Meso Warrior Bruce Jackson Presents Congresswoman Betty McCollum with the Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award

Dodds, McCollum, and Jackson

Dodds, McCollum, and JacksonOn April 23, 2014, mesothelioma warrior Bruce Jackson presented Congresswoman Betty McCollum with the Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award for sending a letter to Dr. Harold Varmus, Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to urge the NCI to further mesothelioma research. The Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award is presented each year to an individual or individuals who create hope for meso warriors and their loved ones through advocacy.

In February, U.S. Congresswomen Betty McCollum (D-MN) led the effort to send a letter to Dr. Harold Varmus, urging him to create a scientific framework for mesothelioma to progress research. Representative McCollum recruited eighteen of her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join her in sending the letter. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) has long advocated for the National Cancer Institute to increase their focus on mesothelioma, and Representative McCollum has been a stalwart champion for the cause. Representative McCollum advocates for mesothelioma in honor of her predecessor, Bruce Vento. Bruce Vento was a prominent member of Congress who, after nearly 24 years of service, succumbed to mesothelioma only eight months after diagnosis.

“I’m honored to represent the Meso Foundation community in awarding the Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award to Rep. Betty McCollum. It’s good people like Rep. McCollum who give people like me hope for the future,” said Bruce Jackson. He added, “I have more music to make! And I’m not going down without a fight!”

Bruce Jackson, a native Minnesotan, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in June of 2008. His doctor at the time told him to “Google it” because he knew nothing about the cancer, only that it was “terminal.” The online search for mesothelioma led Bruce and his girlfriend Beth Dodds to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Mary Hesdorffer, Executive Director of the Meso Foundation, had them on a plane within 2 weeks of diagnosis to attend the Meso Foundation’s International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in Washington, D.C., where they learned everything about this cancer.

In August of 2008, Bruce had surgery to remove his omentum and received the Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) procedure at the National Institutes of Health with Dr. Pingpank. Bruce remained with no evidence of disease (NED) for four years, but the cancer returned in August of 2012. Bruce had surgery at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Dr. Robert Kratzke. Unfortunately, Bruce’s cancer returned again in March of 2014 and he is now in talks with Dr. Pingpank and his team at the University of Pittsburgh to have surgery and the HIPEC procedure again.

Bruce Jackson and Beth Ann Dodds are full-time musicians who met in 2007 in St. Paul, Minnesota when Beth auditioned to be a singer in Bruce’s band, Bruce Jackson & The Moondogs88 Band. The Moondogs88 Band is a funky, jazzy ensemble that plays in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Bruce has played piano in countless bands and studied under world renowned piano great, Manfredo Fest. Bruce has traveled the world sharing the stage with many musical greats for over 40 years. Bruce is now teaching piano, accordion, mandolin, guitar and harpsichord to children and adults in the Twin Cities metro area. Beth is a full-time student in addition to her singing career, returning to academic life to complete her degree in nutrition. Beth and Bruce are prominent members of the Meso Fighters Band, rocking the socks off of Symposium attendees each year.

Bruce and Beth even had the chance to show off their musical talent for Congresswoman McCollum, as they sang her “You Are My Sunshine.”

Bruce Jackson Presents the Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award to Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Mesothelioma warrior Bruce Jackson and his girlfriend, Beth Dodds, represented the meso community on April 23, 2014 as they presented the Meso Foundation’s Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award to Congresswo…

Throughout this journey, Bruce is living life to its fullest, believing that despite the diagnosis of meso, life can be amazing. It might not be what most people think – that life with cancer can be amazing – but the addition of meso in his life has taught him that life is precious, beautiful and full of LOVE. He is an inspiration to us all.

To learn more about Congresswoman McCollum’s advocacy for mesothelioma research, click here.

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