Posts Tagged ‘Karmanos Cancer Institute’

Asbestos Awareness Conference set for March 28

5 Feb 2009 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News, Organizations

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has announced its Fifth Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference is set for March 28, 2009, in Manhattan Beach, Calif. The purpose of the event is to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos, ban its use and encourage research efforts to improve treatment options for asbestos diseases like mesothelioma.

The conference will feature prominent physicians, scientists, safety and health directors, as well as survivors, who will present current information about the status of asbestos in the U.S. and worldwide. Discussion will include facts on exposure, asbestos-related diseases and how to prevent them, and where to turn for help.

In addition to the main event on Saturday, there will be an evening reception on Friday, March 27, featuring musician Jordan Zevon, whose father, legendary singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, died of mesothelioma in 2003; and a Unity and Hope Remembrance Brunch on Sunday, March 29.

Five individuals will be honored for their outstanding work in raising awareness about asbestos exposure: U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for her work to ban asbestos in the U.S.;  Margaret Seminario, AFL/CIO, for her efforts to unite, educate and empower asbestos victims and workers; Dr. Stephen Levin, MD, for his research into the social and medical impact of asbestos; and Pralhad Malvadkar and Raghunath Manwar for their work with victims of asbestos exposure in India and worldwide.

The conference is presented by ADAO, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat.

For more information or registration, visit ADAO online.


The mental toll of mesothelioma

14 Apr 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Research/Treatment

The physical result of mesothelioma and asbestos disease are often all-too evident. People wracked with pain, coughing, unable to catch their breath. But what about the mental toll of this disease?

Perhaps one of the most interesting presentations at the recent Asbestos Awareness Day Conference in Detroit, at least to me, was that of Rebecca J. W. Cline, PhD, a senior scientist in Communication and Behavioral Oncology for the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Wayne State University.

Dr. Cline recently conducted a community-based focus group investigation in Libby, Montana, on psychosocial issues related to vermiculite/asbestos exposure. She also is currently leading a related population-based survey investigating that community.

She describes asbestos related disease as a “slow-motion technological disaster,” in which community and social responses have a great deal to do with how people fare, mentally and socially.

The basic definition of a technological disaster is a “catastrophic event caused by humans that results in the toxic contamination of the environment.” This includes asbestos contamination, as in Libby, resulting from decades of vermiculite mining, hence “slow moving,” as well as things like oil spills, which can devastate an area fairly quickly.

Libby is the epicenter of what Dr. Cline calls “the worst environmental disaster in the United States,” with multiple generations affected. She examined in particular how stigma associated with asbestos disease can have an impact on what people do.

Dr. Cline said there are two possible responses to technological disaster – the emergence of an altruistic community, or a community in conflict. The latter, she said, is common where there is human culpability, and it was the result in Libby.

The Libby study, conducted in 2006, included focus groups and some individual interviews with adults who lived and worked in the Libby area for at least the past five years. Interview subjects included people with connections to the mine, people with no connections to the mine, people affected by asbestos disease personally, people with family affected by the disease, and people with no disease in family or person.

She found that people fell into three categories – early believers, those who immediately understood the connection of vermiculite to what was happening to the town; late believers, those who initially resisted the idea that the mine made people sick; and those in denial or conflicted, who still did not or would not believe the mine was responsible.

Dr. Cline found that there was a great deal of stigma attached to asbestos-related disease, which created a barrier to social support. People with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases were often afraid to talk about it, she said, even to close friends.

She said that the stigma came from a variety of sources. Conflicts included concerns about the economic disaster that the loss of the mine signified for the town, for which it was the main industry and source of jobs and security. People feared that if the mine were blamed for illness and deaths in the community there would be a decline in property values, loss of jobs, and a lost way of life.

As a part or a result of that, conflict also grew from a concern about what was the truth. There was a suspicion among neighbors that people claiming illnesses were phony, money-grubbing, greedy or opportunistic, making up illnesses to get a part of a financial settlement from the mining company.

People suffering from asbestos disease personally or within their family were afraid to talk about it out of fear that they would be ostracized and shunned by their neighbors and their community.

Dr. Cline told the story of two women, best friends for years, who bumped into each other in the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, which had been established in Libby to test, diagnose and treat patients. “What are you doing here?” one whispered. “I have the asbestos,” the other whispered back. “Me too,” came the whispered response. Best friends, but afraid at the core to admit to having asbestos disease.

On top of this, people who are ill or whose family members are ill fear the health and medical disaster itself, which was already upon them. They said they felt a lack of hope for survival, not just for themselves or their immediate family, but for generations.

Some of those in denial, or conflicted, still refuse to be tested for asbestos disease. They don’t want to know, Dr. Cline says, or they do not believe the mine could harm them.

There appears to be one universal in Libby.

“Across the groups, people felt like the community as a whole had been stigmatized, that everyone ‘knew about Libby’ and it had been given a bad reputation,” Dr. Cline said.

In addition to the physical toll, the mental toll of asbestos disease in Libby has been incalculable, she said.


Karmanos tackles looming asbestos epidemic

2 Apr 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Events, Organizations, People

kci logo top.thumbnail Karmanos tackles looming asbestos epidemicAs I mentioned earlier this week, I spent the past weekend in Detroit, Michigan, at the 4th Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference, presented by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).

The conference was held at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, which is the location of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers, co-directed by Dr. Michael Harbut and Dr. John Ruckdeschel, both of whom spoke at the ADAO conference.

While it might seem obvious, Dr. Harbut said, a key to diagnosing and treating asbestos disease is an emphasis on a medical approach.

Dr. Harbut explained that the Karmanos program “approaches asbestos disease from a purely medical standpoint, which includes taking into account any risk factors, employing state-of-the-art scanning equipment and a multidisciplinary, research-driven approach to early detection and treatment. This includes consideration of non-mailgnant or sub-clinical asbestos disease.

“Diseases that are ‘not hurting you yet,’” he said.

Focus areas at the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers include the establishment of a schema for high resolution CT (HRCT) classification, measurement of pleural plaque volume, examination of psycho-social aspects of asbestos disease, testing new treatments including osteopontin and SMRP, and compiling a comprehensive database of disease, diagnosis and treatment.

The Center encourages anyone at risk from asbestos exposure to seek testing for early detection.

Dr. Ruckdeschel said barriers to successful asbestos disease treatment include a sense of nihilism in the medical community, the idea of giving up on the patient when mesothelioma is diagnosed due to its traditionally high mortality rate. There is a sense of providing only “quick fix” supportive care, he said.

Other challenges include a lack of treatment centers with a documented track record, lack of large standardized treatment trials, and a paucity of research investment, Dr. Ruckdeschel said.

The Center predicts an epidemic of vermiculite and asbestos-related cancers in the near future, as the latency period of asbestos disease exposure is reached, and as asbestos exposure spreads around the world, particularly in third-world countries.

“One life lost to asbestos disease is tragic. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable,” Dr. Ruckdeschel said.

For more information, visit the Karmanos Cancer Institute online or call 1-800-KARMANOS.


Conference educates about asbestos

31 Mar 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News

Over the weekend I traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to attend the fourth annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference, presented by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The conference included a full day of educational and informative presentations on Saturday, as well as a remembrance service on Sunday.

Following is a story that appeared in the Detroit Free Press about the remembrance service, and the mission of asbestos awareness. I will post some stories and images from the conference this week, but I wanted to share this excellent report.

By Amber Hunt, Free Press Staff Writer

For Andrew Manuel, it began with back pain.

But the seemingly benign symptom turned out to be something far more sinister, and within two years, the married father of three shed 65 pounds, underwent surgery to have a lung removed and endured chemotherapy and radiation to no avail.

At 42, he was dead. The killer: mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos.

“When I heard the diagnosis, I said, ‘Meso-what?’ ” said Manuel’s wife, Latanyta Manuel, 45, on Sunday. “All I heard was ‘lung cancer,’ and I said, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ My husband never smoked or drank, but they said this cancer is about asbestos.”

On Sunday, a group of people affected by the deadly disease, which they refer to as “meso” for simplicity’s sake, gathered at the Marriott in downtown Detroit’s Renaissance Center for a remembrance brunch.

The event was sponsored by California-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Michigan.

Some, such as Manuel, had lost loved ones. Others have been diagnosed with the deadly disease themselves.

They gather annually, they said, to support each other and to spread the word about asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and asbestosis.

Asbestos is a fiber that for decades was routinely used for fireproofing and insulation.

While the U.S. government has limited its use, asbestos still can be found in many products, including some stuccos, vinyl flooring and even theater curtains, according to the Asbestos Resource Center.

“Asbestos is still being imported. It’s still being put in products,” said Michelle Zigielbaum, whose husband, Paul, has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

By the time he was diagnosed, his stomach was so full of fluid and tumors that “I looked like a pregnant woman,” Paul Zigielbaum said.

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization recently conducted a study that tested 250 products off store shelves for asbestos content. A first lab found that 18 of the products contained asbestos.

A second lab confirmed that eight of the products had asbestos, while a third confirmed that five products — including a child’s toy — contained asbestos.

Those gathered Sunday said they and their loved ones got sick in different ways.

Andrew Manuel’s father worked in a pipeline, bringing asbestos back into the home. Paul Zigielbaum said he believes he was exposed secondhand, too, but said he also believes that contact with everyday products contributed.

All blamed aggressive asbestos lobbyists as the reason the United States hasn’t banned the substance altogether.

“It’s disturbing to see how companies and politicians try to cover it up,” said Dwayne Manuel, Andrew Manuel’s 26-year-old son. “This is a preventable disease.”

Latanyta Manuel said she just wants to honor her husband’s wishes and spread awareness about the disease.

“Once it erupts, it just kind of takes over,” she said. “People need to know.”

Contact AMBER HUNT at 586-826-7267 or alhunt@freepress.com.


Asbestos Awareness Day April 1

27 Feb 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Events, Organizations, People

adad stacked 08.thumbnail Asbestos Awareness Day April 1The 4th Annual Asbestos Awareness Day is set for Tuesday, April 1, 2008. The first week of April, April 1-7, also is Asbestos Awareness Week.

On October 6th, 2004, Senator Harry Reid introduced Senate Asbestos Awareness Day Resolution (S. Res. 448). This resolution, proposed by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), designates April 1st as National Asbestos Awareness Day. Then, in 2007, Senate Resolution 108 designated the first week of April as National Asbestos Awareness Week.

In conjunction with Asbestos Awareness Day, the ADAO is having a conference March 28-29, with a remembrance service on Sunday, March 30. These events will be held in Detroit, MI, with the main conference events on Saturday at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. I am planning to attend the conference and hope to put up a lot of posts about the events and speakers.

In addition to the main conference activities, Jordan Zevon, son of acclaimed singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, who passed away from Mesothelioma in 2003, will be at the conference for a meet-and-greet Friday night and will speak on Saturday. He is the National Spokesperson for ADAO. Also, ADAO will present a number of awards Saturday to honor the people who have made a difference in Asbestos Disease Awareness.

For more information, or to register to attend the conference (deadline is TOMORROW, Feb. 28!) visit ADAO online.