Tuesday 30 April 2013

Stand up for your rights, wherever you are ...

When I started this blog back in 2009, it was shared by family and friends mainly in the UK.  Over time, others have heard about it and now we have visitors from many parts of the world - UK, the Channel Islands, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, India...

The first part of today's post is especially for those of you in the USA

A short while ago, I was contacted by Susan Vento whose husband Bruce - a serving congressman for the state of Minnesota - died as a result of mesothelioma.  Susan is a spokesperson for the Asbestos Cancer Victims Rights Campaign (ACVRC).  

Recently in the states, asbestos companies have been using their political influence to introduce a new bill called "Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act" or FACT for short.  You can read about the bill by clicking here. 

ACVRC is justifiably concerned that this act will delay and, in some cases, deny justice and badly needed compensation to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases.  It has launched a campaign to fight and defeat this unfair legislation.  You can help by doing two things:

1.  Sign the petition to stop legislation that threatens cancer victims.  Go to http://cancervictimsrights.org/take-action/sign-the-petition/ and follow the instructions to sign the petition at the bottom of the page.  Every signature matters!

2.  Spread the word by sharing today's post with others who are, or might be, affected by this issue.

This part of today's post is for those of you in the UK

If you are based in the UK, 2012 brought both good news and bad news in terms of the rights of mesothelioma patients and others with asbestos-related diseases to compensation where exposed to asbestos fibres as a result of negligence in the work place.  

The good news was that in a landmark case (known as the "Trigger" case) the Supreme Court ruled that companies who provided insurance at the time victims inhaled the deadly fibres which subsequently caused them to develop mesothelioma will have to pay compensation.  

Four insurance companies had argued that employers liability should be restricted to when cancerous tumours start to develop rather than when victims were exposed to the deadly dust. Given the long latency period for this cancer - usually decades - by the time many victims are diagnosed they have retired or the firms they worked for have long since ceased to operate.  Had the insurance companies case been upheld, such victims would have received no compensation despite their employer having paid insurance to protect their workers in good faith.  

The other good news was that the UK government announced a new scheme to pay compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace their insurers. Although effective from 25 July 2012, the bad news is that it will take about two years for payments to be made and that 50% of victims with asbestos-related diseases will be excluded, including those with asbestosis or lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

If you or someone you know in the UK suffers from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you can find out more about your rights on the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK by clicking here.

The third part of todays post is about what's happening in Italy

In a ground-breaking judgement back in February, the Italian Courts sentenced a company owner and its major shareholder to 16 years in prison for the deaths of thousands of Italians - both workers and residents - due asbestos poisoning from the Eternit factory in Casale Monferrato.

Not surprisingly, the guilty parties have appealed and the appeal trial is ongoing.  With three hearings every week, it is expected that the trial will end in June.  You can follow progress via the Asbestos in the Dock website by clicking here.  

If you had a slate roof replaced in the 70s or 80s, there's a good chance that the natural slate was replaced by asbestos cement slates manufactured by Eternit.  We have them on the roof of the rear wing at our house.  In my previous life at Oxford City Council, I picked up and handled samples of these artificial slates submitted for approval under planning conditions on an almost daily basis.  Small wonder therefore that the Eternit trial has a personal interest for me as well as being of wider public interest. 

Mesothelioma and asbestos worldwide

Earlier this year, the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs adopted a motion on asbestos-related health threats and prospects for abolishing all existing asbestos.  This called upon the EU to

  • develop, implement and support a model for asbestos screening and registration
  • develop minimum asbestos-specific qualifications and training for professionals and businesses likely to come into contact with asbestos
  • develop programmes for the removal and management of asbestos
  • recognise asbestos-related diseases
  • support asbestos victims groups
  • develop a strategy for the global ban of asbestos

This is just a brief summary of the motion.  For full information, click here. 

If you are from another part of the world, you can find out more about the global asbestos industry and its affects on health in a useful article on the Asbestos.Com website by clicking here.  

You can also access the "International Ban Asbestos Secretariat" by clicking here.

The bottom line(s)

Having a husband diagnosed with an incurable cancer means I often find myself wearing blinkers, focusing on his life, our lives and the lives of meso warriors and carers we are in contact with on an almost daily basis in the virtual world.  

From time to time, it's good to lift the head above the parapet of day-to-day living and survival to see what's happening out there in the wider world.  Thank you Susan for drawing to my attention what's happening in the USA and reminding me that asbestos, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases is a global issue.

Wherever you live, and however you or your loved one were exposed to the asbestos fibres that have caused you to develop this cancer, the bottom line is that its all about people caring for and supporting each other; sharing news; raising awareness and working together for a common cause. 

Today's post is my contribution to awareness-raising. 

Tomorrow we are back on to more personal things; we'll be celebrating our wedding anniversary - another milestone in the post-diagnosis journey :-)

With love to you all, especially those in pain, waiting anxiously for results and undergoing treatment x

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