Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

Lung cancer awareness takes big step forward

18 Aug 2009 by under Legal, News, Organizations

lca logo Lung cancer awareness takes big step forwardThis week the announced a big step forward in raising awareness and establishing real support for lung cancer research. The agency announced Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has agreed to cosponsor the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act of 2009, S.332.

This important legislation authorizes a five-year program to reduce the mortality rate of lung cancer, which continues to be the number one cancer killer.

Even though mesothelioma is not technically classified as “lung cancer” because it affects the lining of the chest and lungs, and can also affect the lining of the abdomen and the heart, I am excited to see real progress being made in this area. Funding for research and treatment of lung cancer can only benefit victims of mesothelioma – pleural in particular, affecting the lungs – as well as other asbestos-related diseases that affect the lungs, such as abestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs.

The bill will require the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs to combine forces on a comprehensive, coordinated plan of action with funding authorized for five years to accomplish mortality reduction goals.

Of particular interest is a requirement in the bill directing the Secretaries of (DoD) and Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to implement an early detection and disease management program for military personnel who are at high risk of lung cancer because of exposure to carcinogens during active duty. As the mesothelioma community knows, many veterans, particularly those who served in the U.S. Navy, now suffer from mesothelioma as a result of the widespread use of asbestos on Navy vessels for years.

According to the LCA, the bill includes specific authorizations of $75,000,000 for certain National Institutes of Health (NIH) agencies in FY10 and authorizes such additional sums as may be necessary for all the cited agencies to accomplish the goal for FY2010 through FY2014.

Read more at the LCA web site.

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 , 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.

Michigan firefighters rally for brother

20 Jun 2008 by under Events

Firefighters in the city of Portage, Michigan, are used to facing challenges. Their daily work is filled with the unexpected. Recently, however, they’ve responded to a call that has nothing to do with smoke and flames, but everything to do with helping to save a life, and this time it’s one of their own – 25-year veteran firefighter Brad Wilson, diagnosed with mesothelioma.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports members of the Portage Fire Department, led by Rick Nason, a firefighter and president of the Portage Professional Firefighters Union, and firefighter Jim Kelecava, have organized a community fund-raising event to help Wilson and his family. The event, a spaghetti supper, will be held from 4:30-7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5855, on S. Sprinkle Road in Portage. Donations will be taken at the door.

The paper reports Wilson and his wife, Cinda, and mother, Mary Lubbert, leave next week for , where Wilson will undergo evaluation at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

His co-workers at Station 3, as well as throughout the Portage Fire Department, say Wilson was always the first in line to offer help to anyone who needed it, taking extra shifts, participating in the department’s Honor Guard and raising money for underprivileged children and muscular dystrophy, according to the Gazette. It was automatic, they said, to rally around their friend and colleague.

If you live in the Portage area, please take the time to visit this fund-raising event!

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 mesothelioma, 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 (, 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.


A daughter remembers Dad

9 May 2008 by under People

I received an email a few days ago from Nancy Wagner, in Jacksonville, Florida. She found our site through the Lung Cancer Alliance message and journal sites, over at She wanted some mesothelioma awareness materials, like our awareness bracelets, to share with people around her, in memory of her father, Bill, who passed away with mesothelioma in 2004. Nancy was kind enough to share her Dad’s story with us:

My Dad, Bill [Hackett], was a master mechanic and boilermaker from the time he was 25 until he retired on disability at age 61. During this time he dismantled and rebuilt or built boilers to run some of the company’s largest factories and businesses. He started out at Maryland Ship Building and Dry Dock and then went on to become an independent contractor.

Over the years he was exposed to asbestos hundreds of times, not knowing back then that it would be what eventually claimed his life.

From the time he was retired due to this disability until his in 2004, he suffered tremendously with breathing disorders from mesothelioma. He faced several surgeries and had to have fluid removed from his body numerous times. There were days he could hardly breathe at all, but he kept going. How I will never know.

Because he had been self employed, there was no insurance because he could not afford it. And social security did not pay very much on a monthly basis. Being a decorated WW II veteran, he was entitled to some treatment through the Veterans Administration.

My father was a very independent man and refused to give up or give in to anything that stopped him from doing what he wanted and going where he wanted. And he refused to be a burden on any one, especially his daughters. Until the week he died he continued to serve as Chaplain of the American Legion Post and made arrangements for former veterans’ funerals and assisted their families.

But he never told us about the cancer. He went to all of his chemo appointments and never told us anything. It wasn’t until after his death and the Death Certificate was issued did we know this is what took him. He died alone, 2 weeks before Christmas, in the house where we grew up.

My dad was truly a great man. I believe the reason he never told any of us was because we lost our Mom to cancer when she was 34 and he was 36 and he didn’t want us to have to face losing him to cancer, even though it was a different kind.

Almost 2 years after his death, I found out that I have stage IV lung cancer.

Cancer in any form is life threatening. The more people are aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer, the better off they will be. Annual checkups are vital. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Cancer caught early can be cured. The later the stage, the more intense the treatments and the less chance for remission.

I’d just like to thank Nancy for sharing her Dad’s personal story with us, and for helping to raise awareness and urge for early detection and . God bless you.

Asbestos hazard forces 31,000-acre land closing

8 May 2008 by under Events

ba clear creek graphic 150x150 Asbestos hazard forces 31,000 acre land closingApproximately 31,000 acres of public land in California’s Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) have been closed to all forms of entry and public use by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, based on the results of an Environmental Protection Agency CCMA Asbestos Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessment. The closure order was issued by the Bureau on May 1.

The closure order states, “This closure is necessary to protect public land users from human health risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos in the CCMA based upon a final report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency that concludes that public use activities could expose an individual to excess lifetime cancer risks. The order will remain in effect while the BLM completes a Resource Management Plan for the CCMA to determine if and how visitor use can occur without associated health risks.”

The risk in this area comes from natural deposits of asbestos. Asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer.

The San Francisco Chronicle, on the web site, quotes Jere Johnson, a project manager with the EPA, as saying, “Frankly, we were surprised at how high the levels of asbestos are at Clear Creek. What we found is that there is a lot of asbestos in the soil, and when you disturb the soil it poses a health risk.”

Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones says outdoor enthusiasts are not happy about the area’s closing, and are skeptical of the danger. She quotes Don Amador, Western representative for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, an outdoor advocacy group, as saying, “It’s unprecedented, as far as public land issues go. We’re going to want to fight it, either administratively or in court.”

The article says the area will most likely be off-limits for at least a few years, while the Bureau of Land Management completes its own study.

There will be a public meeting tonight at the Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, from 6-9 p.m. There also will be an open house from 3-5 p.m. Additional meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m. May 19 at Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 649 San Benito Street in Hollister; and 6-8 p.m. May 21 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225, 150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose.

If you live in the area, please let me know if you attend any of these meetings. We will follow this issue and let you know if there are new developments.

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 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