On Friday, Sept. 26, National Mesothelioma Awareness Day will shed light around the nation on a dangerous form of cancer. Established in 2004, this awareness day, established and promoted by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation), has been the driving force behind the movement to bring attention and funding to mesothelioma research. In the past ten years, National Mesothelioma Awareness Day has raised nearly $1 million, received numerous local, state, and national government proclamations, and been the focus of dozens of media stories. Volunteers around the country unite to spread their message about mesothelioma through events and activities on this day every year. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘death’
Sunday, Sept. 7, is the fifth anniversary of Warren Zevon’s death. The Grammy award-winning composer and musican, who penned such popular tunes as “Werewolves of London,” passed away in 2003 from mesothelioma, at age 56.
The following videos are from Zevon’s last appearance on the David Letterman show in October 2002, where he was the only guest for the program, a tribute to his life and work. During the interview with Letterman, Zevon quipped that facing death had taught him to “enjoy every sandwich,” a reminder to savor each moment of life.
These videos provide a wonderful portrait of this talented musician. He is greatly missed.
Warren Zevon’s son, Jordan, also a talented musician, is an active advocate for mesothelioma and asbestos disease awareness, and spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
Earlier this summer I wrote about a blog on National Public Radio called My Cancer. Written by the former executive producer of ABC’s “Nightline” program, Leroy Sievers, the blog was accompanied by weekly podcast, and provided a frank and honest look at living with a cancer diagnosis. In 2001, Sievers was diagnosed with and successfully overcame colon cancer. Then, in 2005, cancer returned, affecting his brain and his lungs. Seivers passed away Friday, at age 53.
The My Cancer blog inspired thousands of cancer survivors from around the world and boasted upward of 30,000 comments. Sievers also appeared on ABC newsman Ted Koppel’s “Living with Cancer” television special, which was broadcast by The Discovery Channel in May 2007, as well as a special broadcast of NPR’s Talk of the Nation program that addressed the same “Living with Cancer” topic, which aired July 9, 2008, also hosted by Koppel and featuring cancer survivor Elizabeth Edwards.
“Leroy gave voice to a topic that we are very uncomfortable with — death and dying,” Ellen McDonnell, NPR’s morning programming director, said in a statement. “My Cancer had a face and a heart and a smile.”
Sievers is survived by his wife, Laurie Singer.
A memorial fund has been set up to honor Sievers memory and work. Donations can be made to the following address:
Leroy Sievers Memorial Fund
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Patient and Family Services
100 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Thirty-four years after its original recording, Candid Records has released a jazz CD to honor the memory of noted British journalist and musician Keith Shadwick, with all proceeds from the sale going to Bart’s Mesothelioma Research, a charity based in the UK dedicated to studying the asbestos related disease.
Shadwick, who passed away from mesothelioma on July 28, 2008, was a respected journalist and author whose background as a jazz and rock musician in the 1970s led to a career focus on music and musicians. His credits include books on noted jazz musician Bill Evans, as well as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. He also authored The Jazz & Blues Encyclopedia, the Guinness Guide to Classical Composers, and edited The Gramophone Good CD Guide. Additionally, he was a regular contributor to publications including Jazzwise magazine, The Independent and The Daily Mail.
According to an article published on All About Jazz.com, during his early 20s, Shadwick was a jazz and jazz/rock musician, playing saxophone, flute and piano. He was a founding member of the Sydney, Australia-based group, Sun, which released one self-titled album in 1972 before splitting up. In 1973 and 1974, the story reports, Shadwick and fellow Sun member, drummer Gary Norwell, recorded some jazz tracks with fellow musicians Justin McCoy and Robert Luckey when local Point Five Studio offered them use of its facility during a free downtime.
As a nod to their luck in securing the studio, the musicians named the album Free Time, but it was not completed or released. Shadwick held onto the tapes, and revived work on the recording in 1984, with guitarist Billy Jenkins, and again in 2005, with guitarist Mike Wollenberg.
All About Jazz notes that Shadwick was motivated to finish the album in 2005, when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and completed the project in 2007, although it is unlikely that he lived long enough to see its official pressing, which was delivered to his home right around the time of his death. The album was produced and released by Candid Records in the UK.
The Special Edition of the Free Time CD is available in limited release through the Candid Records web site, with all proceeds benefitting Bart’s Mesothelioma Research. Cost is £9.99 plus shipping, which totals around $24 U.S.
Today Alfacell, the manufacturer of ONCONASE, announced it will begin distribution of the mesothelioma drug in Israel. The company will partner with Megapharm, Ltd., a leading pharmaceutical company in Israel. ONCONASE recently completed an international confirmatory Phase IIIb clinical trial for unresectable malignant mesothelioma.
The news comes just a day after Haaretz.com, a leading news outlet in Israel, noted that asbestos-related cancer is 10 times more prevalent in Nahariya, a city of approximately 50,000 located in the North District of Israel on the Mediterranean sea, just south of the Lebanese border at Rosh HaNikra, than it is in the rest of the country. The report is based on data submitted by the chief doctor of the Health Ministry’s Acre District.
The medical report was presented to the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, which is currently calling for greater action from Nahariya’s government to address the problem. The story quotes Tamar Bar On, head of the Environment Ministry’s Asbestos Department, as saying that “between 70 to 150 thousand cubic meters of asbestos [can] be found scattered across the Western Galilee, mainly in private yards.”
Committee MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) has been selected by the committee to chair a panel dedicated to addressing the asbestos problem in Nahariya.
Alfacell will manufacture and supply ONCONASE to Megapharm, while Megapharm will be responsible for all activities and costs related to regulatory filings and commercial activities in a defined marketing territory, according to an Alfacell press release.
ONCONASE is a first-in-class therapeutic product candidate based on Alfacell’s proprietary ribonuclease (RNase) technology. A natural protein isolated from the leopard frog, ONCONASE has been shown in the laboratory and clinic to target cancer cells while sparing normal cells. ONCONASE triggers apoptosis, the natural death of cells, via multiple molecular mechanisms of action.
ONCONASE has been granted fast track status and orphan-drug designation for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma by the FDA. Additionally, ONCONASE has been granted orphan-drug designation in the European Union and Australia.
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.
Today, the U.S. Senate is considering landmark legislation that will create a multi-agency, comprehensive program to target lung cancer, and that will authorize $75 million for the first phase of a five-year program to reduce lung cancer mortality. the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2008 was co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Mesothelioma sufferers can benefit as a result of this increased focus on lung cancer research and early detection.
Senators Feinstein and Hagel were instrumental in authoring a policy resolution in 2007 to designate lung cancer as a public health priority, which was passed unanimously. The resolution called for research, better treatments, and early detection, with a goal of reducing lung cancer mortality by 50 percent by 2015.
This new bill would establish that comprehensive program under law and authorize funding, according to a release from the Lung Cancer Alliance, which today issued a call to action for its support.
“We have seen great advancements in prostate and breast cancer survival rates and we must commit ourselves to making the same progress with lung cancer,” Sen. Hagel said, noting that lung cancer currently accounts for 28 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.
Each year, lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, kidney, melanoma and liver cancer, combined.
Senator Feinstein said, “It’s time for the federal government to step up its efforts and make fighting lung cancer a national priority.”
Contact your Senator TODAY!
Earlier this month, about 33,000 medical professionals gathered for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The event is the world’s largest gathering of cancer specialists, and includes among its programs updates about various cancer treatments, as well as an opportunity for physicians to visit vendors from drug companies to learn about new products.
A special focus of this year’s conference was lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, and may also affect the abdomen or the pericardium (the sac around the heart).
There was a great deal of hope for a new drug, Erbitux, which doctors hoped would prove to have significant results in prolonging survival for lung cancer patients (it didn’t), as well as review of a currently popular lung cancer drug, Avastin, which in its Phase III trial was shown to help keep the disease from progressing.
But among the reports of facts and figures and products and treatments, was a report by Robert Bazell at MSNBC.com. Why, he wondered, are we not further along in the War on Cancer, which was declared as a national health priority in 1971, when President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act.
The Act, Bazell points out, created the National Cancer Institute as a separate entity from the National Institutes of Health, with a dedicated budget for curing cancer. The NCI started with $230 million per year, and now has a budget of $5 billion.
Certainly, progress has been made, and there have been steady declines in breast, colon and prostate cancers, most due to better methods for early detection, Bazell points out. But, overall, he says, the death toll from cancer has declined only 5 percent between 1950 and 2005. FIVE percent!
What are the challenges? Why are we not winning this war?
Certainly, the nature of cancer itself has something to do with it – there are more than 200 diseases that fit into the definition of “cancer,” uncontrolled cell growth, he points out. And, even though funding has increased, if you adjust that $5 billion budget for inflation, spending on cancer research has actually been falling in recent years, he says.
But I was intrigued by his most compelling argument, which seems so simple. He notes that “it would be very useful to have a discussion on how much we spend on BASIC RESEARCH and PREVENTION, compared to how much we spend on marginally useful treatments.”
Is it possible that we can no longer see the forest for the trees?
The Minnesota Department of Health reported this week that a 59th case of mesothelioma was identified in an Iron Range mine worker. This is the latest bad news in an ongoing examination of unusually high rates of mesothelioma among the miners. The state government recently approved $4.9 million to study the situation.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, the news of the latest mesothelioma diagnosis was discovered as the result of a comparison study done by the Minnesota Department of Health, comparing 72,000 Iron Range miners against the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System, which is the state’s cancer registry. The paper reports Health Department spokesperson Buddy Ferguson was unable to provide details about the 59th miner diagnosed, including whether or not this case of mesothelioma had resulted in an additional death.
A focus of the five-year study, which is under the direction of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, is to determine if there is a relationship between mesothelioma and the dust from taconite mining that is a central part of the Iron Range mine operation. Currently, mesothelioma is known only to be linked to asbestos. Because of the long latency period of the disease, usually between 20 and 50 years, it is uncertain whether the mesothelioma cases could be caused by previous asbestos exposure on the part of affected individuals, or taconite dust, or both.
Minnesota Public Radio reported in June 2007 that the Department of Health had conducted a study in 2003 when it found 17 cases of mesothelioma among Iron Range workers, and determined that 14 of the 17 cases had previous exposure to asbestos as well as taconite dust. Between 2003 and 2007, an additional 35 miners were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
According to WDIO-DT and WIRT-DT, ABC affiliates channels 10 and 13 serving the Northland area, approximately 1,200 current and former Iron Range miners will undergo random respiratory and health screenings, beginning next summer, as part of the study. The station reports that this summer researchers will begin analyzing old health studies, and doctors will examine current asbestos exposure controls.
The research study group has been named the Taconite Workers Lung Health Partnership. Read more about the project at its web site.
In its last legislative session, Minnesota approved $4.9 million for research into the mesothelioma epidemic among its Iron Range workers. To date, 58 people have died of mesothelioma. Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the bill, which funds a five-year study of the taconite mining industry and the mineral’s asbestos-like properties as a likely cause for the extremely high rate of mesothelioma among workers.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that researchers and politicians will meet today to discuss progress in establishing the study. According to the report, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health is assessing the health of active and retired miners, reviewing death certificates, and delving into the 58 deaths from mesothelioma. The Natural Resources Research Institute is analyzing iron ore samples and dust in the air in Iron Range communities, to see how closely they match asbestos dust, says MPR.
According to the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota web site, the industry’s six iron mining and processing operations produce two-thirds of the iron ore used to make steel in the United States. Combined, they represent a $4 billion capital investment and employ nearly 4,000 men and women. These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.
Taconite is an extremely hard rock that contains about 25 percent iron, according to an IMA fact sheet. It is found on the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota, which extends 110 miles in a southwesterly direction. After World War II, when natural high-quality iron ore deposits were beginning to be depleted, two companies began making major investments in taconite, and began producing pellets in 1956 and 1957, and a decade later taconite was in production in all of the area’s six mines.
To date, Minnesota mines have produced more than 1.2 billion tons of taconite pellets, IMA reports.
Information about taconite on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site says “taconite saved Minnesota’s iron ore mining industry.”
How heartbreaking that Minnesotans are only now finding out the cost.