Today, Congress voted and passed its budget bill, which included a nearly indefinite renewal of the Zadroga Act, which provides heathcare for first responders and others impacted by events of 9/11, the results look promising. The Meso Foundation is hopeful that the bill will pass thus extending nearly indefinitely healthcare benefits to first responders who have become ill as the result of their service.
Mesothelioma is listed as an eligible cancer under the act because of its connection to asbestos. 400 tons of asbestos were released in the air of Manhattan on 9/11 thus exposing first responders and residents alike. No amount of exposure is deemed safe. Latency between exposure to asbestos and disease development can range between 20 – 50 years.
With the life expectancy of less than one year after diagnosis, medical experts consider mesothelioma as one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. An estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards. Currently, few treatment options exist. There is no cure.
Recently, U.S. Congressman Katko of New York introduced a bipartisan bill to establish the nation’s first formal federal registry to track mesothelioma patients. The purpose of the bill is to track mesothelioma patients providing scientists with adequate clinical data to assist in their research.
This bill came about when two advocates for the Foundation, Meg Meccariello and her mother Elizabeth Lawyer, met with Congressman Katko. The Lawyer family has been greatly impacted by mesothelioma. Ms. Meccariello, herself a mesothelioma patient, lost her father Charles Lawyer and her sister Mary Jo Spano, after whom the act is named, to the same cancer. Another sibling of Ms. Meccariello was also recently diagnosed with mesothelioma. Sadly, Ms. Meccariello died earlier this month.
In her honor, Congressman Katko spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives as seen in this video.
Click here to take action by urging your Congressional Representatives to sign on to the Mary Jo Lawyer-Spano Mesothelioma Patient Registry Act of 2015.