Archive for Fevereiro 2013

Baron and Budd Files Class Action Lawsuit Against MHN Government Services and Managed Health Network Over Misclassification of Independent Contractors and Failure to Pay Overtime

SAN FRANCISCO –(October 3, 2012) –Yesterday, the national law firm of Baron and Budd filed a class action lawsuit against MHN Government Services, Inc. (MHNGS) and Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN) regarding the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and the failure to pay those employees overtime. Filed in the Northern District of California, the case alleges that MHNGS and MHN violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying lawful overtime wages. Baron and Budd attorneys Allen Vaught and Mark Pifko represent the plaintiffs in the case.

“These overtime violation issues are much more common than people think,” said Allen Vaught, head of Baron and Budd’s overtime violations/FLSA litigation section. “Many companies rely on the workers’ lack of knowledge when it comes to the FLSA and actively choose to misclassify workers in the interest of saving the business money by unlawfully dodging state and federal wage and hour laws, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and other state and federal requirements.”

MHNGS and MHN work at various U.S military bases as subcontractors to the United States Department of Defense. MHNGS and MHN hire individuals to work as Military & Family Life Consultants, or MFLC’s, in order to fulfill those governmental contracts.  Though the companies label MFLC’s as “independent contractors,” analysis of the workers’ job responsibilities revealed that the workers should be classified as employees under the FLSA. Because of this misclassification, the workers were not paid overtime even though they frequently worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Under FLSA definitions and exemption rules, these workers should have been considered employees and should have been paid overtime.

If you suspect that you, a friend or family member may have been misclassified by your employer as an independent contractor and were not paid all overtime wages required by law, please contact attorney Allen Vaught to learn more about your rights at 1.866.495.1255 or via email at avaught@baronbudd.com. Your initial consultation is free of charge and confidential.

Learn more about overtime pay violations, misclassification of employees, the FLSA and your rights in the workplace at http://baronandbudd.com/areas-of-practice/overtime-violations/.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with over 30-years of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com

Tagged Allen Vaught, FLSA, Overtime Violations


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Baron and Budd Announces Win in Overtime Violations Case Regarding Misclassification of Independent Contractors

DALLAS –(August 23, 2012) –The national law firm of Baron and Budd is announcing a victory for a group of mechanics in an overtime violations lawsuit. In the case, a group of mechanics were misclassified by their employer as independent contractors to avoid paying the workers lawful overtime wages. However, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), these workers should have been classified as employees, and thus should have been paid overtime wages for the preceding three-year period. The workers were represented by Baron and Budd attorney Allen Vaught, head of the firm’s overtime violations litigation section in addition to co-counsel, Ed Sullivan, of the law firm of Oberti Sullivan.

In the case, the group of mechanics, labeled “independent contractors” by their employer, was generally paid a flat salary. Even though the mechanics typically worked 60 hours a week, they were not paid overtime. Yet, under the FLSA, the mechanics should have been defined as employees rather than contractors. An agreement between an employer and a worker for the worker to be an independent contractor and not be paid overtime is not enforceable if the facts show that the amount of control placed on the worker really makes him an employee.  In other words, the right to overtime pay can never be waived by agreement of the employer and worker.  Based on these well established principles, a judge and jury returned a verdict that these mechanics were able to obtain their unpaid back wages plus a penalty known as liquidated damages for the employer’s violation of the FLSA in the lawsuit.

“Many workers may not realize they are due overtime pay, but this case shows that it is more common than people realize,” said Allen Vaught. “Even though your employer may call you an ‘independent contractor’ that does not mean that you are still not due overtime wages and damages because the right to overtime pay can never be waived – not even by agreement between the employer and the employee.”

Under the FLSA, independent contractors are essentially in business for themselves and do not rely entirely on a single business entity for their income and are therefore exempt from overtime pay.  Since many workers are not familiar with the specific aspects of the FLSA, they are unaware of the law’s definitions of an independent contractor compared to an employee.  Moreover, many workers do not realize that they cannot waive their right to overtime pay merely be agreeing to be labeled as an independent contractor.  What matters is what they actually do, not what the employer calls them.  Many businesses rely on that lack of knowledge to utilize unfair bargaining power and misclassify employees and avoid paying overtime wages.

If you think that you, a friend or family member may be misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, and therefore not paid all overtimes wages required by law, then please feel free to contact attorney Allen Vaught at 1.866.495.1255 or via email at avaught@baronbudd.com for a free consultation.

Your inquiry is confidential and the FLSA protects employees from being fired or retaliated against for investing possible violations.

Learn more about overtime violations, employee misclassification, the FLSA and your rights at http://baronandbudd.com/areas-of-practice/overtime-violations/.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com


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Scott Summy of Baron and Budd Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013

DALLAS—(September 18, 2012) –Scott Summy, shareholder at the law firm of Baron and Budd, has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013 in the area of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action for Plaintiffs. Summy heads the firm’s water contamination litigation section and has been named to the prestigious peer review publication every year since 2006.

“I am very honored to be recognized by my fellow attorneys in this prestigious publication,” said Summy. “Baron and Budd has always been dedicated to protecting people against corporate negligence, and I am proud to continue that tradition.”

Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most respected peer review publications in the legal profession. Each year, Best Lawyers compiles lists of the nation’s most prominent lawyers by conducting confidential and exhaustive peer surveys of leading lawyers throughout the country. 

Under Summy’s leadership, Baron and Budd’s water contamination practice has grown into one of the most recognized in the nation. Summy serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the litigation against BP for the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The PSC procured a historic settlement on behalf of numerous individuals and business owners who were harmed by the oil spill. Earlier this year, Summy negotiated a preliminary settlement in national atrazine litigation, the first of its kind in the country, that would provide $105 million to hundreds of public water providers struggling with atrazine contamination in their source water.

In 2008, Summy helped negotiate the first multi-jurisdictional MTBE groundwater contamination settlement in the U.S. Working on behalf of more than 150 plaintiff public water systems in 17 states, he served on the leadership committee that negotiated a $420 million settlement that would provide much-needed funds to clean up contaminated water. Baron and Budd was nominated for the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award from the Public Justice Foundation in 2009 for their work in this case.

Tagged Best Lawyers, Scott Summy


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Baron and Budd Selected to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ “Hot List” for Eighth Time

DALLAS –(October 2, 2012) – The national law firm of Baron and Budd was selected to the National Law Journal’s prestigious Plaintiffs’ “Hot List" for the eighth time since the list was established ten years ago. Each year, the National Law Journal requests nominations and completes an exhaustive analysis before selecting law firms for this legendary highly regarded honor. The annual list recognizes plaintiffs’ firms that have done exemplary, cutting-edge work representing people or entities harmed by corporate misconduct. Baron and Budd was one of only 19 firms selected for inclusion this year.

In yesterday’s announcement, the National Law Journal noted the breadth of Baron and Budd’s work, stating "the limelight for Baron and Budd stretched across industries during the past year — including a deepening of the firm’s role in financial-sector class actions." The announcement also highlighted two of Baron and Budd’s most significant and recent cases: the precedent-setting settlement in the BP oil spill litigation and a consumer class action against JP Morgan Chase & Co. Baron and Budd shareholder Scott Summy served on the BP oil spill’s steering committee that reached a $7.8 billion settlement with BP PLC in March 2012 and the firm sat on the plaintiffs’ executive committee in the Chase overdraft litigation, resulting in a preliminarily approved nationwide settlement of $110 million.

"I am so proud to be selected for such a distinguished honor," said Russell Budd, president and managing shareholder of Baron and Budd. "As a law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of anyone who has been harmed, it’s very rewarding to be recognized for our willingness to take on new and meaningful litigation on behalf of consumers who have been taken advantage of in so many ways.”

Baron and Budd remains at the forefront of litigation on a national scale. The firm continues to actively represent businesses and individuals harmed by the BP oil spill and consumers harmed by a number of banking fraud issues as well as maintaining its cornerstone practice representing victims of asbestos exposure.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with over 30-years of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com

Tagged "Hot List", National Law Journal


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Baron and Budd Files Overtime Wage Violations Lawsuit Against Sunbelt Rentals

DALLAS – (September 25, 2012) – Last week, the national law firm of Baron and Budd filed a lawsuit against construction equipment rental company Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. regarding alleged violations of overtime wage laws. The plaintiffs, who worked in two of Sunbelt’s retail stores, claim that: Sunbelt did not pay them adequate overtime wages as required by law and forced them to work off-the-clock before or after a shift, required them to work after-hours in the Sunbelt’s 24 hour emergency services operation without pay at times, and improperly deducted pay for lunch periods when they performed work. Baron and Budd attorney Allen Vaught represents the workers in the case.

“Many workers do not realize that their employer is not paying them fairly,” said attorney Vaught, head of Baron and Budd’s overtime violations litigation section. “Employers cannot force, or even permit, workers to perform work ‘off-the-clock’ or during lunch breaks without pay. Sadly, this tactic is more common than people might think by employers in an attempt to save money on employee wages.”

Sunbelt Rentals is a national chain with more than 300 stores across the country. Though this lawsuit represents a violation at just two stores, it is likely that similar violations have occurred at other Sunbelt stores. After investigation, Baron and Budd has found that virtually every position at Sunbelt retail stores may be affected, including customer service representatives, dispatchers, assistant store managers and drivers.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all hourly workers must be paid for all hours worked, including preparing equipment for the day or booting up their computers, and if the employer deducts pay for a lunch period, they generally must be given a full, uninterrupted 30-minute lunch period. If an employer violates the FLSA, workers can receive their unpaid back wages plus liquidated damages of double the amount owed. 

If you think that you, a friend or family member may have not been paid proper overtime wages while working for Sunbelt Rentals or believe your overtime wage rights are being violated by any employer, please feel free to contact attorney Allen Vaught at 1.866.495.1255 or via email at avaught@baronbudd.com.

Your initial case evaluation is free and confidential.

Get more information and the latest updates about the lawsuit on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SunbeltRentalsOvertimeLawsuit.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com


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Baron and Budd Attorneys File Class Action Against Abbott Laboratories Concerning Ensure Muscle Health and Ensure Clinical Strength Products

LOS ANGELES – (August 22, 2012) Baron and Budd attorneys filed a deceptive labeling class action lawsuit today against Abbott Laboratories concerning the company’s “Ensure Muscle Health” and “Ensure Clinical Strength” products.  The lawsuit alleges that Abbott Laboratories engages in deceptive and misleading practices in connection with the marketing of its products and charges the company with violations of multiple laws. The complaint was filed on behalf of Michael J. Otto of California and a class of similarly situated consumers across the country who purchased Ensure Muscle Health or Ensure Clinical Strength drinks. Baron and Budd attorneys Roland Tellis and Mark Pifko serve as counsel in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Abbott capitalizes on the fears of mature Americans who are worried about muscle loss, promising that drinking the products alone will “help rebuild muscle and strength naturally lost over time.”  To build consumer trust, Abbott touts the purported health benefits of these products with invented, pseudo-scientific terms such as “Revigor,” and proclamations like, the “#1 doctor recommended brand,” the lawsuit states.  As alleged in the lawsuit, to further establish credibility for the company’s claims, Abbot also uses phrases such as “clinical nutrition.” 

However, as alleged in the lawsuit, nowhere on the packaging of the products does Abbott disclose that the products cannot help rebuild muscle and strength in the general population of consumers to whom the products are sold — including in Abbott’s target market of healthy adults — unless the products are used in combination with a regular exercise program.  Instead, Abbott chose to selectively omit this material information from the labels for the Products to increase sales by inducing the general population of consumers who will not benefit from the products to purchase and consume them anyway, the lawsuit states.

“It’s hard to imagine a more personal affront than deceiving people about what they put in their bodies,” said Baron and Budd attorney Mark Pifko. “A sophisticated company like Abbott should be held accountable for knowingly confusing and misleading its  customers.”

Baron and Budd is a nationally recognized plaintiffs’ law firm with more than 30 years’ experience fighting to protect what’s right for consumers. The firm prides itself on remaining on the cutting-edge of meaningful litigation that protects consumers from negligent companies. Last year, Baron and Budd served on the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the Bank of America bank overdraft fee litigation that resulted in a $410 million settlement for consumers and forced Bank of America and other financial institutions to change overdraft fee policies. Since its expansion in 2011, the firm’s Los Angeles office has taken the lead on a number of high profile consumer lawsuits, including cases against companies in the banking, automotive and food product industries. 

To learn more about the Ensure lawsuit, visit the firm’s website at http://www.baronandbudd.com

Tagged Deceptive Advertising, Ensure, Mark Pifko, Roland Tellis


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Burton LeBlanc Elected President-Elect American Association for Justice

CHICAGO –(August 3, 2012) – Baron and Budd shareholder Burton LeBlanc was elected President-Elect of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) today at the association’s Annual Convention in Chicago. LeBlanc heads Baron and Budd’s Baton Rouge office where he focuses on environmental law and complex litigation.

"AAJ does incredible work on a national level to help protect the rights of Americans," said LeBlanc. “I am honored to be part of this prestigious organization’s leadership.”

LeBlanc is one of the very few attorneys nationwide to have been honored twice with the AAJ’s prestigious Wiedemann Wysocki National Finance Council Award, which he received in 2007 and 2010. This award honors lawyers for their commitment to the legal profession and their continued efforts to improve the civil justice system.

Though LeBlanc’s focus is on environmental law, he has also represented the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and Hawaii in consumer fraud lawsuits and complex securities fraud cases.

LeBlanc previously served as Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Parliamentarian of the AAJ, as chair of the AAJ National Finance Council, the association’s chief fundraising arm, and is a past president of the Louisiana Association for Justice (LAJ).

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com.

Tagged AAJ, Americ an Association for Justice, Burton LeBlanc


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Allen Vaught of Baron and Budd Selected as Texas Lawyer “Litigator of the Week” for Victory in Overtime Lawsuit

DALLAS –(September 11, 2012) –Allen Vaught, Baron and Budd attorney and head of the firm’s overtime violations litigation section, has been selected as this week’s “Litigator of the Week” by legal publication Texas Lawyer for his victory in an overtime wage violations lawsuit. In the case, Vaught represented a group of mechanics that were misclassified as independent contractors by their employer to avoid paying all overtime wages required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under this law, the mechanics should have been classified as employees, and therefore should have been paid overtime wages for the preceding three-year period. Co-counsel, Ed Sullivan, of the law firm of Oberti Sullivan, also represented the mechanics in the case.

“I am honored to have been selected as ‘Litigator of the Week’ by Texas Lawyer,” said Allen Vaught. “I am glad these guys got their day in court and were able to recover the wages they are owed by law. Most employees don’t understand the legal difference between employees and independent contractors, which can have a serious impact on a worker’s pay.”

The mechanics, called “independent contractors” by their employer, were generally paid a flat salary for their work on a weekly basis. Even though the mechanics generally worked 60 hours a week, they were not paid overtime wages. But under the FLSA definitions, the mechanics should have been labeled as employees of the company instead of independent contractors. Under the law, the right to overtime pay cannot be waived by an agreement between an employer and an employee. Based on these legal principles, a judge and jury ruled that these mechanics are allowed to obtain their unpaid back wages plus a penalty, known as liquidated damages, for their employer’s violation of overtime wage laws.

According to the FLSA, independent contractors are, essentially, in business for themselves and do not solely rely on a single business entity for their income and, therefore, are exempt from overtime wage laws. However, many workers are not familiar with the specifics of the FLSA and are unaware of the law’s definitions of an employee compared to an independent contractor.  In addition, many workers do not know that they cannot waive their right to overtime pay by agreeing to be called an independent contractor.  What matters is a worker’s actual responsibilities, not what the employer calls the worker. 

If you suspect that you, a friend or family member may have been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee and were not paid all overtime wages required by law, then please contact attorney Allen Vaught at 1.866.495.1255 or via email at avaught@baronbudd.com. Your initial consultation is free of charge and confidential.

Learn more about overtime pay violations, misclassification of employees, the FLSA and your rights in the workplace at http://baronandbudd.com/areas-of-practice/overtime-violations/.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, unsafe drugs and medical devices, Chinese drywall, deceptive advertising, consumer financial fraud, securities fraud and asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma. http://baronandbudd.com


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Baron and Budd Sponsors Gala Celebration of Hope Dinner at 2012 Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Symposium

WASHINGTON, D.C (July 10, 2012) – This week, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation will hold its 9th annual Meso Foundation Symposium, a conference for the mesothelioma community, including patients, families, medical experts and asbestos advocates.  The event will feature presentations by experts in the medical field, question and answer sessions, and a chance to meet elected officials who are influential in asbestos-related policy.

The three-day event kicks off Wednesday evening with a Celebration of Life memorial ceremony for family and friends who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma. The following two days will be filled with discussions on the latest medical breakthroughs, fundraising efforts and caregiving techniques.

Representatives from Baron and Budd, one of the first law firms to successfully handle a mesothelioma lawsuit, will attend the Gala Celebration of Hope Dinner Thursday, July 12. The firm is a proud sponsor of the dinner and reception. Dr. Axel Hanauske and Rich Mosca will speak at the event.

Dr. David Sugarbaker, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, will be receiving the Pioneer Award at the dinner. Dr. Sugarbaker founded the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) at Brigham and Women’s, one of the largest programs of its kind. The IMP offers clinical, research and support programs, with a clinical focus on developing treatments that can significantly extend the lives of mesothelioma patients. Baron and Budd was a cornerstone donor Executive Advisory Board member of the IMP.

Other awards being given are the Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award to Bonnie Anderson and the Volunteer of the Year Award to Janice Malkotsis and Erica Lacono.

The Meso Foundation, formally known as MARF, is a national non-profit organization committed to ending the suffering caused by mesothelioma.  It provides comprehensive educational, social and medical resources to patients and families with the disease, helping them to obtain the most up-to-date information on treatment options and to connect with mesothelioma treatment specialists, providing them assistance, emotional support and community with others.

To find out more about the 2012 Meso Foundation Symposium and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, visit www.curemeso.org

The national mesothelioma law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. has been “Protecting What’s Right” for asbestos sufferers and their families for nearly 40 years. As one of the first law firms to successfully litigate an asbestos lawsuit, Baron & Budd continues to actively represent veterans, industry workers and others who are suffering as a result of exposure to asbestos. Contact Baron and Budd at 1.866.855.1229 for additional information on mesothelioma treatments, mesothelioma cancer doctors and treatment centers and mesothelioma attorneys.

Tagged Asbestos, Mesothelioma & Asbestos, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation


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Baron and Budd Proud to Be a Finalist for Public Justice “Trial Lawyer of the Year Award”

CHICAGO –(August 1, 2012) –The national law firm of Baron and Budd, P.C. is honored to have been selected as one of four finalists for the Public Justice Foundation’s prestigious 2012 “Trial Lawyer of the Year Award” for its work on national litigation surrounding bank overdraft fees. In these cases, Baron and Budd took on banking giants Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and others. The firm’s efforts, along with those of other national law firms, are credited with forcing the banking industry to change its policies regarding overdraft fees. This is the third time in the past five years that Baron and Budd lawyers have been selected as finalists for the prestigious award. The winner was announced last night at Public Justice’s Annual Gala and Awards Dinner in Chicago.

“I am proud that Public Justice honored our firm as a finalist,” said Russell Budd, president and managing shareholder of Baron and Budd. “We congratulate the lawyers in the Missouri case that helped hold Fluor Corporation accountable for exposing children to lead poisoning for being honored with this award.”

This prestigious award is given out each year by the Public Justice Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the courtroom doors open to Americans who have been harmed by corporate malfeasance. The organization’s “Trial Lawyer of the Year Award” honors the lawyer or group of lawyers who have made the most significant contribution to the public interest through successful precedent-setting litigation.

Baron and Budd was one of the chief negotiators in the bank overdraft litigation against national banking giant JP Morgan Chase, which resulted in a $110 million settlement and forced Chase to change its overdraft fee practices to benefit Chase customers. As part of the settlement, Chase also agreed not to charge overdraft fees on transactions of $5 or less. The firm was also one of the leaders in the litigation surrounding the $410 million settlement with Bank of America, which forced the bank to change its overdraft fee policies in favor of consumers and helped set the standard for similar changes at other banks. Litigation against several other banks surrounding the overdraft fee issue is ongoing.

The overdraft fee litigation focused on the banking industry’s deceptive overdraft fee practices, which were set up to intentionally maximize the number of fees charged to consumers. Before litigation forced them to change, banks would routinely rearrange debit card transactions from highest to lowest dollar amount to deplete funds more quickly. Under this method, customers incurred excessive overdraft fees.

Baron and Budd previously won the “Trial Lawyer of the Year Award” in 2007 for the firm’s outstanding work on the groundbreaking TCE groundwater contamination case in Tucson, Arizona, a 21-year legal battle that helped define Arizona water pollution law. The firm was nominated in 2008 for its work on the national MTBE water contamination litigation, which resulted in a precedent-setting $420 million settlement with some of the nation’s largest oil companies.

The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with a 30-year history of “Protecting What’s Right” for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as water contamination, Gulf oil spill, Qui Tam, California Proposition 65 violations, dangerous medications and medical devices, Chinese drywall, insurance claims, commercial litigation, consumer fraud, securities fraud and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma. Learn more about the mesothelioma attorneys at Baron & Budd.


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Staying Mentally Strong in the Face of Cancer

 A cancer diagnosis is not only extremely physically demanding for a person as they begin treatment; a diagnosis is also very challenging mentally as well. For a patient beginning their journey through their disease, 20+ year cancer survivor, author, and CEO and President of The Cancer Club, Christine Clifford provides 9 tips to stay mentally and emotionally strong.

1. Take four steps forward: speak with an surgeon, an oncologist, a radiologist and a psychologist. These four people can help you get moving in the right direction.


2. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. In adverse situations, you always learn who your friends are, and who they aren't. Leave the ones that are not supportive behind. Embrace the ones that are.


3. Realize that your life will never be the same. But that doesn't mean you won't have a good life or a better life. It just means it will be different. The sooner you can embrace your cancer, the sooner you will be able to move forward.


4. Research all the possibilities. Read books, visit the internet, and listen to tapes on the topic of cancer, but also on topics such as fear, serenity, hope, overcoming obstacles.


5. Do something special for yourself. Treat yourself to something that will make you feel pampered: a massage, a change in hair color, buy a new outfit, or take a trip.


6. Don't beat yourself up. Instead, ask yourself, "What am I supposed to learn from this challenge, and how might I do things differently?"


7. Find Happiness. Remember: YOU are the source of your happiness; not somebody else. A positive attitude will help tremendously in getting through your treatments.


8. Learn to forgive. Harboring negative feelings will only slow down the progress of moving forward. Gather the tools and skills to find forgiveness through your church/synagogue, counseling, books and tapes, family and friends.


9. Don't forget to laugh!TM Laughter is still the best medicine!


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How to be an Encouraging Caregiver Part 1: Communication and Empathy

 

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance recently spoke to Dr. Richard McQuellon, the Director of the Psychosocial Oncology and Cancer Patient Support Programs at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, to hear his expert advice on how to be the most encouraging and empathetic caregiver. In part one of a two part piece, Dr. McQuellon explains why open communication and empathy can be some of a cancer patient's strongest medicine when it comes from their caregiver.


Each day thousands of people become caregivers. For most, this new role is neither easy nor comfortable. While it may sound cliché, most find one of the biggest challenges to be effective communication between the person providing care and the one receiving it. Despite the best of intentions it is not always easy to communicate well under these circumstances, or find deep empathy for something one has never before experienced.


I believe that open dialogue must not be avoided until the last minute when opportunities will be limited, but that caregivers and loved ones can embrace this time, mortal time, honestly as a way to sensitively and compassionately engage with those for whom a central fact of life is realized -- that all of our lives are time-limited. My book, The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness, discusses how to be an encouraging caregiver and friend under the most difficult circumstances, when the possibility of death is all too real.


For caregivers and recipients, everyday conversation can become both more important and more complicated, especially when one of the partners has been diagnosed with cancer and has entered what we refer to as mortal time— the emotional experience when one becomes aware of their own mortality. The personal assumptions and histories of patients and caregivers set in motion a rhythm of conversation between them that has the power to generate consolation and hope for both. Healing conversation has two basic requirements. The more deeply we accept both, the richer the communication that will result.


The first is to listen carefully to grasp our partner’s take on things; let him or her know that we “get” what’s happening as he or she feels and sees it. Understanding another means seeing a situation from his or her point of view. Empathy is one word for such understanding. To empathize is to grasp both the events and the feelings conveyed through another’s story, to make a disciplined effort to set aside our thoughts and feelings and walk in the other’s shoes for a time.


The events are the facts of the conversation, as delivered in words. Feelings signal emotional tone and intensity. Feelings are usually expressed by how words are spoken, including nonverbal signals, and are much more complex than any transcript of words can capture. Empathy requires both attentive listening and appropriate eye contact to fathom the content and feelings of a patient’s communication. Caregivers who are empathetic invite the possibility of hope-creating conversations.


Empathy is a quality and specific behavior that allows one to enter the world of another. The experience of receiving empathy can put people in touch with their own voices, in touch with themselves. It is a skill to put feelings of compassion into action. First, we must grasp what the other is going through and how they feel about it. Then, we must convey understanding; let them know that we “get it.” Sometimes we can simply reflect back what we have heard in the simplest language possible; sometimes words are unnecessary and a compassionate nod of the head or touch of the hand is sufficient.


Empathy can be powerful medicine for several reasons.

Caregivers who are good listeners can gain new insight by hearing themselves (and others) talk about a situation. Often, caregivers who listen empathetically can clarify their own assumptions.Clarity of a situation can lead to problem-solving, either through complex existential questions (why is this happening to me?) or practical decisions (whether to wear a wig or a scarf for a head covering). Putting experience into words can open up new understandings and possibilities.Extending empathy allows the speaker to confide. Before rushing to speak or resolve an issue, pause. This isn’t easy. Most of us have a natural tendency to relieve the suffering of another by responding quickly, but this can shut off or interrupt feelings just at the moment they need to be expressed.Allow the speaker to name his or her fear; this is the first step toward mastering that fear. Mastery can bring relief, even if only temporarily.We are human. While we cannot directly experience the life of another, we can do so indirectly through the quality of our empathy.

Listening deeply and responding with empathy brings us as close as we can get to forms of suffering that we have not experienced ourselves. With a rare cancer such as mesothelioma, vicarious experience is limited, but real.


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Richard McQuellon, PhD, is professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology and Director of the Psychosocial Oncology and Cancer Patient Support Programs at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He received a BS in Psychology from the University of Washington, Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University and has over 20 years of clinical experience working with cancer patients and their families. His clinical work involves survivorship planning from diagnosis though end of life and the psychosocial care of patients undergoing extreme cancer treatments including stem cell transplantation. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation and has published over 125 abstracts, journal articles and textbook chapters. He is currently on the editorial board of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.


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Thoracic Oncologist Dr. Jack West Joins the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

 

Hi, folks.


My name is Dr. Jack West, and I’m a medical oncologist specializing in thoracic oncology at Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, WA. Over the next year, I’ll be covering a broad range of topics related to malignant pleural mesothelioma; one of the cancers I treat, as well as speak and write about for the cancer community. Though it’s a relatively uncommon cancer in the US and around the globe, my corner of the country actually has the highest per capita incidence of mesothelioma. This is primarily because of the many shipyards in our area where people are exposed to asbestos, and our center has emerged as one of the leading places in the country for management of mesothelioma.


By way of background, I was an undergraduate at Princeton University before traveling to the University of Cambridge in the UK for a Fulbright Scholarship. There I received a masters degree in Experimental Biology. I then returned to the US to attend Harvard Medical School, where I did additional research as a medical student fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Following my graduation, I trained at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for my internal medicine internship and residency, then moved to Seattle to do my medical oncology training at the University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. There, I developed an expertise in lung cancer and mesothelioma and continue to focus in these fields today as Medical Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Swedish Cancer Institute, the largest private oncology center in the Pacific Northwest.


I look forward to bringing you information that can help you understand the leading options that have proven to be beneficial in managing malignant pleural mesothelioma, as well as discussing current clinical questions and emerging research options. Together, the educational resources available here should help enable people to become active participants in their own care.


-Jack West


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The Chemo Question: An Alternative to the Potentially Challenging Standard

 

This morning in our thoracic oncology tumor board discussion, we reviewed a case of a 72 year-old man who is now diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) that is too advanced to consider surgery, and who is rather debilitated from emphysema and other longstanding medical problems. The best studied treatment for MPM is the chemotherapy combination of cisplatin and Alimta (pemetrexed), which has a proven survival benefit compared with cisplatin alone1. But cisplatin is an older chemotherapy agent that is notoriously challenging for even many fit patients to tolerate. This raises the question of whether there might be an alternative approach for patients who are unlikely or unwilling to tolerate the anticipated side effects of a cisplatin/Alimta combination, which often include nausea/vomiting, possible kidney damage, hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling from nerve damage), and sometimes other issues not typically seen with carboplatin. The data from a large European registry2 provide reassurance that the generally better tolerated combination of carboplatin/Alimta can provide comparable benefit for patients who are not candidates for the standard cisplatin-based regimen.


The report available describes the experience of a total of 1704 patients with confirmed and unresectable MPM who received Alimta with either cisplatin (in 843 patients) or carboplatin (861 patients) in an expanded access protocol that made Alimta available to appropriate patients and collected data on how patients fared on this treatment. Despite the median age of the carboplatin/Alimta group being 4 years older than the recipients of cisplatin/Alimta (66 vs. 62), the efficacy of the carboplatin doublet was completely comparable to that of the more established but more challenging cisplatin/Alimta combination. Specifically, carboplatin/Alimta and cispatin/Alimta were associated with a nearly identical median time to progressive disease (6.9 and 7.0 months, respectively) and overall survival at one year (64.0% vs. 63.1%, respectively), with just a relatively modest difference in the response rate on imaging (26.3 vs. 21.7%, respectively).


It is important to note that this isn’t a true randomized trial, so it isn’t a pure comparison of nearly identical groups. There may be differences in the patients who were recommended to receive carboplatin or cisplatin, but one would expect that the bias would be that the more fit patients were more likely to receive cisplatin, while patients felt less likely to be able to tolerate the standard treatment of cisplatin might have been recommended to receive carboplatin instead. In fact, the four year difference in median age, with younger patients more likely to be assigned to receive cisplatin, is consistent with this idea. But this would only be expected to bias results in favor of the cisplatin/Alimta recipients if they were more likely to be younger and more fit. Despite this presumed bias, those receiving carboplatin performed just as well.


Another important point is that the results in this “real world” expanded access protocol were every bit as good, and in fact in many ways a little better, than the results in the well-controlled randomized trial that led to the approval of Alimta as a treatment for MPM. This illustrates that both the cisplatin/Alimta and carboplatin/Alimta treatment strategies are both feasible and effective for MPM in less selected patients than those eligible for the controlled trial – that regular patients and presumably those with more medical problems can still benefit from these chemotherapy combinations.


My personal preference is still to favor cisplatin/Alimta as the preferred and better studied combination for patients I believe are well enough to tolerate it. But when faced with the common scenario of a patient who is not a strong candidate for the potentially rigorous FDA approved combination, I’m happy to know that an acceptable substitute has been demonstrated in hundreds of patients to provide a very comparable utility for MPM.


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REFERENCES:

Vogelzang NJ, Rusthoven JJ, Symanowski J, et al. Phase III study of pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin versus cisplatin alone in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. J Clin Oncol 2003; 21: 2636-2644.Santoro A, O’Brien ME, Stahel, RA, et al. Pemetrexed plus cisplatin or pemetrexed plus carboplatin for chemonaive patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Results of the international Expanded Access Program. J Thorac Oncol 2008; 3: 756-763.

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Stories of Survival: Jan Egerton

 

Today we are very excited to welcome Jan Egerton to the MCA blog to share her incredible story. In catching up with Jan on Facebook, she graciously offered to answer some common questions that all of you in the community often ask. We are happy to share her answers full of strength and valuable information. To connect with Jan, read her blog at Jan's Journey.


How did you find out you had mesothelioma? Did you have symptoms, or a random chest x-ray? Do you know how you were exposed to asbestos?


I had suffered with endometriosis for a long time. Having a hysterectomy in 2000, I thought all my pain in my left side would go and I could start living again. My first major ‘Meso Session’ hit in the October of 2000. I had had earlier warnings covering the previous 2 years, but nothing like this.


I couldn’t breathe without feeling like my lung was sticking to my ribs. The pain was terrible across my back, left ribs, and chest. I was diagnosed with viral pleurisy, as it seemed to diminish in a day. These events continued every 3 months and by 2002 I had pain that lasted longer than a week at a time, but nothing was found. I was sure I had endometriosis in the lung and finally found a doctor who would listen to me. In the September of ‘03 I was shown my MRGI scan. The radiologist had taken a freeze frame of my chest region, which showed white spots right across it. The conclusion was endometriosis and I was started on various hormone treatments. By January 2004 I was never pain free; my back, neck and left side hurt constantly. Finally I was given a walk-in clinic access to a chest physician, as the pains were now constant. After a few more months of having x-rays, in the August of ’04, he sent me for an exploratory operation where the surgeon used Video Assisted equipment. I was told I had mixed mesothelioma, which I didn’t understand, and that I probably had less than a year to live.


In the January of ’04, asbestosis was being advertised by solicitors on TV looking for people who could make claims. My father would say, “I am sure I have that, we worked in it all day.” So all I can presume is it came from my Dad’s overalls. Although, once I was diagnosed, he never mentioned it again. I think he felt guilty for what was happening to me.


What treatment did you have, and what stage were you in when treatment started? What is the prognosis now?


I think I was very lucky being diagnosed when I was. My surgeon had done a remarkable job in taking every bit of mesothelioma out of my chest. In those days, a pleurectomy decortication wasn’t heard of, but he had removed quite a portion of the pleura as well as two large tumors from my lung. Although I was not informed at this time, I had mesothelioma. I was quite ill after this operation and needed to go back for further surgery as my lung was bleeding and I couldn’t breathe. Three weeks later, I went back and had a pleurodesis. On the 26th of August, my husband and I were led to a small side room and told the news. I was totally shocked to hear what I thought was going to be a rare form of endometriosis was actually a terminal cancer. My surgery was followed by radiotherapy treatments on the 3 drain sites, but following that there was no other treatment and I was given some information on palliative care.


In the December of ‘04, Premetrexed had 3 trial places left in the Northeast and I was offered a place. I was so pleased, thinking this would certainly keep me cancer free.


Unfortunately, the cancer returned in early 2006. I think the doctors didn’t really want to hear this, as there was nothing they could do then. It took them another year to acknowledge I was right and the mesothelioma was growing. I suffered a lot of heart pain this time too. By the time I re-challenged with Premetrexed and Carboplatin, the mesothelioma had grown to over 2 cm from a clean start. It doesn’t sound like much but if you encircle your whole lung with 2 cm your volume becomes a lot less. I also had various larger tumors, one of which was causing a lot of pain above the kidney.


Unfortunately, the chemotherapy didn’t hold the cancer back longer than 4 months. I was now in the unknown and looking for treatments. I found cryoablation and flew to the United States where I had 2 treatments in 2008. In January 2009, I finally went in for the pleurectomy decortication\EPP surgery in Sheffield, UK. The operation was some 9 – 10 hours and, until it was over, I wasn’t sure what I would come out of surgery with. I lost my pleura, pericardium and diaphragm. I have always been lucky at recovery speed and came home 11 days later. Unfortunately my left lung would not stick and I came home with drain insitu, hoping the air leak I had would shrink. I really believed this time I had finally won the battle.


In the April of ‘10 I knew something was wrong and on my CT Scan 3 small tumors appeared. My mesothelioma began to grow once again. I patiently waited a year and in April ’11, I flew back to the States and had another round of cryoablation on the largest tumors. Killing 3 tumors made me feel a lot better, even though I knew others were sprouting around the lung. Getting rid of 3 felt like a victory over the mesothelioma.


In September ’12, I knew the mesothelioma had once again attacked my pericardium. I was having night sweats more frequently and a heavy pain in my heart region; a slow aching that turns to acute pain. My next CT scan confirmed thickening and fluid around the heart, together with slow multiple growths around the lung.


I began a re-challenge of Premetrexed and Carboplatin in November, but my body had a severe allergic reaction when I was receiving the 2nd dose. Now I am in no man’s land. I am not allowed to have Carboplatin and I know from previous experience that the Premetrexed doesn’t do much without the Carboplatin, having had to drop the Carboplatin in my 2007 re-challenge.


You ask about staging. In the UK, we don’t tend to use staging as much as they have seen some diagnosed with T2 die long before someone diagnosed with T4N. It seems mesothelioma doesn’t play by any rules.


How do you feel this experience has affected your family?


It was a shock to us all. My dad died from a stroke shortly after I was diagnosed and my mother just couldn’t cope. The longer I have survived, the better my brothers do. The main person it has affected is my husband. It is and has been extremely hard for him to handle. At first he seemed to lock it out and not want to talk about it with me, unless we had an appointment. But as the years have gone on I bring it up more and more. He won’t get involved with any organizations or go to any meetings that have anything to do with mesothelioma. We went to one in ‘05 at Newcastle. Everyone there was a widow or widower and he didn’t want to see that. He wanted to see hope, not death.


Over the years I have made decisions about what treatment route to take next, I don’t worry about the outcome or the “what if I die while doing this?”, but my husband does. After every treatment (the worst being surgery), he was the person who looked after me, put me back together, and motivated me to get back to health. I guess because of him I do these things. I don’t want to ever be without him.


At times I am sure my mesothelioma has affected his life more than my own.


You are an important and inspirational Meso Warrior. How do you stay so positive?


Being positive all the time is impossible, although I am lucky to be able to continue working as this gives me an escape from cancer. My mind can’t cope with two things at once anymore, so when I work I am totally focused on my job.


My outlet for anger, as I never want to burden my friends or family with it, is my blog. I found a circle of friends in the same situation through the blog and their contact has helped me stay positive. After quite a lot of pressure from some of them I have finally submitted to joining Facebook, and that can help you stay positive when you read others have come as far and are still going strong.


How has meeting the other Meso Warriors changed your life?


Meeting others with mesothelioma gives you hope. Hope that all our voices are reaching out and making changes to legislation about the use of asbestos. Our numbers are increasing, which is sad, but researchers now have to look into a cure. Becoming a part of a whole bigger picture with Facebook and coming to terms with how many more people are diagnosed today than ever before worries me.


I enjoy supporting the cause and doing the occasional TV interviews or newspaper articles to get the word out. People are still quite ignorant of the damage asbestos can do, until it actually involves someone in their own family. I have to admit; in 2004 I didn’t really know anything about what asbestos could do.


Helping each other is a heartwarming experience, I may be a long term survivor that gives hope to someone just setting out on this journey, just as other Warriors have given me hope. We are all working towards to same goal, find something to turn terminal into chronic, take our death sentence away, and stop causing others to go through the same health risk.


What is the best advice you would give to someone just beginning his or her battle with this disease?


Make notes about how you feel. Keep records of tablets, aches, and pains. These will help you in future years and also help your oncologist.


Find a good oncologist who has some, if not a lot, of understanding about mesothelioma. If they think it’s just another cancer, then find someone else.


Listen to what treatments they have to offer. Weigh up how fit and healthy you are. Can surgery be one of the last treatments you can do, or is it the first to aim for? Many still believe the doctor should be the driving force in directing what treatment route to take. If the doctor is experienced then listen to him. I’ve had to pretty much guide my own treatment over the years and it becomes tiring. You must remember every step of the way that this is your life you are putting into someone else’s hands. You must trust them and have a good relationship if you are letting them guide you.


Research everything. The internet is the starting point. Do not believe articles that say “we can cure you of mesothelioma with our new tonic.” It doesn’t work. Read articles on healthy eating; some alternative foods and therapies can help. You know your body. Get to understand which pains are what. When you go through chemo you will notice which pains have gone but unless you write them down you will never remember them all.


I know it sounds weak but do stay positive. Don’t dwell on having a death sentence – look at it as an early warning signal. Go out and enjoy life, don’t spend it worrying from one appointment to the next. Easier said than done, but you have to - otherwise you will spend your life feeling down and depressed.


I remember between radiotherapy and chemotherapy having a week’s holiday. I did the same between cycle 1 and 2 of my first chemotherapy. You know when scans are due, so in between ensure you are making good memories. When in treatment, try and plan the times you won’t be on treatment. Above all be your normal.


Lastly, if you are making a legal claim, do it early into your diagnosis.


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The Treatment Dilemma: Assessing Response in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

 

Among the many challenges of managing malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is reliably assessing the response of the disease to our treatment. We don’t want to discard a treatment that is effective, nor do we want to have patients continue on a treatment that isn’t helpful but is causing significant side effects. In oncology, we typically grade our work by comparing an imaging study like a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the chest done after 2-3 cycles of systemic therapy (usually covering a 6-9 week interval) to a baseline scan performed prior to the start of treatment. As you’d suspect, significant tumor shrinkage is good, while growth is bad, and stable disease is somewhere in between. Typically, we want to continue our treatment in the absence of significant progression or prohibitive side effects.


So why is it so difficult to measure response in MPM? Unlike most solid tumors, MPM doesn’t typically appear on scans as a well circumscribed sphere that can be easily measured. Instead, it appears as a rind around the lung, often with irregular contours, sometimes areas of benign plaques from asbestos exposure, and collections of pleural fluid filling the cavity between the outside of the lung and the inner chest wall. Patients who have undergone a palliative pleurodesis, an intervention in which there is deliberate inflammation within the pleural space in order to cause scarring and close off that space (and thereby prevent fluid from filling there), will typically have marked thickening in that area that represents inflammation and scarring (the desired effect of the pleurodesis) that can be remarkably difficult to distinguish from active cancer.


There are various ways to contend with the challenges of measuring response to treatment for MPM. First, metabolic/functional imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) scanning along with fused CT images is often employed, as it can be instructive to see the level of metabolic activity decrease or increase as an indicator of response or progression, respectively, particularly when the thickness of the rind of tissue thought to represent MPM is not obviously increasing or decreasing in thickness. It is worth noting, however, that a pleurodesis is also expected to transiently increase PET activity in the pleural space in the weeks and perhaps even months after this procedure is performed, so it is necessary to be cautious about interpreting changes in PET uptake that have developed following a pleurodesis. Another clue can come from changes in a patient’s symptoms: many patients with MPM will experience chest wall pain from their underlying disease, and changes in a patient’s symptoms are another helpful indicator of the direction that the cancer is moving in when imaging is notoriously ambiguous. Finally, a blood test such as levels of soluble mesothelin-related proteins (MSRP) can potentially serve as a serum-based indicator that the cancer is responding or progressing.


Ideally, we would hope to have a test for assessing treatment response in MPM that is widely available and well validated. We are limited in the relative infrequency of the disease, with patients treated in a wide range of settings with varied levels of expertise in interpreting imaging results that are often ambiguous and complex. In this setting, it is often necessary to accept greater ambiguity, to be pleased to see an absence of convincing progression, and to utilize additional clues such as the trajectory of a patient’s cancer-related symptoms and potentially serum-based testing such as MSRP levels to provide greater direction as we do our best to make good judgments about the value of the treatment being administered.


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My Wife Has Cancer: Becoming a Caregiver

 

Becoming a caregiver started the moment my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. Like many others, my wife and I were not prepared for the news she had cancer. A little over three months prior to my wife’s cancer diagnosis, we had celebrated the birth of our only child, our daughter Lily. We had assumed we would be settling down to our new lives as parents, not dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis shattered our lives.


Even before we left the doctor’s office, my responsibilities as a caregiver were becoming apparent. The doctor had informed us Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma. He went on to explain a bit about the cancer and then gave us three choices of where we could go next to fight the cancer. My wife was in tears from the news she had cancer. She listened to the doctor’s three choices and was silent. I waited for her to ask a question; to say something, but she was silent and still stunned from the news. I looked into her eyes to see what she was thinking. The look in her eyes said “God help me!” I looked over at the doctor and said “Get us to Boston” and with that, I was a caregiver.


My wife and I had different reactions to her diagnosis. She was stunned and in a state of shock and disbelief for a little while. I was mad! Anger would be my primary emotion for months. This was not supposed to be happening to me. I was supposed to be celebrating the birth of my daughter and adapting to life with her, not dealing with cancer. My life went from predictability to chaos in a moment. I frequently found myself feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I had little control of my life. Of all the events I have ever experienced, this was the most uncomfortable and helpless I had ever felt, and anger was how I dealt with it all.


Anger, denial, bargaining—we all deal with stressful situations differently and being a caregiver can be very stressful. My anger was at its worst when my wife and I went to Boston for treatment under Dr. David Sugarbaker. When angry, I would lash out at all who were around. I lashed out to people who were trying to help and I have seen this in others. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were trained to deal with anger in others. They had seen this before and I’m sure they have seen it since.


Be aware of your emotions and don’t let any one of them overwhelm or control you. I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable enough to offer any sure fire solution to overcome any overwhelming emotions. For me it took some patient people and time. I needed to time to realize my anger was so strong that it inhibited my ability to make decisions and it pushed those away who were trying to help. I felt like I couldn’t get anything done when I was angry, and it took a lot out of me. I hated how I lost control to anger.


While there are many things about my wife’s cancer that make me angry, I am no longer consumed by this emotion. I have made a decision to live not in fear, but to remind myself how precious each day is. I find I am both happier and more productive now that I am no longer in anger’s grasp. I hope that for all those who find themselves overwhelmed with anger, fear, denial, bargaining, or any other emotion that they find a way to move on. You will be happier and better prepared to be a caregiver and deal with all that life throws at you.


-Cams


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How to be an Encouraging Caregiver Part 2: Finding the Right Words

 

In part 2 of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance's interview with Dr. Richard McQuellon, Dr. McQuellon offers expert advice on how honesty is paramount to an open and loving relationship between a patient and a caregiver. Finding the right words to say to a loved one battling with cancer is already a difficult task, and when compounded with a rare cancer like mesothelioma, honesty is the best policy for open and effective communication to continue during this tough time.


The second requirement of healing conversation is to respond thoughtfully and honestly. Our conversations reveal what we think, feel, believe, desire and question. Healing conversations require that we put into words our response to what we have heard. But there are two obligations; we must call things as we see them while maintaining profound respect for our conversation partner.


Anyone taking relationships seriously feels the tension inherent in honest, loving speech. Something may be true, but that doesn’t mean it will always be well received, no matter how tactfully you put it. For example, it may be true for some patients that “chemotherapy is very hard” or that “a particular type of cancer almost always comes back,” but saying that to a person may likely be misguided honesty, perhaps revealing a caregiver’s discomfort more than delivering necessary information.


Truthful conversation is a process best informed by experience, compassion and wisdom. While the requirements of healing conversation are simple— namely, to listen and respond— the communication process itself is a complex matter of mutual interpretation of facts and feelings. Caregivers may find that accurate interpretation and skillful use of language are acquired over many years and will surely be tested in challenging times.


Finding the right words can be difficult. Not knowing what to say is an important concern for caregivers accompanying someone in pain, coping with a cancer diagnosis and being treated for a life-threatening illness. Most people have little practice at this, and even experienced professionals are often at a loss for words. Words can seem hollow. Consequently, we feel inadequate, don’t know what to say, or when to say it, and may avoid the topic of what’s happening to our friend or loved one altogether because we simply can’t find good words. Even if we find the right words, can we then make them words well spoken?


As mentioned before, effective conversation requires responding thoughtfully and truthfully. Many caregivers get stuck on “the right thing to say.” Sometimes there is no need for words – just having an attentive presence and a caring silence is all that is required.


Words can take strange twists during times of illness and pain, and not only for caregivers. Patients often search for the right time and the right words to speak the truth. Often, they are aware their honesty will lead to suffering. When someone trusts you to share his or her emotions, remember the importance of responding thoughtfully.


Not sure what to say? When offered honestly, these phrases or questions may comfort:

I am with you in this.You can count on me.Can you tell me how you’re holding up?How can I be useful?

Stated with genuineness and empathy these phrases invite further conversations rather than closing off meaningful dialogue. A person who listens carefully and responds thoughtfully with simple, direct statements like these has the power to help lower the emotional distress.


Whatever the details of a life-threatening illness, and however great the differences in backgrounds, roles and responsibilities of those communicating about it, authentic conversation has the power to enhance how people cope. Talking honestly and listening well can illuminate and enrich the meaning of life for caregivers and people living in the sacred place of coping together.


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Richard McQuellon, PhD, is professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology and Director of the Psychosocial Oncology and Cancer Patient Support Programs at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He received a BS in Psychology from the University of Washington, Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University and has over 20 years of clinical experience working with cancer patients and their families. His clinical work involves survivorship planning from diagnosis though end of life and the psychosocial care of patients undergoing extreme cancer treatments including stem cell transplantation. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation and has published over 125 abstracts, journal articles and textbook chapters. He is currently on the editorial board of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

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Coping with Cancer: The Importance of Family

 

A cancer diagnosis is a difficult and life changing situation for anyone. Often when people receive the news, their families gather around them for support. Some try to underplay the importance of family and claim that the patient needs to create a better mental space for him or herself. However, the role that family plays in a cancer patient’s life is simply undeniable.


One of the most basic roles of the family members is to be a source of support. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, one of the thoughts that certainly will run through their mind is the possibility of death, dying young, and leaving loved ones behind. This is where family members can step up with open communication to let the patient know that they are all going to fight through together. Making sure to talk a lot about feelings of both the patient and family members will help ease stress and make a patient feel supported. Despite any fear, the ability of loved ones to remain strong can inspire a patient. If they can remain strong, then the patient feels that he or she has not lost hope yet.


Going through cancer treatments, whether they are weekly visits for chemotherapy or taking medications, is strenuous on a person's body. Nausea, tiredness and weakness are all signs that can be associated with the treatments and with the disease itself. Family member can become involved with a patient’s care by bringing them to appointments and assisting in creating care plans. At home, loved ones can create warm and welcoming spaces for the person to come back home to. For a person with cancer, thinking about dealing with the consequences alone can be terrifying. When they arrive home after their treatments or are in the hospital, seeing their family members can help them to feel better. They know they have someone who is going to advocate for them and take care of them in their times of need.


Family is also important because they can help engage a patient in their normal activities. Some assume that all cancer diagnoses mean that the patient can no longer do the hobbies and pursuits that they used to do, but this thought is simply not the truth. For example, adult children can make sure their mother with cancer is still able to make it to church, or a couple who has a child with cancer can still take her to her Girl Scout meetings.


It's all going to depend upon the actual state of the individual person and their diagnosis, but families can work together to make the best possible situation and keep hope alive.

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Cancer Patients: Turn Your Treatment Focus to Nutrition

 Nutrition is an important part of preventing and fighting cancer. When cancer patients focus on nutrition, they build their natural defenses and fight disease naturally. Even vitamin C therapy is being considered as a way to fight cancer. Though the treatment is experimental, it shows how advanced the body is in repairing itself with nutrients it needs. Especially with rare cancers like mesothelioma, treatments may be limited so consider how these nutritional changes or inclusions can help to fight cancer.

Studies have shown that a diet high in antioxidants can help to fight and prevent cancer. Antioxidants fight free radicals and protect cells from damage. Antioxidants can be obtained through fruits and vegetables. The most effective antioxidants include lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A.


It is recommended for people suffering from cancer to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables. Kale, collard greens, mixed greens and spinach are recommended for fighting cancer. If arthritis is also an issue, collard greens and kale are better choices than spinach, which is not recommended for people suffering from arthritis. Water retention may occur near joints such as knees and ankles. Carrots, tomatoes, oranges, pumpkin, corn, broccoli, nuts, mangos and soybean oil are recommended for cancer.


Tea, especially green tea, is thought to be effective in preventing and controlling cancer, but the American Cancer Institute does not recommend tea. Caffeine may be the reason why. The polyphenol compounds and catechins are antioxidants that are suspected to be effective in cancer prevention. The studies have been inconclusive, but there is strong evidence that leads experts to believe that the tea can be effective in healing cancer.


Garlic is suspected to reduce the risk of developing cancer in the gastrointestinal tract, but the extent to which it helps is unknown. Garlic helps with numerous ailments in addition to cancer prevention. If high cholesterol is a problem, garlic will help to lower the levels, and it also prevents colds from developing.


Nutrition is important for any patient who is fighting cancer. Without proper nutrition, cancer patients will feel fatigue and may develop aches and pains that they would not otherwise. Cancer patients should work with their physicians to develop the proper regimen because there are so many things that could negatively affect cancer.

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Advocate of the Month - January 2013

 The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to take a moment to thank Nayeli Baltazar, the Advocate of the Month for January. Nayeli has been an active member of our Facebook community and continues to help spread the message of the MCA, while lending her support and knowledge to other people affected by cancer. Below is an interview with Nayeli on how Mesothelioma affected her and her family’s lives and why she continues to spread the message the of MCA.

MCA: Has cancer affected you in some way? If so, in what way? Tell us about your experience.


Nayeli Baltazar: Yes cancer has affected me, as well as my family. My father was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2011. We all felt heartbroken when we got the news.


MCA: How has this shaped you as the person you are today?


Nayeli: I've learned more about cancer, especially mesothelioma. I've also learned to be more compassionate with people who are ill. I took things for granted never imagining it would be my family having to go through this.


MCA: If you were affected by cancer, what are the two biggest things you learned through this experience?


Nayeli: I learned what mesothelioma is and its risks. I never really knew anything about mesothelioma, I just remember seeing those commercials on TV. I've also learned that family is everything and we should always cherish all the moments we have with them because we never know when something bad may happen to us.


MCA: What was your motivation to become the MCA Advocate of the Month?


Nayeli: My motivation was and is my hero-- my father. Even at his sickest days, he maintained strength and had so much faith. He gave me so much good advice. I wanted to share his story so people can learn about mesothelioma and see that even after his loss, our family stands strong.


MCA: If you could say one thing to the world about cancer or mesothelioma specifically, what would it be?


Nayeli: I would say do your research on it. You will learn a lot about any type of cancer. A lot of people are dying from this disease and most of us don't even know what it really is.


MCA: Is there anything else you would like to say to the MCA community?


Nayeli: If anyone has questions about anything, I'm more than welcome to try and answer them. Also, if anyone needs help with anything, I'm also available maybe I could be of help; my family is also open to it.

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Advocate of the Month - February 2013

 

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Kayla Hammons, the Advocate of the Month for February. Below is an interview with Kayla about how mesothelioma affected her stepdad Ron and her way of life. Kayla has been active in our Facebook community and continues to support others affected and spread the message of MCA.


MCA:Has cancer affected you in some way? If so, in what way? Tell us about your experience.


Kayla Hammons:My stepdad Ron was my hero. He was the strongest man I knew. In January of 2012, he began to have chest pains. We thought he was having a heart attack. He had smoked for years and had just celebrated his first year with no smoking. As the months went on, he became worse. He started to have leg pain, which the doctor attributed to fibromyalgia. The VA hospitals ran test after test from CT scans to nuclear scans and found nothing.


We finally took him to St. Francis Medical Center. They found that he had a softball size lymph node in his abdomen. It took 3 times before they would actually hospitalize him. The oncologist there ordered a needle aspiration. He said Ron's symptoms went along with lymphoma, which is one of the easiest cancers to fight. When the tests came back, my parents went to Dr. Sobti. He told Ron that he had 6 months to live. He didn't know what kind of cancer Rob had, no one did.


My mom and Ron immediately asked for a second opinion. We went with another oncologist. I knew he needed someone special to take care of him. I found Dr. Wong who specialized in rare cancers and we got an appointment. We thought this would be it. In the meantime, Ron wanted to do things naturally, so we bought every cancer fighting vitamin and immune system booster in the store. My mother began to work nights, so I took the responsibility to take care of him at night. By this time, the tumor on his esophagus made it to where all he could eat was smoothies. One night, he asked for a smoothie. As I walked back to hand it to him, he looked me straight in the eyes and asked, "who are you?" I hope I will never feel that hurt again. When I walked back into the room, he asked, "where have you been?" I never knew if he knew who I was.


By the time the new appointment came, we prepared him for the drive. Dr. Wong was so nice and intelligent. He looked at us and said "you have mesothelioma". At the time we didn't know what that was. Dr. Wong wanted Ron to get into the hospital to get his numbers up and start chemo. While he was in the hospital, he and my mom got married and I was a witness. That was June 1. The morning of June 3rd he began to have trouble breathing. He died that morning with close family around him.


MCA:How has this shaped you as the person you are today?


Kayla:Since Ron's death, I've had to grow up tremendously. At 20 years old, I've learned so much in the months since. He taught me to accept people for who they are. I now know that special people come into our lives rarely. Don't take them for granted.


MCA:What was your motivation to become the MCA Advocate of the Month?


Kayla:My mom and I have wanted to get Ron's story out so that it could maybe help someone going through what we did. I believe that getting his story out for people to hear will keep his memory alive.


MCA:If you could say one thing to the world about cancer or mesothelioma specifically, what would it be?


Kayla:Mesothelioma is a killer. I feel it is the worst kind of cancer because often times you don't know until it's too late.


MCA:Is there anything else you would like to say to the MCA community?


Kayla:I would like to tell the MCA that we are all linked by this horrible disease and that if we all work together, mesothelioma won't have a chance.

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6 Ways for Cancer Patients to Stay Positive in the New Year

 With the new year here, this month is filled with people making resolutions, some often too taxing to keep up throughout the year, but all with good intentions of bettering oneself. For a cancer patient, their life may feel too controlled by their diagnosis to make many changes or resolutions. There are many ways for cancer patients to make small, positive changes in their life that can help their health and outlook on their disease and life. The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance spoke to a few members of the team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America who gave us 6 excellent ways for cancer patients to make 2013 a year of positive thoughts and actions!

Everybody has stressors, but if you can do one thing to feel less stressed and more in control, that will help. For example, you can clean up some clutter which will give you a sense of control and help you stay positive.

­ Sit down and imagine something positive that could happen to you in 2013. Imagine you are better and it might help you feel better.Do things that make you feel good and help you stay positive. Add some music to your life. If you listen to uplifting music if can help you feel better. Watch programs that have an uplifting message, whether they are dramas or comedies. Be with friends that make you feel good. Make it a point in 2013 to connect with people who you want to get to know better or spend time with old friends that help you stay positive.­ -Steve White, Director of Mind-Body Medicine

Think about one small physical activity you can do to improve your health and that will help improve your outlook on life. A daily walk is a great place to start.

­ -Jane White, Director of Rehabilitation Services

When people are rested they feel better and have more energy to have a positive outlook on life. Take naps ­ even for just 10 minutes it will help you stay refreshed and relaxed.

­ -Dr. Shauna Birdsall, Director of Naturopathic Medicine

Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible, with as few added ingredients as possible. Eating foods in their natural state can help your body feel less sluggish from digesting heavily processed foods. It can provide your body with more energy to accomplish things and therefore can lead to a clearer mind.

­ -Stephanie Paver, Clinical Oncology DietitianShare any of your resolutions or positive changes you will be making with our community!

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5 Places Asbestos is Hiding in Your Home

 Thinking of getting wrist deep in a home DIY project you saw on Pinterest? Still using an ancient appliance from your first apartment because it seems to be just as good as new? While many of us may have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, some of your best money saving ideas can pose a serious health risk. Within your home and other unexpected places like schools and appliances, asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, can linger.

Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products. As a well-known fire resistant and durable product, asbestos use was heavily regulated in the late 1970s after it was discovered to cause cancer. However, many buildings and products may still contain asbestos; here are 5 shocking places where asbestos can be found in your home:


If you’re using a crock pot handed down to you from who-knows-where, you may want to consider replacing it with a new model. Prior to regulations, crock pots used in the lining between the outer and inner pot to retain heat, as well as in the power cord to prevent electrical fires. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, was the most common of the six types of asbestos used in appliances. While exposure to chrysotile asbestos is less likely to cause cancer, it is still a toxic substance.


Around the late 1970s when asbestos was being regulated, a consumer report showed that many hair dryers manufactured domestically were emitting asbestos fibers. While at the time U.S. manufacturers agreed to discontinue the use of asbestos in their products, the manufacturing of almost all hair dryers has been outsourced to foreign manufacturers where the environmental regulations on asbestos are few or non-existent.


Another common household appliance that was found to contain asbestos is the popcorn popper. The devices use an electrical element that heats the air to pop the popcorn and, for some manufacturers, asbestos was used in the electrical element. Much like crock pots, asbestos may have also been used in the power cords as a heat insulator. Similar to hair dryers, popcorn poppers manufactured overseas could potentially still contain traces of asbestos in their product.


Baby powder contains talc. Talc is a mineral that is mined around the U.S. and was often found to have the presence of tremolite asbestos within it. While many domestic manufacturers have taken safety measures to prevent levels of tremolite in their mined talc to later be used for cosmetic products, foreign manufacturers tend to have less environmental regulations on asbestos use and allow contaminated products to enter the country.


When it comes to taking on a new DIY project at home, consider the age of your home if you’re pulling down sheetrock, lifting flooring, or removing a popcorn ceiling texture. Many older building materials contained asbestos for its durability. With asbestos fibers put into these products, the materials would last much longer. However, today with the link to mesothelioma cancer, a homeowner should consult the advice of a professional contractor or asbestos abatement company before potentially exposing oneself to this dangerous carcinogen during a renovation project.


There are many other places throughout your home where asbestos can be found hiding. Be sure to consider the year of your home or appliance that you’re inspecting for asbestos-containing parts, as well as where the materials were manufactured. Limiting your exposure risk to asbestos in your home can help prevent the chances of you or a loved one developing an asbestos-related disease later on in life.

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4 Tips To Not Let a Cancer Diagnosis Define You

 

Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the scariest things that a person has to deal with. Regardless of your age, gender, or religion, cancer doesn't discriminate. All of the unknowns, millions of questions, and constant uncertainty can consume the mind and really affect a persons well being. It is important to not let a cancer diagnosis define you and cause you to lose interest in the things you once loved and lose sight of your hopes and dreams. Here are some tips to keep in mind and help guide you:


Don't allow your cancer diagnosis to take over who you are and what you enjoyed doing before finding out you have cancer. As long as you are able to, make time for your hobbies. If you enjoy doing crafts and creating DIY projects, be sure to make that a priority on your schedule. If reading novels is something that makes you happy and you are well enough to do so, be sure to include it in your daily routine.


When going through this difficult time it is not uncommon for your mind to be bogged down with things like what will happen at your next doctor's appointment or when your next round of treatment will be. It is important to keep your friends and family close. Spending time with loved ones may be just what you need to aid you in keeping your mind in a positive and hopeful state.


One of the most powerful feelings that a cancer diagnosis can bring is fear. Its important try to let go of fear and all of the "what if's" that a person may be thinking upon being diagnosed with cancer. Living every moment and embracing every single day can really have a positive effect on your mind and body. Focusing on positive thoughts will help put you in a place of hope and optimism.


Being diagnosed with cancer shouldn't be a reason to stop following your dreams. Regardless of your age, if you have hopes, dreams and goals for your life and your future, don't lose sight of them. Whether your goal is to be a writer, to start your own business, to earn a college degree, or to travel the world. Don't let a cancer diagnosis put those dreams to rest. Continue to stay on track and try your best to think of your diagnosis as a bump in the road.


A cancer diagnosis is not something that anyone expects to receive from his or her doctor. But if it does happen, it's important to not let cancer consume your entire life and take over everything that was. Take these tips into consideration and remember; you were you before you had cancer and you will continue being you after cancer.

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Treatments, Thanks & Traditions

 

I love social media! Through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I've been able to communicate with literally hundreds of people throughout the world. I especially love it during the holidays, because it gives me a glimpse into the traditions and lives of my new friends. Traditions are the rituals we all do year after year and carry on generation after generation without question. We just do them "because it's always been this way".


When Cams and I got married, we decided to start our own traditions. I think every married couple does this because you need to make something your own. Those early years, we didn't really do much outside of go for a drive to look at lights and have crab legs for Christmas Dinner. We always celebrated Christmas Day with just the 2 of us. We often talked of the days to come when we would have kids about how we would handle the holidays and what traditions we would start.


When I was diagnosed with mesothelioma just after Lily was born, we didn't have the time or energy to start any new traditions that year. We just numbly plodded through the holiday. We did our best to try and make it special for Lily's first Christmas, but we could not ignore the shadow of mesothelioma looming over us. I still feel a little melancholy every year when I put her “Babies First Christmas” ornament on our tree.


Through the next few months following surgery and treatments, the holidays were upon us again. I was finished in all my treatments and we decided to celebrate Christmas in a big way that year. We had MUCH to be thankful for. We started a new tradition of my parents coming out to our home for the holiday, instead of us going to my childhood home. They know the importance of starting one’s own traditions and they wanted to continue to be a part of Lily's life. That year, my mom and I baked tons of my favorite cookies and Lily was old enough to (sort of) help. We still do this every year when she arrives.


We also started a tradition called “Elf on the Shelf”. It is a little elf that Santa sends to the house to be his special helper. He keeps an eye on Lily and reports back to Santa at the North Pole every night. When he returns the next day, he is in a new spot. It didn’t take Lily long to catch on that the elf “moved” around every day. She would jump out of bed every morning in December to go find Filbert, as this was what we named him. Last year, Filbert was lost so a new elf came to “watch”. His name is Filmore, Filberts brother. Filbert was found half way through December and arrived with a note from Santa. Now Lily has 2 elves that get into mischief daily. We’ve had great fun with those elves this year and so did the many friends on Facebook whom we shared the pictures with! We didn’t even really mean for it to take off like it did, but Lily love seeing what crazy things they did every day. And now, it is probably our favorite part of the Christmas festivities.


We spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s family and Christmas Day is for my parents, Lily, Cams, and me. It is perfect. My dad, being the amazing cook he is, made us a prime rib dinner that first year and that tradition we carry on still. The meal he cooked this Christmas has been the best yet!


In our family, we've started another yearly tradition; it has nothing to do with Christmas, but everything to do with my cancer diagnosis. I had my surgery to remove my left lung on Feb 2nd, 2006, that day has been forever named "Lungleavin Day" in our world. Our tradition started in 2007, Cams and I built a small fire in the back yard and had a small Lungleavin Day celebration. We bundled up against the -4 degree temperature, wrote our fears on a plate, and proceeded to smash those fears into the fire. We have celebrated in much the same manner since that first one, except we have turned it into a huge celebration shared by many more people. It's the tradition around it that gives it meaning. Much like prime rib is our traditional Christmas meal, we have a traditional "food" for Lungleavin Day-- sloppy Joes, and gourmet cupcakes! People have come to know that is what is served, along with a lot of other food, but always sloppy Joes and gourmet cupcakes at the center. It is something we continue to do, year after year. This year will mark 7 years since my surgery and we are planning another big celebration with friends and family from all over.


Cameron and I have brought together traditions from his childhood, my childhood, and have made our own. I'm sure over the next many years, we will continue to add new ones or strengthen the ones we already observe.


I hope your holiday, no matter what you celebrate, is filled with rich traditions and you make up new ones to pass along, just as we have done. May 2013 be filled with blessings and thank you all for being part of my new life!

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World Cancer Day 2013

 

Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day. Tag your loved one who is fighting, has survived, or has lost the battle to cancer on our Memory Candle and SHARE it to keep the flame burning!


Last year, the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance shared this photo via Facebook in support of World Cancer Day and received over 18,000 likes and was shared over 220,000 times. This year, we hope to continue to share our virtual candle to support World Cancer Day and spread awareness for victims, survivors, and loved ones affected by mesothelioma.


World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) as a day for raising awareness for all types of cancer to encourage education, detection, treatment, and prevention. This year’s mission of World Cancer Day is focused on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration—to dispel the myths and misconceptions about cancer. These myths are:


Myth 1) Cancer is just a health issue.
Myth 2) Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries.
Myth 3) Cancer is a death sentence.
Myth 4) Cancer is my fate.


This year on February 4th, tag your loved one who is fighting, has survived, or has lost the battle to cancer on our candle and SHARE it to keep the flame of our Memory Candle burning!

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