after visiting him…I had the same cancer.”

Ernie’s brother developed the same disease after being exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy. Navy veterans are also among a high-risk group of individuals because of the asbestos used in ships.

Ernie’s Mesothelioma Battle

After his diagnosis, Ernie’s doctors implemented a treatment plan that included chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. He battled the disease from 2002 to 2009, during which he maintained a positive attitude that served as an inspiration for others.

Sadly, Ernie passed away in 2009.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Ernie seriously considered filing a lawsuit after he learned his disease was caused by exposure to asbestos. He decided to file a lawsuit against the asbestos companies that were responsible for his exposure and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis.

Watch the video below to hear more about Ernie Conry’s decision to file a lawsuit, or read more about Ernie’s story here.

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