My brother-in-law passed away last month. He was a kind man. A retiree, he volunteered many hours with the Boy Scouts of America. The local Boy Scout District has honored his memory with a scholarship that will send two scouts to Boy Scout Camp. He spent quality time with his step-children and grandchildren. A good, kind man who believed in serving the community and taking care of his family, he did both with quiet dignity.
He worked for Pacific Gas and Electric before his retirement. He was the one they sent out late at night when there was a problem, traveling long distances and long hours.
He was a Vietnam Vet, serving as a machinist on a carrier. He died from Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that affects the lungs and the lining of the chest. It is difficult to diagnose. The first indication he had of the problem was a severe pain in his side. It took a while to arrive at a diagnosis. It is important to determine the type of cancer in order to plan an effect attack on the disease, and that requires several tests. He went through radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the hope that the disease could be slowed down. But it was not successful.
Mesothelioma is not curable. There hasn’t been any research on the disease for the past forty years. The on-set is quick. It often masquerades as other ailments making it hard to identify, but early detection does not stop the inevitable. It is a painful disease. Pain medication helps, but it, too, takes a toll.
My brother-in-law had very high exposure to asbestos. On the carrier, the mens’ quarters were directly under the asbestos-wrapped pipes. When the guns were fired, asbestos dust rained down on the men. The guns went off day and night, particularly in the Mekong Delta. The association between exposure to asbestos and Mesothelioma has been known by the companies that produced the product since 1935, and yet no action was taken to protect those who had to work with asbestos.
It is so sad that such a good man should have had such a terrible, unnecessary disease.
I’ve capitalized Mesothelioma, not out of respect, but out of fear.