I was very sad to report earlier this month that our beloved meso warrior, Debbie Brewer, passed away after battling six years against mesothelioma. Her funeral is set for Thursday, June 20, a 1 p.m. at Weston Mill Crematorium, Plymouth, U.K. Debbie’s family says all whose lives she touched are welcome to attend the service. Well-wishers are asked – per Debbie’s request – not to wear black to the services. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Debbie Brewer’
I am so sad today to learn that Meso Warrior Debbie Brewer, our friend in the U.K., has passed away. Debbie was a truly wonderful person with the biggest heart. She fought every day not just for herself, but for everyone with mesothelioma, everyone affected by asbestos disease. I will miss her so much.
That may seem strange to some, since I never had the chance to meet Debbie face to face, but I felt as if she was a friend. Debbie was the first person to allow us to share her story here on myMeso. She wrote her own blog, Mesothelioma & Me, talking not only about her fight for meso awareness and her physical battles with the disease, but sharing funny, sad, sometimes angry, and everyday stories about her life. She was an open book and welcomed friends with open arms.
Occasionally I had people email me who had read Debbie’s story here, and wondered if she might be willing for them to contact her to talk. Debbie was always willing.
Debbie traveled to the U.S. and worked with the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation), connecting with more people and spreading the message about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the desperate need for a cure.
She traveled to Germany to undergo a new experimental treatment, for a time taming the tumor she – with her trademark sense of humor – nicknamed Theo. Damn Theo. She spoke to members of Parliament, petitioning for relief for asbestos victims. She worked with the Mick Knighton Foundation, helping to raise funds for mesothelioma research and treatment.
I was happy that Debbie accepted my friend request on Facebook. She was a prolific poster, sharing stories and photos of her travels, her beautiful family and children, her shenanigans with friends, her wigs and hats, a new car. All the ups and downs were there. Oh, how I will miss seeing her signature “xx”.
Debbie, I know this post is rambling. Your passing seems so sudden, and the world is a much sadder place without you in it. I hope you are running and laughing and strong now. I know you are bringing joy with your tremendous spirit.
Exciting news!! Mesothelioma Warrior Debbie Brewer, our friend from the U.K., will speak to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in July! Debbie will address Members of Parliament, sharing her personal battle with mesothelioma and raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. (more…)
One of our favorite Meso Warriors, Debbie Brewer, was disappointed this week to learn that her mesothelioma had progressed. Many of you have been following Debbie’s story through the past several years, since she originally shared it with us. Debbie has become a leader in the fight for mesothelioma awareness, and is an outspoken advocate both in her home in the U.K. and worldwide. (more…)
One of the many mesothelioma community members on Facebook posted a question today about a clinical trial being conducted at the Mesothelioma Center, located at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. MyMeso discussed this clinical trial in a July post. The clinical trial is a program of targeted radiation and chemotherapy protocol for pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lung’s lining almost always caused by asbestos. In response to the Facebook thread, meso survivor and awareness advocate (read: warrior) Debbie Brewer, who many of you know from her story and updates here (thanks Debbie!), mentioned a similar study currently ongoing in Australia.
Debbie provided a link to a story published in November 2009 by ABC News that outlines the work of specialists at Austin Health Centre in Victoria. The treatment, spearheaded by Dr. Malcolm Feigen, a radiation oncologist at the Centre, uses high doses of radiotherapy, concentrated on specific areas of the lining of the lungs to target mesothelioma tumors.
According to the ABC report, 13 patients participated in a pilot program to test this new targeted radiotherapy treatment. Most had some surgery prior to the radiotherapy treatment, and some also had chemotherapy before or after the treatment, although Dr. Feigen believes the patients showed the most benefit primarily as a result of the radiotherapy regimen.
Participants in the U.S. clinical trial at the Mesothelioma Center receive a multi-modality therapy that incorporates surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy in combination.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Feigen about the Australian research, which was broadcast on ABC’s AM morning current affairs program.
If you are a fan of the social networking site Facebook, I hope that you are linked into the many mesothelioma survivors, supporters, groups and victims that are posting regularly there. If you don’t already have a Facebook page, setting one up is easy. Just go to www.facebook.com and the easy instructions on the home page will walk you through the steps. There are lots of new and improved privacy controls that you can set so that you don’t have to share more information than you want to. The nice thing about Facebook is that you accept and approve “friends” who can see your information.
Our good friend Debbie Brewer in the UK is online on Facebook. Just search for her name and you’ll come to her profile. She recently has started a Facebook fan page for Dr. Thomas Vogl, the groundbreaking researcher who is pioneering chemoembolization as a treatment for mesothelioma. Those familiar with Debbie’s story know that she has had great success with chemoembolization under Dr. Vogl’s care. You can visit his page here: http://tinyurl.com/yeq5969
There also is a group set up to honor Debbie herself! You can find it by clicking this link: http://tinyurl.com/ychey9g
There is a special event planned for this Friday, Jan. 15, to celebrate Debbie, as well. “Raise a Glass to Debbie” asks everyone to raise a toast in honor of Debbie’s work as an activist for mesothelioma awareness and the fight for a cure. The event will occur between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and it doesn’t matter where in the world you are – the UK, the U.S., Australia, or any point on the globe – just join in!
There are so many wonderful support groups on Facebook. Two of these that my regular readers know I talk about a lot are the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) (find them here: http://tinyurl.com/ybhmn9j) and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (http://tinyurl.com/ybv2uut).
It has been a difficult year for many in the mesothelioma family. Many have lost loved ones, or are facing a scary diagnosis. But 2009 also held a lot of good news. To illustrate that, I’d like to share a news article about our great friend in the UK, Debbie Brewer. Just after Christmas, Debbie was featured on the front page of The Herald, a newspaper that covers the Plymouth area. The paper describes Plymouth as a “hotspot for asbestos-related deaths.”
In the feature, Debbie talks about how she moved from what was presented to her as a death sentence to her new outlook of happiness, hope and survival. Debbie was diagnosed in November 2006, at which time she thought she might be seeing her last Christmas. Doctors estimated she had only six to nine months to live.
As most of you know, Debbie refused to accept the prognosis that she had only months to live, instead actively seeking alternative medical treatments that might take a fresh look at her cancer and provide her with new options. Primarily, she found Prof. Thomas Vogl at the University Clinic in Frankfurt, Germany, who administers a therapy called chemoembolization. In this therapy, chemotherapy drugs are introduced directly to the tumor area through a catheter into the lung.
Because the treatment is still in clinical trial stages, Debbie had to travel to Germany for each treatment, not available in the UK, and paid for travel expenses and medical care from her own pocket. However, results were amazing, and Debbie’s tumor shrunk by more than 80 percent, putting her in full remission.
Despite a recent setback, when a September check-up showed cancer in her lymph node had increased in size (the tumor in her lung remains stable), she is optimistic. She lobbies energetically for mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, and also to bring chemoembolization to the UK so that more people might try this new therapy that has shown so much success in her case.
The paper quotes Debbie as saying, “Christmas is the time of year I celebrate being here. ”
We love you, Debbie, and we are SO glad to celebrate another Christmas with you, and we look forward to spending 2010 with you!
Everyone following Debbie Brewer‘s story on this site knows that last December it was determined she was in remission from mesothelioma – a miracle! – following successful chemoembolization treatment in Germany. Then, in September, she received a worrying report that appeared to show growth in a lymph node in her chest, which showed up on a CT scan. Subsequent tests revealed that there was growth, which would require treatment.
This week, Debbie started radiotherapy on the lymph node. She tells me that the radiotherapy treatment is a 3-week course, Monday to Friday, and depending on how the lymph node responds could go to 5 or 6 weeks.
Doctors also did a biopsy on her right groin area, which was the site where Dr. Vogl introduced the chemoembolization procedure. There is some question about whether the mesothelioma could have seeded at the induction site. Debbie says Dr. Vogl – who is pioneering the chemoembolization treatment at the University in Frankfurt – is hopeful and optimistic that this is not the case. However, the treatment is still experimental, so it is hard to know what to expect, she says. The chemoembolization treatment was done six times, each time in the same area.
The biopsy was done on Tuesday, with doctors taking two samples. Debbie is now waiting on the results.
She is in good spirits and keeping a positive outlook, so I’m sure she’d appreciate the continued well wishes and encouragment. She promises to let us know when she receives the results. You can also read more about Debbie’s story, and the other goings-on in her life, at her own blog, Mesothelioma & Me.
A video that demonstrates the effects of asbestos in the lungs was recently brought to my attention by two sources. Our friend Debbie Brewer posted it to her Facebook, and then Linda Reinstein from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization sent me a link, which I’m planning to post on my Twitter feed. This is one of the best dramatizations I’ve seen yet about how asbestos fibers enter the lungs, and how they can cause such conditions as asbestosis, pleural plaques, and mesothelioma.
If you have a Twitter account and would like to share this video, please re-Tweet @ Linda_ADAO Excellent 90 second video on asbestos fiber inhalation produced by ANROAV, AMRC and A-BAN http://tinyurl.com/yhqsdzd
Our good friend Debbie Brewer, in the UK, (pictured with sons Rich and Kieran) who has been in remission from her mesothelioma since December 2008, had a worrying report from her latest medical checkup. She visited her oncologist in the UK on Sept. 16, and they have detected some increase in size in her lymph node as the result of a CT scan of her chest, abdomen and pelvis.
“My oncologist is putting me in the Meso box again, and I am not going there,” she told me in an email this morning.
She’s posted the medical records on her blog, Mesothelioma & Me, so please visit her site to check out the full report. According to the findings section, the scan detected “a new 5mm nodule and several smaller new nodules withing the lower left lobe.” However, the scan does not show any growth or changes in the existing areas where they knew there was tumor previously.
It’s been a rough several weeks for Debbie, as she only recently was released from the hospital after suffering a bad case of swine flu and pneumonia! In her blog, she says she is hopeful the increased lymph node could be related to the infection and pneumonia from her illness rather than cancer cells.
Debbie experienced wonderful success in the treatment of her mesothelioma under the care of Dr. Thomas J. Vogl, who she began seeing in May 2008 for an experimental new treatment, chemoembolization. Under his care, her tumor (which she calls Theo) shrunk an amazing 83 percent. Debbie must travel to Germany to participate in the clinical trial at J.W. Goethe University Hospital at Frankfurt University.
Debbie said she has contacted Dr. Vogl about her latest test results, and will consult with him about treatment following a P.E.T. scan.
We know that Debbie is an ultimate fighter and wonderful advocate for mesothelioma awareness and for justice for victims of asbestos disease. Please send her some well wishes! You can contact her through her blog or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know she’d love to hear from you!
I will keep you posted!