Posted on February 28, 2015
It feels like yesterday when I attended my first Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in 2004, as I was seeking medical information for my husband, Alan. Alone, isolated and in pain, I joined others with similar tragic experiences. There was an unspoken language between us and immeasurable compassion. I returned home with more than a binder of information; I left with a new family of friends.
Since 2004 I have attended every symposium and am excited to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, hear about the clinical trials funded by MARF, and learn of advances in treatment. We all know the most effective weapon we have in the fight against asbestos is our solidarity in advancing education, promoting advocacy, strengthening community and, of course, increasing funding for a cure. I am humbled as I reflect on receiving MARF’s 2011 Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award and remember standing side by side Larry Davis as he too was honored. Larry Davis was “one of the most courageous mesothelioma patients I ever have met,” and a true mesothelioma warrior, using his diagnosis to evoke meaningful change in so many lives.
There is still time to register for MARF’s International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma co-hosted with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MARF continues to bring amazing experts and the mesothelioma community together. As we grieve the loss of our loved ones and friends, it is healing to be together with others who understand. As Queen Elizabeth II said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
The wonderfully deserving 2015 MARF honorees are:
- The Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award: James A. Grogan, Jr., International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (formerly Asbestos Workers)
- The Pioneer Award: Valerie Rusch, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- The Klaus Brauch Volunteer of the Year Award: Miriam Ratner
- The Compassion Award: Father George Winchester, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- June Briet & Jocelyn Farrar Outstanding Nurse Award: Joanne Redondo, UPMC Cancer Center