Human Faces of Mesothelioma

Many fail to remember that asbestos victims are more than just names. They are people who have families, friends, and associations. mesothelioma touches many lives, not just the patient’s. Asbestos-caused diseases do not discriminate. They occur worldwide in all classes of people, in all age groups. Sometimes one must stop and pay tribute to those victims who unwittingly find themselves in the fight for their life through no fault of their own. Below are some of their personal stories: In KETTERING, UK, the Rt Rev Ian Cundy, Bishop of Peterborough, has been battling mesothelioma for 11 months. Now, even though treatments have kept the original tumor in check, the disease has spread to other parts of his body, and Bishop Cundy will have to undergo another round of chemotherapy to treat it. The bishop began his first round of chemotherapy over the Christmas holidays in 2007. As the leader of the Anglican churches in Northhamptonshire, Rutland, and Peterborough, Bishop Cundy’s fight with cancer has been followed by the Evening Telegraph.

In January of 2008, the bishop released a recorded message to be played to congregants at his churches. In it he said, “I hope that this recorded message will reassure you that you are still in my thoughts and prayers even though I cannot be around in the diocese as much as I would like.” By April of 2008, the Evening Telegraph was reporting that Bishop Cundy was doing well and beginning to take on more of his duties again, but by October 2008, the bishop had received word that the cancer had spread and another course of exhaustive chemotherapy would be needed. Bishop Cundy remains in the thoughts and prayers of the congregates of all his churches as he continues his fight. In TACOMA, WA, USA, a respected former high school teacher and coach’s life was honored following his loss against a nine-month battle against mesothelioma.

Born on February 17, 1940, Bob Ray Stewart passed away on September 25, 2008. Affectionately known as “Coach Stew” to players, students, friends, and family, Bob leaves behind a grieving widow to whom he was married for 46 years, Diana “Folino” Stewart. In addition to being a devoted husband, Bob was a loving father and grandfather. Now his son, Michael Stewart, and grown daughter Teresa Houser, son-in-law John Houser, and three grandchildren Hailey Maher and Hanna and Grace Houser, will have no father or grandfather with whom to enjoy the holidays in 2008 and for years to come. While he served as a baseball and basketball coach and teacher at Federal Way High School from 1970 until 1998, “Coach Stew” earned the respect of his students and colleagues. Following his retirement in 1998, he still remained an active member of his community as a substitute teacher and coach for his eldest granddaughter’s softball team. This all fell to pieces after Coach Stew was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early 2008.

A funeral mass in memory Coach Stew was conducted on October 4, 2008, and the family has requested that donations to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, (PO Box 91840, Santa Barbara, CA 93190-1840; 805-563-8400) be made to honor Coach Stew’s life and to seek a cure to this deadly form of cancer which robbed one Tacoma family of a husband, father, grandfather, and coach. If a cure can be found others will not have to die too soon of a disease that was not their fault. In WISBECH, UK, Valerie Taylor is now without her husband, Frank Taylor (67) due to his untimely death from mesothelioma on August 22, 2008. He was diagnosed with the disease in April of the same year, and his widow believes that his job as a demolition worker without protective clothing led to his cancer. At an inquest with the coroner, Valerie held that the dangers of asbestos were not known at the time her husband was working around them, but he came in contact with the toxic substance regularly during demolitions and cleanups.