Posts Tagged ‘International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma’

International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma will travel to three U.S. cities

26 Apr 2016 by under Events

marf logo 300x70 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma will travel to three U.S. citiesIt should come as no surprise that the diagnosis of a disease like mesothelioma can feel isolating. Whether you’re a sufferer, a family member, or a caregiver, mesothelioma takes its toll on your life and livelihood. That’s why the Mesothelioma Applied Foundation (Meso Foundation) will be hosting its International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in three major cities – Houston (May 20), San Francisco (Sept. 16) and Chicago (Oct. 7) – in hopes of making an event more easily accessible and affordable to those who most need help, support and educational resources. (more…)


Registration now open for Meso Symposium

11 Mar 2010 by under Events, News, Organizations

MARF logo square Registration now open for Meso SymposiumThe Mesothelioma Applied Foundation (Meso Foundation) announced registration is now open for the 2010 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma. The event is set for June 10-12 in Washington, D.C. The annual event includes science presentations from leading mesothelioma experts, breakout sessions for patients, families/caregivers and bereaved, and many community and social activities.

A special part of the Symposium activities is Advocacy Day, during which meso patients and their families travel to Capitol Hill to meet with their Senators and Representatives to ask for increased funding for mesothelioma research and treatment, and for the complete ban of asbestos in the United States.

I had the pleasure of attending this event last year and it is truly an amazing experience. There are touching tributes to those who have lost the fight against mesothelioma, and inspiring stories from those who are winning this battle. You can also gain so much knowledge from the many physicians and researchers who present programs. Many of them are open and available to talk with attendees throughout the conference as well.

You can find more information, including a video and archives of last year’s Symposium presentations, at www.curemeso.org/symposium. You can also view the agenda and register at the web site.  Or, call the Meso Foundation toll free at 877-363-6376.


Awareness, educational materials available from Meso Foundation

1 Dec 2009 by under News, Organizations

MARF logo square Awareness, educational materials available from Meso FoundationThere are tons of new educational, outreach and awareness materials now available from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. If you do not already subscribe, the latest issue of the Foundation’s “Breath of is available. The latest issue provides a recap of activities during the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which was held in Washington, D.C., in June. The newsletter includes photos from the event and a wealth of information about research and advocacy, as well as personal stories from mesothelioma patients and their families and caregivers.

This issue is available to download online. If you are having trouble downloading the newsletter, or just want an original hard copy, please let me know. I have some extra copies of the newsletter graciously provided to me by the Meso Foundation that I would be happy to send to you. You can also subscribe by visiting the Meso Foundation online at www.curemeso.org. There also is an archive of past newsletters on the site.

Another exciting resource available at the Meso Foundation web site is a video library of presentations from the Symposium. There were so many great speakers, and this is a truly valuable resource for excellent educational information. The video library also provides access to the slides used by conference speakers. There really is a fantastic amount of information here on topics ranging from Advocacy & Advancing the Mission, to Integrative Medicine, Nutrition, Cancer and the Immune System, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Pleural Mesothelioma, Clinical Trials and much more.

While on the Meso Foundation web site, please join their online Mesothelioma Community, which will allow you to exchange information with others through a Bulletin Board, as well as read a number of blogs touching on a wide variety of topics. You can also subscribe to an e-newsletter that will keep you informed about all the great work the Meso Foundation is accomplishing in its mission to find a cure for mesothelioma.

If you have any questions or need assistance, you may call the Meso Foundation at (805) 456-7272 or call them toll-free at 877-END-MESO.


Victims of asbestos — Virgil and Cheryl’s story

24 Sep 2009 by under Events, News, People

Virgil Cotton Victims of asbestos    Virgil and Cheryls storyIt was ’s third time attending the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma when I met her this past June. We were both seated in the hotel lobby, waiting for a bus to take us to Capitol Hill, where we would ask our legislators to support a complete ban of asbestos and for funding for mesothelioma research.

I think it was Cheryl who introduced herself first, and I was delighted to hear she was from my home state, Alabama, about two and a half hours north of Montgomery, in Anniston. When I told her I was from Montgomery, she was ecstatic to finally find someone with a meso connection in her home state.

Cheryl lost her husband, Virgil, to mesothelioma on May 31, 2005, just two days after their 40th wedding anniversary. She began attending conference almost immediately, urgently needing to connect with others who might understand what she was going through, and to make sense of a disease that took her best friend and love of her life before either of them fully realized what was happening.

Virgil first began to notice something was wrong in late March 2004, when he had a severe pain in his side. His hobby was restoring vintage automobiles, and he had been working on a friend’s car, so he thought he had possibly just bruised a muscle while working. But shortly after that he developed a terrible cough.

“It was a whole-body cough,” Cheryl recalls. “Like from head to toe.”

Virgil went to see his doctor, who thought the cough might be related to a drug he was taking following a heart catheterization, which he’d had earlier that year.

“The doctor said it would take 60 days or so to get the drug out of his system, so basically for two months we did nothing,” Cheryl says. “The pain in his side persisted, and the cough got worse. Right up until this time, after his heart problems, he had been dedicated to cardiovascular exercise and eating right. He was probably in the best shape he’d been in for years. He would actually get onto to me about exercising more and eating right,” she recalls with a laugh before turning sober again. “So this was just odd. He kept feeling sicker and sicker.”

He went back to the doctor, thinking maybe there was something wrong with his heart. Tests showed his heart was fine, and doctors sent him home and told him to just continue to exercise and eat right.

But Virgil began having trouble breathing. It was September by now. He visited the doctor again, and was referred to a pulmonary specialist for a thoracentesis. They found fluid in his lungs, but tests came back negative for cancer or any type of infection. But the fluid came back almost immediately.

Cheryl was getting really worried.

“He was used to being active, but now he could hardly get around. He had no energy,” she remembers. “We had requested referrals to see some doctors in Birmingham, because he was dying in front of me. I knew there was something more going on, and I couldn’t understand why nobody could tell us. We had two more thoracenteses and still no diagnosis. The local doctors said they didn’t know what was wrong with him.”

At this point, Cheryl decided to call Birmingham, and talked to a nurse at UAB Medical Center. She got a referral for a pulmonary specialist, and made an appointment for Virgil the following week. But when they got to see the doctor, he said Virgil actually should see a thoracic surgeon, and gave them another referral. They gathered all Virgil’s test results and visited the thoracic surgeon on December 14. An initial theory was that Virgil might have a collapsed lung and scar tissue.

“Virgil had really gone downhill,” Cheryl said. “He was aging. Things had fallen apart in nine months, since the first symptoms.”

Doctors decided to do a thoractomy, but because it was Christmastime, they decided to wait until January, telling Virgil and Cheryl to go home and enjoy the holidays with their family. He finally had the surgery Jan. 4, and they first heard the word mesothelioma. But the diagnosis still wasn’t definite until about 10 days later.

“At that point it was stage 2+ or 3-. It was already advanced. We were referred to a doctor for chemotherapy, but still nobody was really telling us much about what this diagnosis meant. We had no idea.”

Virgil underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments, and then on April 20 began receiving radiation at a cancer center in Birmingham.

“By then, his breathing had deteriorated and they’d put him on oxygen,” Cheryl said. “He’d really not been able to lie flat since September. He had to prop up in a recliner or on a pallet on the floor.”

On May 19, a Thursday morning, Virgil woke Cheryl and told her something was wrong and that he felt he needed to go to the hospital. They went to UAB. On May 21, the doctor came in and told them Virgil was not improving, and that he didn’t have long to live. She estimated two and half to three months, and advised them to get their affairs in order.

“This was the first time anyone really talked to us about dying. Everyone was telling us he had time, that there was all this time.”

They called in Hospice care, and their daughter, Pam, came to visit, bringing their grandson and making a video of Virgil and the boy. On May 30, Virgil began doing worse, and passed away the next day. This was just nine days after they’d first been told that Virgil’s condition was terminal, and about 15 months since his first symptoms.

Cheryl was in shock. “He was 60 years old and had been in prime health,” she says. “When he died, he looked like he was 90. I didn’t even realize how bad he looked because I guess I saw him every day. Months later, I watched the video Pam had made just before he died, and then I really saw it.”

Virgil’s illness had been such a whirlwind; Cheryl wasn’t quite sure what to do after his death. She still couldn’t quite believe it had even happened. She was angry, that Virgil went so long with no diagnosis and no treatment. She felt guilty, like she ought to have somehow known more, or done more. And she felt alone.

Some time after Virgil was diagnosed with mesothelioma, Cheryl found the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of mesothelioma through outreach, education and funding research efforts to find a cure. She also connected with Sue Vento, the widow of Sen. Bruce Vento of Minnesota, after whom the pending “Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma” legislation before the U.S. Congress was named.

“She emailed me and I think called me, too,” Cheryl says. “She sent me a book on meso as well. She was the calm in the middle of my storm, and has kept in touch with me during this time via emails.”

Following Virgil’s death, Cheryl decided to attend the Meso Foundation’s annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, and packed her bags for the trip to Washington, D.C. Many of her friends couldn’t understand it, but she says it was something she had to do.

“I somehow found MARF and the main reason I went to the conference that first year was to have someone to share this pain, and try to come to some conclusions,” she said. “You feel like you didn’t do something you should have. We had never heard of the word until they told us the diagnosis.

“I really felt like … when you lose your husband, who had been my friend, before he was my sweetheart – we’d known each other since we were 12. I felt if there was some way I could reach out to someone else it would help me as much as maybe I could help them. I felt there was that need in my heart, to find out as much as I could about the disease,” Cheryl says. “It was wonderful to know that people were surviving. But it makes me angry that Virgil didn’t have a chance.”

She had a chance to meet her “rock,” Sue Vento, at that first conference as well. Since that time, Cheryl has attended the Symposium for three years in a row, where she is active, joining others in visiting Capitol Hill to ask Congress to ban asbestos, and to fund mesothelioma research. She is also active in her community, talking to people about the dangers of asbestos exposure and about mesothelioma. She takes brochures about mesothelioma to doctors’ offices, hoping to increase knowledge among the medical community, hoping that someone else may be diagnosed early enough for treatment.

“Now I have contact with more people who are battling mesothelioma, and I learn that most people also have never heard of it. At the time, you just have to hang in there, and you can fall apart later. So I try to connect and just try to help someone, to let them know that someone is there who understands what they are going through. And it helps me too,” she says.

“I share my story every chance I get. I wear an awareness pin. People need to know asbestos is out there and it’s killing people.”

Outreach is hard. Every time she shares Virgil’s story, the pain is fresh again. But Cheryl is determined, and she’s willing.

“Mesothelioma patients and their families are victims,” Cheryl says. “They are victims of asbestos. And all of this COULD and SHOULD have been avoided!”


Mesothelioma community rallies to raise awareness, find a cure

30 Jun 2009 by under Events, News, Organizations, Research/Treatment

washington dc all photos 013 100x100 Mesothelioma community rallies to raise awareness, find a cureMore than 230 people gathered in Washington, D.C., last week to attend the 6th Annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, presented by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This was the largest attendance to date for the event, and 170 of that number also participated in Advocacy Day events, visiting their Congressional delegates on Capitol Hill.

This annual symposium is “for everybody” affected by mesothelioma. This includes patients, caregivers and family members, and those who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, as well as advocates and scientific and medical experts. The event is designed to provide education about new research and treatment, to assist meso patients and their families and loved ones with coping skills and a network of support, and provide advocates with the tools to help make an impact in the effort to raise awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure, and to raise funds for research.

“I don’t think any community knows more about holding onto hope in the midst of difficult circumstances than mesothelioma patients and their families, ” said MARF executive director . “But there is still a perception of mesothelioma as an orphan disease. It is overlooked, by the government, by the average person, despite the huge presence of asbestos in our society,” he said.

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the chest wall or, more rarely, the abdomen, and, in very rare instances, the heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and may have a latency period of up to 40 years or more from the time of exposure until symptoms manifest. It is difficult to diagnose, and often is misdiagnosed until too late for effective treatment. Even if diagnosed early, treatment is often difficult, and there is currently no known cure.

The Mesothelioma Applied Reserach Foundation is the largest independent program for mesothelioma reserach and support in the world. It operates a competitive grant program that awards up to 10 grants, or $10 million, each year to research projects most likely to lead to better treatment.

The Foundation is a non-profit organization whose main mission is dedicated to “eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma.”

MARF needs funding. This is the only organization dedicated to the research and treatment of mesothelioma, but it is facing the same struggles that many other charitable foundations are facing in this tough economy – donations are down, funding is stretched thin. The foundation received 59 grant applications in 2008 – programs that WANT to explore and investigate mesothelioma in search of earlier diagnosis, better treatment methods and, ultimately a cure. But the Foundation was only able to fund five new programs in 2008.

It is estimated that 3,300 new cases of mesothelioma will be diagnosed each year.

Mesothelioma, once considered an industrial disease affecting primarily older men, is being diagnosed in younger and younger people. In 2008, a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is everybody’s problem. We cannot afford NOT to support mesothelioma research.

For more information about the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and how to make a donation, visit them online.

The Foundation also needs volunteers. There are a number of ways you can help, from advocacy efforts to planning a fund-raising event, to simply helping put out the word about mesothelioma and the effects of asbestos exposure. You can find that information on their web site, too.

This was my first experience at the Symposium, and it was emotionally and intellectually exhausting, and inspiring, and motivating. I met some amazing people who, despite being personally devestated by mesothelioma, are determined to keep fighting. I’m amazed by this great group of folks.

I plan to add many more stories from information presented at the conference, and from the people I met there, in the next several days, so please check back! It’s too much to tell in one post!


Save the date for Meso Symposium 2009

6 Feb 2009 by under Events, Organizations, Research/Treatment

marf logo square Save the date for Meso Symposium 2009The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has announced the date for its 2009 International Symposium on Malignant . The annual event will be held June 25-27 in , D.C.

The Symposium highlights the latest advances in research and treatment for patients and caregivers, offers psychosocial support to them as well as those who have lost someone to the disease, and provides significant advocacy and volunteer opportunities for those who are intent on eradicating mesothelioma.

Activities usually include educational forums on a number of medical topics related to mesothelioma, as well as instruction on outreach topics including volunteerism, fundraising, peer support and advocacy, to help those who want to make a difference learn how to be most effective.

While specifics on this year’s event have not been announced, last year’s event also included opportunities for attendees to lobby their congressional delegation on behalf of asbestos and mesothelioma awareness and funding. There also was a gala dinner to honor those living with meso, and recognize outstanding volunteers and advocates for their hard work.

As in past years, scholarships for Symposium registration fees, as well as for transportation and accommodations, are available for patients, family members and caregivers who would like to attend.

For more information, visit www.CureMeso.org.


Girl honors grandpa at Mesothelioma symposium

30 Jun 2008 by under Events, Organizations, People

As part of the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, held last week in Washington, D.C., 13-year-old Lexi Miletto presented a keynote address to more than 200 top-level cancer researchers, scientists and physicians, as well as mesothelioma survivors, caregivers and their families. The Symposium is an annual event presented by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation). Lexi’s grandfather, , died from mesothelioma three years ago.

When her grandfather passed away, 9-year-old Lexi, who lives just outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, channeled her grief into a letter-writing campaign, hoping to raise awareness of mesothelioma. According to an article in The Morning Call, a publication that serves Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Lexi wrote medical research organizations, political leaders including President George Bush, and even television celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, hoping to spread the word about asbestos danger and mesothelioma.

This year, the Meso Foundation invited Lexi to give the keynote address Friday, June 27, at its International Symposium. The Morning Call quotes Chris Hahn, the foundation’s executive director, as saying, ”We wanted to show the full spectrum of the disease’s effect on families. How inspiring it is that this young gal going into eighth grade has this concern for a much bigger national problem.”


MARF announces Mesothelioma Symposium

29 May 2008 by under Events, Organizations

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) will hold its International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma 2008 in Washington, D.C., June 26-28. The annual event highlights the latest advances in research and treatment for patients and caregivers, offers support to them as well as those who have lost someone to the disease, and provides significant advocacy and volunteer opportunities for those who are intent on eradicating mesothelioma.

According to Rob Grayson, director of marketing for the Meso Foundation, the event actually started as a purely scientific event, geared toward researchers and scientists, with technical presentations. However, at the time, there were no informational or educational events like it, and they found that patients, families and caregivers wanted to attend.

“Initially, these people would come and sit in on these high-level presentations by scientists, with very technical presentations. We saw the interest and our meeting has now evolved into more of a patient meeting, the scientists speak in more layman’s terms, and we’ve added programs to reach out to people who are also interested in the community of support and the activism that takes place,” Grayson said.

The advocacy element is a new piece of the symposium, added last year when the meeting coincided with debate in the Senate on the Ban Asbestos in America Act, S. 742, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

“The day we lobbied, they took an administrative vote, and it passed in the Senate. So we’re going back to Washington this year,” Grayson said.

Advocacy efforts this year will include a rallying cry to the House of Representatives to move quickly to pass the legislation in the House, which bans asbestos and provides research funding for mesothelioma. Last week, the Foundation issued an action alert in support of The Bruce Vento Ban and Prevent Act of 2007 (), the companion to the Senate bill. The bill includes $10 million for mesothelioma research.

“Normally we’d hold the Symposium in a different city each year, but it’s almost the same timing as last year, with the bill pending, this time in the House, so we’re back to Washington,” Grayson explained.

Those attending the Symposium can register to participate in the advocacy efforts, and the Meso Foundation will arrange for them to meet personally with their congressional delegate, and will provide a training session to help advocates prepare for the meeting.

In addition to lobbying for passage of the House bill, Symposium advocates will request that the Senate’s Defense Appropriations Subcommittee maintain, for the second year, mesothelioma’s eligibility to compete for medical research funding from the Department of Defense. In 2007, the DoD appropriated $50 million and included mesothelioma as a research priority for its Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, effective in the 2008 budget. The Meso Foundation is working for continuing and increasing funds for research in the 2009 defense appropriations bill.

“There currently is no ban on asbestos, so companies can use it however they see fit. We’ve pretty much stopped mining here, but asbestos is still used in about 3,000 products that you could go out and buy right now. Even if we banned asbestos tomorrow, it probably won’t change the rate of sickness for the next 50 years, due to the latency period of asbestos. That’s why the funding for research is so important,” Grayson says. “Advocacy and the call for a ban on asbestos raises awareness, and raises money for research, which is what we need to deal with the illness itself,” he said.

In addition to advocacy, the Symposium again will feature an educational program, with sessions covering topics including Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Pleural Meso Surgical Options, Emerging Therapies, Optimizing Patient Care, and Scientific Advances in Meso Research. Other educational programs will provide instruction on outreach topics including volunteerism, fundraising, peer support and advocacy, to help those who want to make a difference learn how to be most effective.

A Gala Dinner will honor those people living with meso, and recognize outstanding volunteers and advocates for their hard work and dedication to raising awareness. The dinner will feature a unique guest speaker – Seventh grader Lexi Miletto, the granddaughter of Joseph Miletto, who died in 2005 of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Scholarships for Symposium registration fees, as well as for transportation and accommodations, are still available for patients, family members and caregivers who would like to attend. Contact the Meso Foundation at www.curemeso.org or call 805-563-8400 for details.

The Mesothelioma Foundation was started in 1999, by attorney Roger Worthington. Unfortunately, Grayson says, there was an initial stigma because of his association, with people suspicious the Foundation was attempting to gather clients for his firm, so he removed himself from the Board of Directors and the Foundation was re-established as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization. Today, with 8 staff members, the organization raises $2.5 million annually and funds more than $1 million in research projects.

“Currently, most of our funding goes to seed money to help researchers who have good ideas for treatment to validate their work, and take it to the NIH to get additional funding for the next step of the research,” Grayson explained. “We hope very soon that we’ll be able to fund clinical trials.”