Cancer does not care who its victim is — no matter their age, status, celebrity, or life situation. For mesothelioma victims, many are unaware they are even at risk, because they had no knowledge of being exposed to asbestos years prior to their diagnosis. This frustration often causes mesothelioma victims to take a stand and do their best to inform others about the dangers of asbestos and the risk of mesothelioma. This rare cancer has affected thousands of people, who have used their knowledge and experience to become effective mesothelioma activists. Doctors, researchers, and lawyers who are also invested in finding a cure and better treatment for mesothelioma have used their knowledge and insight to spread the word as well.
Bernie and Karen Banton – As one of the most recognizable faces in asbestos and mesothelioma care reform, Bernie Banton’s sincere activism has changed the way the world thinks about mesothelioma and its victims. Decades after being exposed to asbestos at a James Hardie plant in Australia, Mr. Banton was diagnosed with asbestosis, a non-cancerous condition caused by prolonged asbestos exposure. Months before his death in 2007, he was officially diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mr. Banton’s brother died from mesothelioma in 2001, which prompted his activism for the disease. Bernie Banton was recognized with a number of awards and honors by Australia, and was given a state funeral in December 2007. Even after his death, Bernie’s wife Karen continues to carry out her husband’s wishes to promote mesothelioma awareness around the world.
Jason Addy – Jason Addy, a member of the Save Spodden Valley activist group, initiated a 1,200 mile bike ride to raise awareness for mesothelioma and its victims in June 2009. Joined by two lawyers who also had an interest in mesothelioma law and victims’ rights, the group visited towns in England affected by mesothelioma and asbestos exposure prior to their ride. Addy’s group, Save Spodden Valley, fought plans to build homes and a day-care center on the land of a former industrial plant that had been heavily contaminated by asbestos. Another goal of Addy’s bike ride is to support and raise awareness for a campaign aimed at establishing a national center for asbestos-related diseases in the United Kingdom. More than 2,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
Indiana Victims – In late September 2009, mesothelioma victims from all around Indiana gathered at the state supreme court building to plead with a state commission, asking the court to amend a law and extend the statue of limitations granted to victims to file a lawsuit against the company or persons responsible for their condition. The current statute of 10 years is inefficient, as mesothelioma can take decades to develop. For many victims, it is too late to file a lawsuit by the time the cancer is finally found and diagnosed. Similar suits are occurring around the country each year, as mesothelioma becomes more mainstream and more people are being diagnosed with the fatal cancer. Victims in these states are also reaching out to the courts and advocating for change.
Bruce Vento – Former U.S. Congressional Representative Bruce Vento died of mesothelioma in 2000, but his fight still lives on. In 2008, Congress passed the Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act as an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The act places limits on the already tight asbestos regulations and seeks to eradicate it completely in the United States. The act will also help to fund public health programs aimed to provide asbestos education to the public. The Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award has also been established and is given to leaders, activists and researchers who are working hard to bring hope to the lives of those suffering from mesothelioma.