Posts Tagged ‘Navy’

LCA Chairman Coady has died

1 Jul 2008 by under News, People

coady 150x150 LCA Chairman Coady has diedI 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 , 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 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.


A dad’s tragic death from mesothelioma

16 May 2008 by under People

Recently, Debi Swagart contacted me to share the heartbreaking story of her father’s death from mesothelioma. Living in a small town in Michigan, Warren Faubert fell ill in December 2001, but was not diagnosed with mesothelioma until May 2002 – much too late for treatment. At the time, she says, not much was known about mesothelioma, even among the small-town physicians who treated him for pneumonia. Here is her story:

Let me tell you a story about my loving Dad. He was my hero, he was my father. In December 2001 he came down with pneumonia and could never get rid of it. He didn’t really think that much about it at the time, and said the doctors were trying many different medicines to help him.

In February 2002 I got a call from my uncle that they figured my Dad had a stroke. My husband and I rushed from Memphis to Escanaba, Michigan. When we got there, what a shock! My dad had been a construction worker all his life, and was muscular and fit, especially in his upper body. He was a short man, about five-foot-five and 185 pounds. When we saw him in February, he weighed only 134 pounds. My husband and I were just shocked by his appearance, how sick he looked.

The doctor walked into the room and told my Dad, “Well, Warren, all the tests show that you did not have a stroke.” But they didn’t offer any answers about what was wrong with him. I thought, “Ok, what is going on?!” We took him home that day and I stayed with him for a week. He felt sure the doctors would help him, so I reluctantly went back home.

After I had been home in Memphis for about a week, a friend of the family called me and said, “Debi, you better get back here. Warren is not good.” I got on a plane immediately.

Dad lived in the upper part of Michigan where there are no major airports, so I flew into Green Bay, , and drove 2 hours to the house. As soon as I walked in, I saw that my Dad had gotten even smaller. He was down to about 110 pounds! His clothes would not fit him – they just fell off his body. I went to the store and ended up getting him a boys’ size 14, which he was able to wear. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? What was going on?

The next day I took Dad to the doctor’s office, and they told me he had pneumonia again. I just didn’t believe this, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. Shouldn’t I trust the doctors? But he just kept getting worse. He was wasting away in front of me.

From December 2001 to May 2002 my Dad had infection in his lungs 22 times. He continued to weaken, until we rushed him to the hospital on May 1. He was admitted, but it was a nightmare from that time on.

On May 10, the doctor came in Dad’s room and admitted he had no clue what was going on. I just lost it! I started yelling, “Look, this man is a veteran, and a retired Union man! He has three medical insurance policies. Get someone in here that can help him and can tell us what is wrong!”

They ended up flying in a doctor from the . As soon as he saw my dad and looked at his case history, he told me, “I have no doubt your father has mesothelioma.”

I had no clue what he was even talking about, let alone dealing with the fact that he had a cancer that kills in the end, and no one could tell me anything about this illness. You have to understand that back then, there in the upper peninsula of Michigan, there was very little internet access. I didn’t even know how to begin researching it.

Well, they took a piece of Daddy’s lung out for a biopsy, and on May 15 it came back as stage IV mesothelioma. I was just so mad that all this time had been wasted, while his health just deteriorated. It took me getting mad and fighting with them to even get a diagnosis!

I lost my hero on June 7 from mesothelioma. He died the same day my youngest son was to graduate from college. He missed out on that. We’ve missed out on so many things now. At the time of his death, my father’s weight was 76 pounds. I will never forget the way he looked.

Of course, now my family lives in fear that I will get this also from materials my Dad might have brought home from his work on Navy bases. My husband also is retired from the Navy with 23 years, and we worry about his exposure to asbestos. I already suffer from asthma and we worry what could happen if I contract mesothelioma.

Dad served in the Korean conflict at age 17, and no VA nursing home in the upper part of Michigan would take him because they didn’t know how to deal with his illness. I am on a mission every time this is something going on in D.C., from a trust fund to any bill, you bet this daughter of a Vet is on that hill fighting for the rights of meso victims! I will not stop!

Warren Faubert was 69 when he died of mesothelioma on June 7, 2002. He died less than one month after his official diagnosis.


Complicated path for veterans with mesothelioma

14 May 2008 by under Legal, News

navy logo Complicated path for veterans with mesotheliomaThe prevalence of asbestos, especially through the mid-1970s, has put millions of Americans at risk for , a painful, usually lethal cancer almost always related to asbestos exposure. Among the hardest hit are U.S. veterans who were exposed occupationally, especially in Navy ships and shipyards.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently 25 million living individuals who have served in the United States’ armed forces. It is believed that a great number of them were exposed to toxic asbestos-containing materials during military service.

Every ship and shipyard built by the Navy before the mid-70s was fitted with numerous asbestos-containing materials. These materials were extensively used in engine and boiler rooms and other areas below deck for fire safety purposes, as well as in other areas of the ship. In fact, virtually no portion of a naval ship was asbestos-free between the 1930s and mid-1970s.

Unfortunately, veterans have little recourse when diagnosed with mesothelioma they believe to be the result of asbestos exposure during their time of service. Because asbestos use was so widespread before the first bans in the 1970s, it is very difficult for veterans to prove that asbestos exposure occurred only in military service.

Veterans are not legally allowed to seek compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases from the U.S. government through the court system. Ailing veterans must file a claim against the asbestos manufacturer, and they also have the legal option to seek assistance through The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA is a government-run benefit system that is responsible for administering benefit programs to veterans, their families, and survivors. It is an incredibly complex system that comprises the second-largest federal department, after the Department of Defense. A search of the organization’s web site turns up no information about asbestos or mesothelioma. However, there are some organizations, such as Veterans Assistance Network (www.va-claim-help.com), that can help veterans wade through the VA benefits system.

Lung cancer is usually an indolent cancer that takes years to develop, thus the burden of treatment is falling most heavily on the VA. Late stage lung cancer is twice as costly to treat as early stage.

In February the (LCA) announced that for the second year in row a coalition of top veteran organizations is calling for a screening program for veterans at high risk of lung cancer, to be included in the Independent Budget for Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09). This highly regarded comprehensive alternative budget addresses the most urgent needs of veterans, and urges Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs to initiate a $3 million pilot screening program for veterans at high risk.

The AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign wars are the four co-authors of this document. More than 50 organizations support the Independent Budget.

A research program carried out by the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program at 40 centers in 26 states and 6 foreign countries during the past 13 years indicates that CT screening can detect lung cancer at Stage 1 in 85 percent of cases, and those treated immediately had a 10-year survival rate of 92 percent. By partnering with these types of programs, the Veterans Administration could quickly implement a pilot screening program for veterans at high risk, with a broad geographic reach and significant cost savings.

Rear Admiral Philip J. Coady, USN, (Ret.), chairman of LCA’s Board of Directors said, “Lung cancer continues to kill more men and women every year than all the other major cancers – breast, prostate, and colon – combined, and our veterans are at even higher risk, especially those whose active duty service exposed them to Agent Orange, asbestos, spent nuclear fuels, propellant gases and other carcinogens.”

Admiral Coady, a 34-year Navy veteran who never smoked, was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago.

“Because there are usually no specific symptoms, most people are diagnosed so late they die within a year,” he pointed out. “Yet advanced CT technology that can diagnose lung cancer at its earliest, most curable stage is available right now, and high-risk veterans not benefiting from this is wrong,” he said.

Sources: asbestos.com, VAWatchdog.org


DoD appropriations bill has meso funding request

7 May 2008 by under Events, News, Research/Treatment

In March, I posted that for the first time the Department of Defense (DoD) had appropriated funding for mesothelioma research as a priority within the department’s Medical Research Program, thanks in most part to the lobbying efforts of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (, Meso Foundation). Today, TheHill.com reports that MARF, with the backing of more than a dozen senators, is pushing for continuing and increasing funds for mesothelioma research in the 2009 defense appropriations bill.

In the 2008 defense appropriations bill, Congress designated $50 million for the mesothelioma research as part of the Pentagon’s peer-reviewed program.

TheHill.com points out that supporters of the initiative for continued funding in the 2009 bill argue that “at least one third of the people suffering from mesothelioma … have either been in the Navy or worked in Navy shipyards across the country” where they were exposed to asbestos. Much of the exposure in the Navy cases, the report states, happened between World War II and the Vietnam War, when asbestos was used in shipyards and ships. For that reason, supporters push for federal funding for research.

TheHill.com writer Roxana Tiron reports that last month several senators sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Defense panel in support of the continued funding. The letter stated, in part, “Funding through the Department of Defense appropriations bill is an important demonstration of our nation’s commitment to addressing the tragedy of mesothelioma and its disproportionate impact on those who serve our country.”

Among the bill’s supporters are Sens. (D-Mont.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who have been leading the charge to ban asbestos and secure more funding for mesothelioma research. The Ban Asbestos bill, introduced by Murray and passed in the Senate last October, includes $10 million per year in funding for cancer research. The companion bill in the House has not yet been passed.

Also among the supporters for the 2009 appropriations funding for meso are Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.).

The Meso Foundation funds approximately $1 million a year for research worldwide. The organization will hold its annual three-day symposium in Washington, D.C., starting on June 26, expecting more than 100 grassroots supporters to meet with their congressional representatives. For more information about this event, visit MARF online.


Is pulmonary fibrosis linked to asbestos?

30 Apr 2008 by under Events, People

A while ago, I posted a series of stories from an interview with Rear Adm. Phil Coady (ret.) the Chairman of the Board of the Lung Cancer Alliance. In the interview, he talked about pulmonary fibrosis. Since that time, I’ve had several people wondering if pulmonary fibrosis is connected to or mesothelioma.

The American Lung Association explains that pulmonary fibrosis is also called interstitial pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease (ILD). These three terms are often used to describe the same condition.

ILD is not lung cancer; it is a chronic lung disorder. ILD involves a thickening of the lung tissue, which becomes stiff and makes breathing more difficult and demanding. ILD can take many forms, and may progress slowly or rapidly, depending on the individual and the nature of the ILD.

The Lung Association reports that the common link in ILD is that it begins with inflammation, which may affect different parts of the lung. Inflammation may lead to permanent scarring of the lung tissue, which is often called pulmonary fibrosis. The interstitum is the tissue between the lung’s air sacs. Scarring begins in this area, which lends the condition its formal name.

Known causes of pulmonary fibrosis include occupational and environmental exposures, including exposure to asbestos, which can damage the lungs and cause scarring (fibrosis).

Other possible causes include a disease called Sarcoidosis, side effects of medication, radiation, connective tissue or collagen diseases, or genetic predisposition, which is not as common. The familial form of the disease is often called familial idiopathic (of unknown origin) pulmonary fibrosis.

When I spoke with Admiral Coady, he mentioned that he did have a family history of pulmonary fibrosis. He knew that his family history, combined with his exposure to asbestos while serving in the Navy, put him at greater risk for the disease, and was vigilant about early screening. He did eventually develop the condition. Sadly, he also later developed lung cancer, although not mesothelioma.

Some ILD improves with medication if treated when inflammation occurs, and some people also need oxygen therapy as part of their treatment.

I hope this answers the questions and clears up any confusion. While pulmonary fibrosis is not related to mesothelioma, it could be considered an asbestos-related disease.


LCA lobbies – Part 3 – Personal Assistance

27 Mar 2008 by under Organizations, People

Personal assistance to those with lung cancer

In addition to its lobbying efforts, the other main focus of the Lung Cancer Alliance is to provide care and counseling to patients diagnosed with lung cancer. A big part of this is to help patients find for new medications.

“Right now, there are only about three, maybe four, drugs that are approved for treating lung cancer,” explains Rear Admiral Phil Coady, U.S. Navy (Ret.), chairman of the board for the LCA. “Once you get past that, you’re on your own and there’s nothing else.”

The next step can be participation in a clinical trial testing new cancer-fighting drugs. The LCA has a screening process to help patients find a trial that fits their situation.

“It’s bewildering trying to figure out what’s a good trial for you and what you’re eligible for,” Coady said. “We ask patients questions about their progression, what they are willing to do, where they live, lots of other questions, and then we can process that information against a database of ongoing clinical trials and match a patient to where they are a good fit. It gives them another avenue to try something else, to keep hoping.”

They also provide patient support services like the Phone Buddy program, a peer-to-peer support network for people with lung cancer and their family members and caregivers, as well as an online forum where lung cancer survivors and their families can network with other people who are struggling with the illness.

Finally, LCA strives simply to raise about lung cancer, and to promote early screening.

“Our goal is to save lives. Simple as that,” Coady said.

For more information about LCA and its programs, visit www.lungcanceralliance.org or call the Lung Cancer Information Line at 800-298-2436. Tap into the LCA Survivors Community online at http://lungcancer.clinicahealth.com. Call the Phone Buddy program at 800-298-2436.


LCA lobbies – Part 2 – the stigma of lung cancer

25 Mar 2008 by under Organizations, People

The stigma of lung cancer

coady1.thumbnail LCA lobbies   Part 2   the stigma of lung cancerRear Admiral Phil Coady, U.S. Navy (Ret.), now serving as chairman of the board for the Lung Cancer Alliance, was never a smoker, and was surprised at the reactions of friends, family and co-workers when he told them he had lung cancer. They said he was brave for sharing the true nature of his illness.

“With lung cancer, there’s a real stigma attached to it. People don’t mention it in obituaries. There’s this perception that people with lung cancer brought it on themselves. I was never a smoker. Twenty percent of the women with lung cancer who are coming down with it every year have never been smokers.”

The stigma tends to inhibit discussion of lung cancer, Coady says, which impacts funding for research. If nobody is talking about it, the awareness just isn’t there, and it is treated as out of sight, out of mind. Meanwhile, lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Ninety-two percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer die from the disease.

“I believe intently that the solution to lung cancer is making people aware that it is a public health problem and developing a public policy program. National priorities have not been adjusted to make this a national priority,” Coady says. “LCA’s first mission is to get before to make this a national priority. Then, we go back to and put some dollars behind it.

“The numbers we have all stated about the number of people who have died from lung cancer are compelling. It’s a half a million people every three years. There is no other cancer that comes close. But there’s almost no public funding.”

One current lobbying effort involves approaching state legislatures to gather support for an initiative that would donate 1 percent of tobacco tax revenue or tobacco liability settlements collected by state government for lung cancer research.

“Right now we’re using that money to build roads, schools, other infrastructure, but nothing to do with the cancer,” Coady said.

Next: Personal help for those with lung cancer


LCA lobbies for lung cancer funding, awareness

21 Mar 2008 by under Organizations, People

Operating under the tagline “No More Excuses. No More Lung Cancer,” the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), a relatively new organization based in Washington, D.C., is working to remove the sigma from lung cancer and secure significant funding to fight the deadliest form of cancer.

Chairman Coady’s story

coady.thumbnail LCA lobbies for lung cancer funding, awareness Leading the charge for the organization is Rear Admiral Phil Coady, (Ret.), who serves as chairman of the board of directors. A career Navy officer, Coady was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in early 2005. He underwent surgery to remove the affected lobe and went through chemotherapy. In late 2005, the cancer recurred with metasteses to his bones. Chemotherapy has been successful in slowing the advance of the cancer for the past two years, and Coady is fighting for other lung cancer survivors.

Although Coady doesn’t suffer from mesothelioma, he is 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 saw what he thought was a disproportionate amount of lung cancer deaths.

He notes that shipboard service in the Navy, particularly during the years he served, routinely involved exposure to asbestos, second hand smoke and other possible carcinogens. Veterans also were at risk from exposure to chemicals such as Agent Orange, sulfur mustard gas, and other battlefield combustion products.

“I had heavy exposure to asbestos in the Navy,” he says. “I spent a lot of my time as an engineer on ships. In the 1960s there were no precautions about asbestos that I recall at all. We tore out asbestos with hand tools. A dust mask might have been our most aggressive protection.”

With a family history of pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic scarring of the lungs, Coady always had his asbestos exposure in the back of his mind in relation to his health, and had regular CT scans to check for the disease, which he did eventually develop as a result of his exposure. Then, in 2005, the scans also showed lung cancer.

“Ironically, it was really my concern about asbestos that probably saved my life,” Coady said, crediting his regular screenings with catching his cancer early.

Next: The stigma of lung cancer