Mesothelioma cancer usually takes decades to show symptoms. Someone who was exposed in their twenties may not experience symptoms until they are in their sixties or seventies. There have been some tragic exceptions in recent years, however. There is the case of the the Deborah Reeve, a paramedic who was among the first responders on 11 September 2001; she began to show signs of pleural mesothelioma in 2003 and died of the disease three years later. There was also Amanda Satterfield, a young woman from Tennessee who was exposed to asbestos fibers in the cradle from her father's work clothes and died from perotineal mesothelioma at the age of 26.
They aren't the only ones. In early June, Austin Lacy – a high school senior at Pasadena High School – succumbed to pericardial mesothelioma while undergoing treatments at a Maryland hospital. More recently, during the first week of August, Boston-area online media reported that 21-year-old Kevin Morrison of Norwood had been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.
It is not known where or how these young people were exposed to asbestos fibers. There are still hundreds of thousands of buildings across the U.S. that still contain large amounts of the substance, including school buildings; teachers are among those who run a high risk of being among the 250-300 Americans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.
Here is the particularly shameful part of it, however. Let's allow the reporter to tell it in her words:
"Treatments have depleted the Morrison’s family finances and many of
the alternative treatments doctors recommend are not covered by insurance..."
As George W. Bush would say, "how uniquely American." Morrison’s family is now having to do fundraisers to pay for Kevin's treatments. This is what happens when big-money corporations are allowed to treat health care as a for-profit commodity.
This makes U.S. an embarrassment before the world and should be a source of great shame for all Americans – too many of whom continue to pound their chests, wrap themselves in the flag and decry the "evils of socialism."
All due respect to the late Irving Berlin, it is impossible for this writer to understand how "God" (whomever or whatever you consider that to be) could possibly bless any nation that is so utterly evil enough to allow 45,000 people to die ever year because of an inability to afford the same medical care that is acknowledged as a fundamental human right in every other industrialized nation – and compounding the tragedies of families like the Lacys and the Morrisons by enabling a corrupt, greed-driven industry to destroy them financially for seeking treatment for a disease caused by another corrupt and murdering industry.
I'm afraid I'm with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on this one. Any nation that allows its citizens to die for want of basic needs such as medical care for diseases, after allowing predatory industries to spew poisons like asbestos into the environment that caused those diseases in the first place – does not deserve the blessings of any deity.
The question is...how long are We, The People going to continue to allow this – and what are we going to do about it?
Favot, Sarah. "Friends Plan Fund-Raiser for Youth Diagnosed With Rare Cancer." Boston.com (http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/norwood/2011/08/fund_raiser_to_benefit_norwood.html). Retrieved 9 August 2011.
Melendez, Miguel. "Funeral Services for Austin Lacy to be Held Saturday." Pasadena Star-News, 8 June 2011.