Kay Quinn, news anchor on KSDK News Channel 5, interviewed Julie Gundlach, a St. Louis native mesothelioma survivor, during the 5 o’clock newscast on Sept. 23.
What was most touching was when Julie talked about where she found the strength to make regular trips to New York for her surgeries.
“(Julie’s) motivation for packing for each trip – a chance at a future with her daughter,” Quinn told viewers. Julie explained she couldn’t imagine her 7-year-old daughter, Madeline, graduating from high school, let along being a year older, without her mom.
What parent can’t relate to that?
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Julie was diagnosed in her 30s, an unusual age as most victims who are normally diagnosed later in life. She was exposed to asbestos as a child through her father who worked as an industrial electrician.
She told Quinn how her dad, who died a year before she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006, would come home covered in asbestos dust after crawling through insulation. Her exposure happened when she’d give him a “welcome home” hug, she said.
After the segment finished, co-anchor Mike Bush expressed his surprise about how something so simple as hugging your child could make them seriously ill.
“Around here, you don’t even think about that kind of stuff, that your father was going through all these crawl spaces and up in the attic with all this asbestos and hugs his kids when he gets home and then the kids get sick,” he commented.
To which Quinn replied, “Or hugs his wife. And this is very well-documented, these so-called secondary or secondhand cases.”
She’s right. Take home exposure incidents that result in the person getting mesothelioma are becoming more prevalent. (See here and here.) But thanks to the hard work of advocates like Julie and the rest of the mesothelioma community, people are learning that asbestos is a current heath and safety issue that needs to be addressed.
Julie talked about the advocacy work she’s done to promote awareness about this “orphan cancer” and the need for a total ban on asbestos, telling Quinn, “It won’t be long.”
For anyone who’d like to get involved and help Julie with her fight against mesothelioma, they can run with her this Saturday in the Alton Miles for Meso 5K race, which is sponsored by the firm. For more information visit the Miles for Meso site at www.milesformeso.org.