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Mesothelioma is a disease that, until recently, was uncommon and little was known about it. However, as cases of the disease have started to increase, a new breed of lawyers – those dealing specifically with mesothelioma lawsuits – have stepped in to the limelight. These lawyers and law firms deal, sometimes exclusively, with mesothelioma victims and their families who wish to claim compensation from the companies that were responsible for their exposure to asbestos. These mesothelioma lawsuits provide millions in compensation for the victims and a commission for the lawyer or law firm.
Those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have every right to file a lawsuit. Many of the companies responsible for exposing their employees to asbestos were well aware of the dangers and effects, but still saw fit to let their workers continue with little or no protection against the dust and fibres that emanated from this hazardous material. Now, decades later, the effects of this exposure is taking its toll on the workers just as they reach or are enjoying retirement. Quite rightly, the workers want to see justice done in the form of compensation, although this will never make up for the pain, suffering and loss of life that many of them have been sentenced to.
There are now many mesothelioma lawyers to choose from, and the number of specialist lawyers and law firms that deal with lawsuits filed by victims of this disease is on the up. Many of these lawyers have dealt with numerous mesothelioma lawsuits and have a good deal of experience and knowledge about the disease. Those looking for a mesothelioma lawyer should hunt around for someone that has proven experience in the field. Most reputable lawyers will be only too happy to provide facts and figures on pervious cases. They cannot, of course, name names and intricate details as this would be a breach of confidentiality. They can, however, provide you with details on how quickly cases were resolved, how much compensation was successfully obtained and how many mesothelioma lawsuits they have dealt with.
It is also worth finding out about the mesothelioma lawsuits that were not successful, and why they were not successful. It may be something as simple as a missed piece of evidence to failure to comply with timescales that made the difference between and successful and unsuccessful claim for compensation. By finding out why some lawsuits resulted in no compensation, you may be able to avoid making the same type of mistake.
It is important that you find a good, experienced mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after you have been diagnosed with the disease. Most states have a set time limit in which you can file your lawsuit, and it is very important that you do not miss that deadline otherwise you may find that you are ineligible to make a claim. You also need to give your lawyer as much time as possible to do the necessary research and put together a solid and watertight case. So, the earlier you get to a mesothelioma lawyer, the better your chances of success.
Many people are concerned because they do not know exactly where and when they were exposed to asbestos. Some people may have worked in several different places and been exposed to asbestos, making it difficult to pinpoint who was responsible. However, your mesothelioma lawyer can help. If necessary, your mesothelioma lawyer will hire the services of a private investigator (for which the law firm will foot the bill) to find out where the exposure took place. With some research and digging, the lawyer is generally able to pinpoint the company or companies responsible for the exposure and can then put together you case.
Again, this can take time and is another reason why it is so important to find a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after the diagnosis of the cancer has been confirmed. Understandably, patients who have just been told that they have mesothelioma will have a great deal on their minds and filing a lawsuit may not be one of their priorities. However, the timely process of selecting a lawyer and filing your lawsuit can make all the difference between a multi-million dollar compensation claim to secure the future of your family once you are gone, and getting nothing at all for your pain, suffering and loss of life.
Financial Assistance, Compensation, and Legal Rights
Because malignant mesothelioma is related to asbestos exposure, many people with the disease have questions about whether or not they can be compensated. There are several potential sources of financial assistance and/or compensation for people with mesothelioma.
People are often surprised to find out that the largest amounts of compensation typically available can be recovered from the asbestos industry. These awards are often large enough to provide financial security for families. There are law firms who handle such cases on a contingency fee basis which does not require out of pocket cost.
Social Security Disability
Patients can also file a disability claim with social security. (It's advisable to consult with an attorney that specializes in such claims.)
Many people can also file a disability claim if they have disability insurance either privately, through their employer, or as part of a life insurance policy.
If asbestos exposure occurred on the job, in addition to claims against the asbestos industry, a worker's compensation claim or other types of legal action may be filed against an employer. Again, it is advisable to consult with an attorney handling worker's compensation claims. It is prudent to consult also with an attorney handling claims against the asbestos industry to make sure the various claims do not conflict with your optimal strategy.
For More Legal Information
To find out more information or to see some questions commonly asked about mesothelioma legal issues, call 1-800-998-9729.
For people facing large medical bills and hospital stays, most hospitals have Discharge Planners or other personnel who can assist with issues of medical coverage and hospice. There are also laws that allow patients to take legal action against their insurance company for unfairly denying them coverage for medical treatment.
Coping with Cancer
Mesothelioma Aid - http://www.mesothelioma-aid.org offers excellent advice for living with cancer, including sections on emotional coping and physical coping with mesothelioma. The website also outlines common health insurance plans and offers information on paying for your medical care in a section on financial planning for mesothelioma patients.
Mesothelioma -LEADING CANCER LINKS
Listed below are links to other cancer resources on the Internet that have information about mesothelioma.
American Cancer Society - http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute - http://www.cancer.gov/
University of Pennsylvania’s Oncolink -http://www.oncolink.upenn.edu/
Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.org/
Intellihealth - http://www.intelihealth.com
American Institute for Cancer Research - www.aicr.org
American Thoracic Society - www.thoracic.org
Canadian Cancer Society - www.cancer.ca
ChemoCare - www.chemocare.com
Mesothelioma Aid - www.mesothelioma-aid.org
Sometimes people with serious illnesses would like to speak with others in the same situation. The following organizations attempt to match people with similar situations looking for mutual support.
Anderson Network (cancer)
Phone : 1-800-345-6324 (Toll Free)
The Anderson Network, part of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Center in Houston has a database of 700 cancer survivors.
Cancer Hope Network (cancer)
Phone: 1-877-HOPENET (Toll Free)
Cancer Hope Network has a database of 325 patients representing 45 cancers.
Med Help Int'l Patient Network (all illnesses)
Mesothelioma - Mesothelioma Web, Mesothelioma Cancer - Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs. Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles.
The mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells: One layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs) to glide easily against adjacent structures.
The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body. The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most of the organs in the abdominal cavity. The pleura is the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. The pericardium covers and protects the heart. The mesothelial tissue surrounding the male internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis. The tunica serosa uteri covers the internal reproductive organs in women.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium) is a disease in which cells of the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without control or order. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also metastasize (spread) from their original site to other parts of the body. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleura or peritoneum.
How common is mesothelioma?
Although reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years, mesothelioma is still a relatively rare cancer. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women and risk increases with age, but this disease can appear in either men or women at any age.
What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing cancer of the air passageways in the lung.
Who is at increased risk for developing mesothelioma?
Asbestos has been mined and used commercially since the late 1800s. Its use greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos dust. Initially, the risks associated with asbestos exposure were not known. However, an increased risk of developing mesothelioma was later found among shipyard workers, people who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, workers in the heating and construction industries, and other tradespeople. Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. People who work with asbestos wear personal protective equipment to lower their risk of exposure.
The risk of asbestos-related disease increases with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure time. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma. On the other hand, not all workers who are heavily exposed develop asbestos-related diseases.
There is some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, and possibly other asbestos-related diseases. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of asbestos workers. To reduce the chance of exposing family members to asbestos fibers, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
These symptoms may be caused by mesothelioma or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to see a doctor about any of these symptoms. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.
How is mesothelioma diagnosed?
Diagnosing mesothelioma is often difficult, because the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other conditions. Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's medical history, including any history of asbestos exposure. A complete physical examination may be performed, including x-rays of the chest or abdomen and lung function tests. A CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI may also be useful. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. In an MRI, a powerful magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body. These pictures are viewed on a monitor and can also be printed.
A biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In a biopsy, a surgeon or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer) removes a sample of tissue for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy may be done in different ways, depending on where the abnormal area is located. If the cancer is in the chest, the doctor may perform a thoracoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor makes a small cut through the chest wall and puts a thin, lighted tube called a thoracoscope into the chest between two ribs. Thoracoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the chest and obtain tissue samples. If the cancer is in the abdomen, the doctor may perform a peritoneoscopy. To obtain tissue for examination, the doctor makes a small opening in the abdomen and inserts a special instrument called a peritoneoscope into the abdominal cavity. If these procedures do not yield enough tissue, more extensive diagnostic surgery may be necessary.
If the diagnosis is mesothelioma, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of the disease. Staging involves more tests in a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment.
Mesothelioma is described as localized if the cancer is found only on the membrane surface where it originated. It is classified as advanced if it has spread beyond the original membrane surface to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, chest wall, or abdominal organs.
How is mesothelioma treated?
Treatment for mesothelioma depends on the location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, and the patient's age and general health. Standard treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, these treatments are combined.
Surgery is a common treatment for mesothelioma. The doctor may remove part of the lining of the chest or abdomen and some of the tissue around it. For cancer of the pleura (pleural mesothelioma), a lung may be removed in an operation called a pneumonectomy. Sometimes part of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps with breathing, is also removed.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Most drugs used to treat mesothelioma are given by injection into a vein (intravenous, or IV). Doctors are also studying the effectiveness of putting chemotherapy directly into the chest or abdomen (intracavitary chemotherapy).
To relieve symptoms and control pain, the doctor may use a needle or a thin tube to drain fluid that has built up in the chest or abdomen. The procedure for removing fluid from the chest is called thoracentesis. Removal of fluid from the abdomen is called paracentesis. Drugs may be given through a tube in the chest to prevent more fluid from accumulating. Radiation therapy and surgery may also be helpful in relieving symptoms.
Are new treatments for mesothelioma being studied?
Yes. Because mesothelioma is very hard to control, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring clinical trials (research studies with people) that are designed to find new treatments and better ways to use current treatments. Before any new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease. Participation in clinical trials is an important treatment option for many patients with mesothelioma.
People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about clinical trials is available from the Cancer Information Service (CIS) (see below) at 1–800–4–CANCER. Information specialists at the CIS use PDQ®, NCI's cancer information database, to identify and provide detailed information about specific ongoing clinical trials. Patients also have the option of searching for clinical trials on their own. The clinical trials page on the NCI's http://www.cancer.gov Web site, located at http://www.cancer.gov/clinical_trials on the Internet, provides general information about clinical trials and links to PDQ.
People considering clinical trials may be interested in the NCI booklet Taking Part in Clinical Trials: What Cancer Patients Need To Know. This booklet describes how research studies are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks. The booklet is available by calling the CIS, or from the NCI Publications Locator Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/publications on the Internet.
Marriage Missions � 100 Ways You Can Love Your Husband: "
100 WAYS YOU CAN LOVE YOUR HUSBAND HIS WAY! (Author Unknown)
Discuss this list with your husband. Ask him to check the ones most meaningful to him and then arrange them in order of importance to him. Use this list as a basis for learning his views. Your relationship can be greatly strengthened as you use these suggestions.
Communicate with him respectfully.
Regard him as important and let him know he's important to you.
Do everything you can to at least understand his feelings�even when you disagree with him.
Be interested in his friends and occasionally give him time with them (if they are trust-worthy men).
Ask for his opinion and let him know you value what he says.
Tell him you both love him AND like him.
Let him feel your approval and affections.
Protect his dignity on a daily basis.
Be tender with him realizing he has feelings also.
Foster an atmosphere of laughter in your home. Look for ways to laugh together.
Avoid sudden major changes without discussion giving him time to adjust.
When you go out on a date together don't bring up problems�reserve that time to one of having fun together.
Focus on what he's doing right, instead of focusing so often on the negatives.
Show interest in what he feels is important in life.
Correct him gently and in private.
Recognize that the first few minutes after a spouse comes home often sets the stage for the way the rest of the evening will go. So try to make the first few minutes of seeing each other a more positive experience if possible. (And then ease into the negative if it's necessary.)
Make special time available to him apart from the children.
Don't allow any family member to treat him disrespectfully. You should be the one to defend him to any fa"
Questions to Take Your Marriage to Higher Levels: "COMMUNICATION QUESTIONS TO TAKE YOUR MARRIAGE TO HIGHER LEVELS
(Adapted from the book, 40 Unforgettable Dates with your Mate by Gary & Barbara Rosberg)
The following article originally entitled, 'Lift Lines' (which compares communication to skiing) was featured in Marriage Partnership Magazine www.marriagepartnership.com � winter 2004:
Just as ski slopes progress from bunny hills to black diamonds, so conversation starters in marriage range from simple to sizzling. But with greater risk comes greater adventure. So hit the 'slopes' with these questions on your next date and watch your relationship take off!
LEVEL 1 : Put on those skis:
� What's your favorite hobby?
� Tell me about the best vacation you ever had.
� If you won an all-expense-paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
� When do you feel most glad that you married me?
� What's the best compliment I could give you?
� How do you like to be pampered?
� What are your favorite hymns or choruses? Why are they your favorites?
� What one question do you want God to answer?
� What new Thanksgiving or Christmas tradition would you like to start this year?
� Who are your heroes or people you've looked up to over the years?
� What really gets on your nerves?
� Do I touch you enough? In what ways would you like me to physically show my love for you in public?
� What stresses have you been feeling the last few months?
� Did your parents pray for you? What did that mean to you?
LEVEL 2 : The Bunny Hill:
� Do you feel that I spend enough of my free time with you? What things cut into our time together?
� What do you enjoy most about you"
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