Posted on February 20, 2018

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 Iva shared by her grandsons, Conor B. Lewis and Zack Johnson, who are 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.

“Dirty Laundry that Kills” – Iva’s Story

Name: Iva

Location: Illinois

Date of Birth: 05/18/1922

Diagnosis: Pleural Mesothelioma

Date of Diagnosis: 07/18/2012

Treatment: None, her age was too advanced.

How has asbestos changed your life? 

In 2012 our grandmother died of mesothelioma, a disease we had only ever heard referenced in late night TV commercials. At that time neither of us realized that mesothelioma had a direct cause, asbestos. Iva was 90 years old when she passed, it happened quite suddenly. We weren’t shocked at the time, rather the shock came when we learned just how she got mesothelioma. Our grandfather worked as a pipe insulator at the Shell Oil Refinery on the edge of the small town of Roxana, Illinois. Everyday he went to work and wrapped pipes in asbestos. When he came home our grandmother would take his dirty work cover-alls and shake them out in an attempt to keep her washing machine clean of this ‘dirt’ and ‘dust’. It was this service that eventually ended her life. When we learned of this story we decided we had to do something.

In 2016 we decided to devote the next two years of our lives to learning about asbestos and recording our experience in order to make a feature-length documentary film. That’s when “Dirty Laundry” was born. We were confused about what asbestos was and felt a strong sense of injustice with our grandmother’s story. With these thoughts in our heads we set off across the US by bicycle, meeting up with people who had been affected by asbestos in order to understand the problem better. We met with doctors, advocates and families of victims.

So how has asbestos changed our lives? It’s taken a family member we loved, but it’s also given us a new family of people who are fighting for the same goal – to end this problem once and for all so we don’t lose more people like Iva.

– Conor & Zack @asbestosmovie