Posts Tagged ‘Rear Admiral Phil Coady’

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 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 , fighting the battle for lung cancer 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.

Complicated path for veterans with mesothelioma

14 May 2008 by under Legal, News

navy logo Complicated path for veterans with mesotheliomaThe prevalence of , especially through the mid-1970s, has put millions of Americans at risk for mesothelioma, a painful, usually lethal cancer almost always related to 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 (, 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 Lung Cancer Alliance (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.


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 clinical trials for new medications.

“Right now, there are only about three, maybe four, drugs that are approved for treating lung cancer,” explains , (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 awareness 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 or call the Lung Cancer Information Line at 800-298-2436. Tap into the LCA Survivors Community online at 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. (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. “’s first mission is to get before Congress to make this a national priority. Then, we go back to Congress 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, U.S. Navy (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 , 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