Posted on September 9, 2016

We have been touched by asbestos in individual ways, yet we are joined together by a bond of community. As a testament to the strength of our global family, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is highlighting the courageous stories of our members with the “Share Your Story” feature on our website.

This week, we would like to honor the story of Robert, as shared by his sisters Melissa and Suzy, who is a part of our ADAO family.

We encourage you to submit your personal stories by clicking here and following the simple instructions on the page. In sharing, comes healing. Remember, you are not alone.

“Our Family and Community is Devastated” – Robert’s Story

Name: Robert

Location: Wisconsin

Date of Birth: 1970

Diagnosis: Mesothelioma

Date of Diagnosis: 2015

Date of Death: 2015

How has asbestos changed your life? 

Melissa: On August 3 after several months of misdiagnosis, my brother Robert finally had an answer to his worsening pain, mesothelioma. A scan revealed several large tumors and a biopsy told us what it was. I knew from the first time mesothelioma was said that it was not a good thing. I immediately searched online and the prognosis was not good. But not our Robert, how could this be happening to him? He was only 45 years old! They had to fix it, somehow, someway we would get him better! After meeting with a local surgeon, our family was confident and so was the surgeon that she could remove the tumors. Fast forward to the day of the surgery and after opening up his abdomen, the mesothelioma was EVERYWHERE, like a thick sludge of oil, it covered all of his organs. The surgeon closed him up and said there was nothing she could do. I immediately started contacting mesothelioma specialists around the country and was frantically sending them Robert’s medical history, scans, surgery reports, and anything else they asked for. From that day forward we had several family members including his wife and children staying with Robert 24/7, we never left him alone. We had our surgeon speaking with them to see if there was anything, sadly the only thing any of the specialists could recommend was to try chemo to slow it down. Robert had one dose of chemo on August 31, I had spent most days at the hospital with Robert but this was the first night I stayed over in the hospital with him and truly saw the pain he was in. There were no results happening from the chemo. On September 7, 2015, 35 days after his diagnosis, I was by Robert’s side as he took his last breath. Our family and community is devastated by the loss of Robert, but most of all I cry for his 3 young children who will only know by word of mouth how wonderful their father was.


Suzy: I’ll never forget the day that my sister called me at work to tell me that our brother was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. This after months of trying to figure out why he was having so many digestive issues. This news was devistating to our very large and very close family. The future did not look good for him and the thought of him being gone in a year was heartbreaking. There were no specialists in our area and the initial surgery to remove the tumors that took over his body was not successful and an effort to make him comfortable was minimal at best. The year turned into months, then into weeks and when one doctor said days, we scrambled to inform family members that they were not continuing any treatment. We didn’t even get that, it was only a few hours later that he was gone. I was at the hospital but my sister was the only one with him when he died. We thought we had some time. We were always a step behind any options for him and I took off work as much as I could in that time to be with my brother at the hospital and with my family. His wife and other family members were there 24 hours a day. He had the kind of marriage that you read about in love stories and his loss has left an amazing wife, 3 kids, parents, siblings and community with a big hole in their hearts. All of this because of asbestos. Because of one fiber that invaded his body and caused this horrible disease. And it is still allowed in anything why?!? Love you Robert E Lea and miss you every day.

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