Forrest’s Story

Forrest Wulf was born in Wood River, Illinois. He worked construction in the Riverbend area for 30 years, doing concrete work for 20 and spending the last 14 years working as a carpenter. Forrest met his wife Rebecca in 1983. They share a son, daughter, and five grandchildren.

When Forrest was in his mid-50s, he began having trouble breathing. He called his doctor, who sent him to the local hospital, where they discovered Forrest had two inches of fluid in his lungs, prompting a needle biopsy. Tragically, at the age of 56, Forrest was diagnosed with the rare and aggressive cancer known as pleural mesothelioma.

Forrest’s mesothelioma was the result of exposure to asbestos during the decades he spent in construction. While on the job, he was repeatedly exposed to asbestos-containing products such as cement and drywall compounds.

Although Forrest was forced to retire, he became determined to fight the disease for the sake of his family. He underwent countless rounds of chemotherapy and relentlessly fought mesothelioma for more than seven years — a true mesothelioma warrior.

Sadly, Forrest lost his battle with mesothelioma on June 23, 2015, at just 63 years old.

“What I’ve lost from mesothelioma, I can’t get back. I used to be able to run and play baseball with my grandson. Not anymore. Even breathing is hard some days.”

– Forrest Wulf, Mesothelioma Warrior and Simmons Hanly Conroy Client

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Robbed of His Livelihood

When Forrest’s shortness of breath brought him to the hospital, it wasn’t yet clear what was causing it. In its earliest stages, mesothelioma tends to be unrecognizable. General doctors can have trouble distinguishing mesothelioma symptoms from those of other illnesses.

In Forrest’s case, doctors first suspected lung cancer — specifically adenocarcinoma — because the symptoms mimic mesothelioma’s. A biopsy revealed the truth, and unfortunately for Forrest and his family, it was the worst-case scenario.

Depending on the stage, lung cancer can be treatable, while patients who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis typically are given about a year to live.

Forrest was only in his mid-fifties when found out that he had mesothelioma. The news was devastating for a host of reasons, one of which was that he would no longer be able to work and provide for his family.

Much to Forrest’s dismay, his wife Rebecca was forced to become the family breadwinner.

“She wanted to retire two years ago. She had worked herself to death trying to provide for me and my family,” Forrest said, describing his wife Rebecca.

Forrest’s ability to provide for his beloved family rested solely on his ability to work in the one profession he knew so well — the same profession that exposed him to the toxic material that would eventually lead to his death.

Finding the Strength to Keep Going

With his family’s finances hanging in the balance, Forrest began undergoing mesothelioma treatment while Rebecca continued to work.

Chemotherapy made Forrest feel terrible. While commiserating over his condition with a man he’d met at the doctor’s office, it became clear to the two men how devastating cancer is to patients and their families.

The man told Forrest about his plan to spend all of his remaining time with his family. His words made Forrest realize he wanted to do the same. He thought about how much he loved spending time with his then-7-year-old grandson, Gunnar.

Before his illness, Forrest had taken Gunnar to and from school every day. They’d watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” and play video games together. Gunnar was his pride and joy. There was nothing Forrest wouldn’t do for him.

Forrest also thought of his wife, Rebecca. He’d laugh as he recounted how the two of them met — she’d picked him up in a bar. They wound up being married for over 30 years.

It was Rebecca who scheduled the crucial doctor’s visit that revealed Forrest’s mesothelioma. It was also Rebecca who gave him the wake-up call he needed to continue to fight.

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In Forrest’s words, he was ready to give up. He had decided he couldn’t take the pain anymore. That’s when Rebecca came to his bedside.

“She said, ‘I’m going to say this once,’ and she got up and left after she said it,” Forrest described. “She said, ‘You’ve got me, you’ve got your daughter, your son and your grandson.’ And I got up out of bed. And I’ve been going since.”

Through Rebecca’s words, Forrest found the strength he needed to keep fighting. Over the next seven years, he would undergo more than 70 rounds of chemotherapy.

He also contacted a mesothelioma lawyer and filed a mesothelioma lawsuit to ensure his family’s future would be secure.

Fighting Back With a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Being forced to retire robs a person of their ability to make a living. Having no income is a devastating financial blow that very few Americans are prepared for, especially when they are still in their mid-fifties.

With the help of the experienced mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy, Forrest was able to recover the money he needed to live out the remainder of his life doing what he wanted to do most — spending time with his family.

In Forrest’s words, he and his family would have had nothing if not for his mesothelioma settlement.

“I wouldn’t have a thing if it wasn’t for my ability to hold the companies who harmed me accountable in court,” Forrest said.

The mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy are highly skilled at evaluating potential asbestos claims just like yours. If we determine you have a potential case, we will visit you at home to discuss the specifics.

During the visit, you will get to know your asbestos trial team in person, and they will explain the legal process to you. They will also review any documents you may need to sign. Immediately following your visit, your team will get to work.

Every trial team is led by skilled attorneys who have years of asbestos litigation experience. Your team may also include investigators, paralegals, medical experts and support staff.

Your trial team works tirelessly to build the backbone of your asbestos case. They will handle the heavy lifting so you can focus on your health and your loved ones.

According to Forrest, Simmons Hanly Conroy became like family to him. The feeling is mutual.

Advocating for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

Having taken care of his family through his mesothelioma settlement, Forrest began the selfless act of advocacy. He wanted to help other victims of the corporate cover-up that is so widespread in the asbestos industry.

Forrest’s advocacy work included speaking out against the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017.

The FACT Act was designed to change federal bankruptcy code, seeking to allow asbestos manufacturers to delay and deny legal claims filed by asbestos victims. Those who opposed the bill, including Forrest, believed it was yet another ploy by the asbestos industry to avoid paying their victims.

Due to the deadly exposure these companies allowed, mesothelioma victims do not have the luxury of time. By delaying claims, victims and their families would face huge medical bills and other expenses while having to jump through even more hoops of an already complex legal process.

Asbestos companies were essentially trying to drag the cases out to escape being accountable to the very people they harmed.

Forrest advocated against the FACT Act by sharing his story and writing letters to Congress. In one such letter, he wrote:

“The FACT Act, if passed, would be an invasion of my privacy. It’s no one’s business how much my settlements are. I don’t even tell my kids that information. It’s not my fault I got sick. All these companies are doing is killing people.”

Despite knowing what the asbestos companies were trying to do, what is remarkable about Forrest is he refused to give in to bitterness.

“I’m mad at the people that made it. You know, they knew it was killing people…but I can’t hate them for it,” said Forrest. “I don’t hate them. I just can’t.”

In the end, the valiant efforts of advocates like Forrest helped prevent the FACT Act from becoming law.

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Miles for Meso: Cheering for Mesothelioma Awareness

In 2009, Simmons Hanly Conroy began hosting a 5K road race called Miles for Meso. To date, the race’s participants have run or walked a total of 22,907 miles, raising over $800,000 for mesothelioma research.

Funds raised from Miles for Meso go to such organizations as:

  • Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (The Meso Foundation)
  • Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)
  • Penn Medicine’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Disease Program

When Forrest Wulf learned about Miles for Meso, he knew he wanted to lend a hand. The flagship race in Alton, Illinois takes place at Simmons Hanly Conroy’s headquarters. It serves as a place for the mesothelioma community to unite and support each other.

For years, Forrest served as a course marshal during the race. He would stand at the bottom of the last, steep hill, cheering runners on as they rounded the corner and began the grueling uphill climb to the finish line.

Forrest couldn’t run the race himself, so it was important for him to show how much he appreciated runners and walkers raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos.

In his memory, that last corner of the Alton Miles for Meso course has been renamed “Forrest’s Corner.”

Supporting Mesothelioma Warriors and Their Loved Ones

Forrest Wulf was the embodiment of what it means to be a mesothelioma warrior. Even though he wanted to give up, he thought of his family and decided to fight the disease with everything he had.

He also looked to the larger mesothelioma community to see how he could help. Forrest became a vocal advocate against manufacturers of asbestos products and — even though he knew corporate greed would cost him his life — he never held resentment in his heart.

Simmons Hanly Conroy’s thoughts and prayers are forever with Forrest and his family. People like Forrest make us passionate about what we do — dedicating our firm to families affected by asbestos-related diseases to ease their financial strain and allow them to spend as much time together as possible.

Contact us today to learn more about how Simmons Hanly Conroy may be able to help you and your family.