Mesothelioma Claims the Life of Air Force Veteran

A veteran of the United States Air Force and retired maintenance worker has died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

Ronald Bogerman, 71, died in November of the fatal cancer, which is caused by exposure to the mineral material asbestos. Asbestos was once prized for its insulating and fireproofing capabilities, but can lead to respiratory illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lungs’ outer linings.

Bogerman, who had served in the U.S. Air Force, worked as a maintenance worker for the Holland Christian Home. He may have been exposed to asbestos in both of these capacities, since asbestos use was prevalent in the military. Maintenance workers who deal with plumbing systems, electrical systems or building materials such as ceiling tiles, wallboard, flooring or underlayment may also breathe in the microscopic fibers which comprise asbestos, as the material is commonly used in those items.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, diagnosed in only 3,000 new patients yearly in the United States, but it is also an aggressive and incurable cancer. Surgery to remove the tumor is not usually possible, and even chemotherapy and radiation are not particularly effective. Patients who suffer from mesothelioma have only a six to 18 month life expectancy.

The symptoms of mesothelioma are often similar to the symptoms of other, more common respiratory illnesses, such as emphysema and bronchitis, and can include shortness of breath, difficulty or pain when drawing a breath, coughing, persistent chest, back or rib pain, and unusual fatigue. Anyone who has a history of working around asbestos and who is experiencing these symptoms should consult with their health care practitioner. As with many cancers, early detection provides the best chance for successful treatment of mesothelioma.

Bogerman’s family have requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, an organization which strives to develop better diagnostic and treatment methods for this form of cancer.

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