Medical professionals, chemists and biomedical engineers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School have reported successful testing of special expanding nanoparticles that delivered high doses of the drug paclitaxel into mice with mesothelioma cancer, according to Surviving Mesothelioma. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Boston’
Those of you who have been following the myMeso blog for a while remember our friend Heather Von St. James, a meso survivor and warrior from Minnesota. Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma just a few months after giving birth to her daughter Lily, at the young age of 36. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, which is related ot asbestos exposure, and traditionally patients are given a matter of months to live following a diagnosis. This was unacceptable to Heather and her husband, Cameron, were determined to find an answer, and to fight. (more…)
An interview published Sunday, April 5, by the Boston Globe featured an interview with popular country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus, and his daughter Miley Cyrus, who is probably more famous now than her father was in his heyday. Billy Ray is known to a generation of 1980s country music fans for his hit single “Achy Breaky Heart” but is probably better known among a younger generation of teens and ‘tweens simply as the father of their idol, Disney superstar Miley Cyrus, of the network’s “Hannah Montana” series.
Discussing the atmosphere of celebrity in which Miley grew up, as the daughter of a performer, the interview veers off to mention Billy Ray’s roots as the son of a steelworker father, Ron Cyrus, who went on to serve 21 years in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Almost offhandedly, the story mentions that Ron Cyrus passed away of mesothelioma, which he almost certainly contracted through his exposure to asbestos in the mills.
Perhaps the paper felt this tidbit was relevant to its Boston audience because the elder Mr. Cyrus visited Boston for treatment of his mesothelioma, and son Billy Ray wrote a colorful country tune, “I Want My Mullet Back,” in honor of a former Red Sox baseball player. In his day, Billy Ray was famous for his own long mullet haircut, a style cropped short on top and sides but long in the back (“business in the front, party in the back”).
The mention of mesothelioma seems random, but there’s more to the story.
Ron Cyrus passed away on February 28, 2006. He had served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for Kentucky’s 98th Legislative District, beginning in 1975, and was elected to 11 consecutive terms before retiring in 1996. He was 70 years old when he passed away, and old reports from that time list his cause of death simply as “lung cancer.”
In March 2006, at the end of its regular session, both houses of the Kentucky State Legislature observed a moment of silence in honor of Ron Cyrus’s passing.
But now, in its 2009 session, the Kentucky legislature is once again recognizing the issue of mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, and, along with it, Ron Cyrus.
First, on Feb. 6, Representative Ancel Smith and Rep. Sannie Overly introduced HR95, a resolution to recognize September 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, as designated by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) and supported by U.S. Congressional resolution.
HR95 was established in Kentucky to honor “those who have fallen victim to this disease in the Commonwealth” and names “former legislator Ron Cyrus; Todd Hall, a bright, young University of Kentucky graduate who had started a successful business; [and] Allen Conley, a naval architect and marine engineer exposed to asbestos in the Yorktown, Virginia Naval shipbuilding yards…”
The resolution was adopted in the House by voice vote on Feb. 9.
Then, on Feb. 23, HB519 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives, sponsored by Representatives Ancel Smith, Keith Hall, Tom Burch, Leslie Combs, Ted Edmonds, Jeff Greer and Brent Housman. The Act would designate Sept. 26 of each year as Mesothelioma Awareness Day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and would be known as “The Ron Cyrus and Todd Hall Mesothelioma Awareness Act of 2009.”
The bill passed the house by a vote of 97-0 on March 10, with 3 not voting.
The bill was introduced in the Senate designated as SB58, sponsored by Johnny Ray Turner, where it passed unanimously by a vote of 36-0 on March 3.
As he lay dying of mesothelioma in a Miami area intensive care unit, successful attorney, Democratic Party activist and philanthropist Milton M. Ferrell, Jr., recorded a video deposition against asbestos manufacturers, according to a report in the Miami Herald. Ferrell passed away just a little over 15 hours later, on Saturday, Nov. 15.
Recorded with literally his last breaths, the video deposition names the Big Three automakers, along with specific brake manufacturers, accusing them of marketing “unreasonably dangerous” products and failing to warn people about the asbestos danger inherent in the products, the Herald reports. According to the paper, Ferrell worked on automobiles as a young man, and it is suspected he inhaled asbestos fibers while working on brakes.
Ferrell, who was listed among the country’s top 100 attorneys in 2006, began suffering what his wife described as “flu-like symptoms” about two years ago, the Herald reports. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in Spring 2008 and had his left lung removed in May. But the cancer spread to his brain, stomach, hip and his right lung. He rejected pain medication on his deathbed in order to record his deposition, according to the Herald.
Among his achievements, he founded his own firm, Ferrell Law, with offices in Miami and New York. Active in Democratic politics, he was a major fundraiser for President Bill Clinton and served as John Kerry’s Florida finance chairman in 2004 during Kerry’s bid for the White House.
Funeral services are set for Friday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami. The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Ferrell is survived by his wife Lori, son Morgan and daughter Whitney.
I was very sad today to learn that Rear Admiral Phil Coady, U.S. Navy (Ret.) passed away yesterday, June 30. Admiral Coady served as Chairman of the Board for the Lung Cancer Alliance, and was kind enough to share his story with this blog in April. A non-smoker, Coady was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2005. The diagnosis spurred him to advocacy, particularly on behalf of Veterans.
Although Coady didn’t suffer from mesothelioma, he was very much aware of the risks posed by asbestos. His work during his time in the Navy very often put him in contact with the substance, he said, and seven of his friends died from mesothelioma since his retirement. In addition, for 10 years following his retirement, Coady worked as president of the Navy Mutual Aid Association, a non-profit veterans benefit group and life insurance service, where he said he saw what he thought was a disproportionate amount of lung cancer deaths.
When he began investigating lung cancer research efforts, Adm. Coady was shocked at the relatively few dollars spent by the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense, considering the number of veterans affected by the disease. He also was disappointed at the overall lack of funding for lung cancer research in comparison to spending on other cancers, especially since lung cancer is the leading cancer killer.
He dedicated himself as Chairman of the Board for the Lung Cancer Alliance, fighting the battle for lung cancer awareness and funding under the organization’s motto “No More Excuses. No More Lung Cancer.” He led efforts in lobbying Congress to make lung cancer a national health priority.
Just last week, Coady saw some of the first fruits of his efforts, when Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate creating and authorizing at least $75 million for lung cancer research. This is the first ever multi-agency, comprehensive program targeted at reducing lung cancer mortality.
Perhaps the best memoriam Adm. Coady could receive is for supporters of lung cancer awareness and research to contact their U.S. Senators NOW and ask them to add their support to S. 3187, the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act. Remember him and take action for those to come after him! You can view his obituary here.
Blessings to Adm. Coady’s family at this time of loss.
When Charlene Kaforey, 48, was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in July 2007, she immediately began seeking out information and treatment options.
The prognosis for mesothelioma is still bleak. There is no cure, and most studies estimate survival time between 4-12 months, depending on the stage of presentation. Charlene’s mesothelioma was diagnosed relatively early, so she was hopeful.
She visited mesothelioma specialist Dr. David J. Sugarbaker at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., Dr. Valerie W. Rusch at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Dr. Harvey Pass at the NYU Cancer Institute.
Immediately, doctors talked about extrapleural pneumonectomy, a surgery to remove the entire lung, entire diaphragm, and the lining of the chest cavity and the heart. Surgery would be followed by 6 weeks of radiation, and possibly chemotherapy. One doctor even talked about performing a heated chemotherapy wash of the chest cavity while on the operating table. At that time, they believed Charlene was a stage I, and such surgeries could give her a 40 percent chance of a 5 year survival. One doctor mentioned getting her as much as 10 years.
One of the doctors talked about limiting the surgery to a pleurectomy/decortication, a technique to remove the parietal pleura from the lung. The median survival after pleurectomy for malignant mesothelioma ranges from 6-21 months, and 9-40 percent of patients survive up to 2 years. However in later stages, the survival rates are almost identical between the two surgeries.
Research is still unclear as to whether extra-pleural pneumonectomy provides significantly greater benefits than pleurectomy, and if either is significantly more effective than non-surgical options.
Charlene didn’t have a lot of tumor bulk, so she was sent for a mediastinoscopy, a biopsy surgery that allows doctors to view the middle of the chest cavity and to remove lymph nodes from between the lungs to test them for cancer or infection. They found that Charlene did have lymph node involvement.
“I went from a Stage I to Stage III overnight,” she says. “It was shocking.”
Because of the lymph node involvement, doctors recommended she postpone considering pleurectomy or pneumonectomy and undergo chemotherapy. Survival rates from either surgery for a Stage III patient is much less, and only 25 percent survive 20 months, with less than 10 percent surviving 5 years. Both surgeries involve significant mortality rates and require 6-9 months recovery time.
“Looking at it now, I feel in some ways that having the lymph node involvement was a godsend for me,” Charlene says. “I mean, my condition was more serious, but because I was doing the chemotherapy, it gave me time to look for more information and to really think more about my options. Otherwise, I would have rushed into a very serious surgery with a long, difficult recovery and I’d probably be without a lung and diaphragm right now.”
Charlene offers one word of caution to meso patients.
“While you may feel time is of the essence, don’t rush into a procedure until you really understand what is involved, and what benefits you can expect to receive, what the risks and complications are, how long and difficult the recovery will be,”she said.
She talked to other meso patients and read everything she could get her hands on. Quality of remaining life is a big issue to consider.
“I realized that I might have only 18 to 30 months maximum to live, and that I would spend at least 9 months in a brutal recovery. I was feeling good with little to no symptoms. I couldn’t justify giving up my good health to surgery, knowing I may never feel good again, and might have only another 9 months of poor quality life after recovering from the surgery,” Charlene says.
Next: Charlene explores alternative medicine