Pasadena, TX—A former pipefitter, lawyer, police commissioner and Civil Service Commission member has died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Quincy A. James had beat the odds twice before, having overcome polio when he was a child and then, later, beating a diagnosis of metastasized prostate cancer in his 50s.
James was diagnosed earlier this spring with mesothelioma, a cancer which is associated with asbestos exposure. Asbestos, which was once considered a miracle fiber because of its ability to withstand heat and fire, as well as its strength, flexibility and ability to be woven into fabric or added to other building materials, such as cement, has been phased out of use since the 1980s. It is known as a carcinogen, and can lead to several different diseases, including mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which usually targets the lining of the chest cavity and lungs, called the mesothelium. It results from inhaling the microscopic asbestos fibers, particularly when the exposure occurs repeatedly or over a prolonged period of time.
James’s family believes that he came in contact with asbestos when he was a pipefitter in the 1950s. Pipefitters, who come in contact with asbestos insulation, are one of the occupational groups that is at risk for developing mesothelioma. Because the disease has such a long latency period between the time of asbestos exposure and the manifestation of symptoms, it can be extremely hard to diagnose. Additionally, the symptoms of mesothelioma are often very similar to those of other respiratory diseases, and by the time the cancer is diagnosed, it has usually progressed to a later stage.
James, 76, was an attorney for much of his career. In 1962, he was elected to City Commissioner Position 2, which positioned him as police commissioner overseeing the city’s law enforcement services.
He died just four months after his mesothelioma diagnosis. Currently, there is no cure for the cancer.