Mesothelioma Advocacy Day 2011

During the month of June, mesothelioma advocates aggressively educated Congress about mesothelioma and the dire need for increased federal medical research funding.  The meso community has taken a multi-pronged approach to educating Congress to assure that no stone is left unturned.

On June 22, 2011,Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, nurse practitioner and medical liaison for the Meso Foundation, testified before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations- Subcommittee on Defense at their Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations Outside Witness Testimony Hearing.

Ms. Hesdorffer explained the need for sustained and increased funding for mesothelioma through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and stressed the strong link between mesothelioma and military service. She asked that a dedicated funding stream of $5 million be appropriated for mesothelioma through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, because mesothelioma disproportionally affects American servicemen and women and their families.

“Almost 3,000 Americans die each year of mesothelioma, and one study found that one third of patients were exposed on U.S. Navy ships or shipyards. That is 1,000U.S.veterans and shipyard workers per year, lost through service to country, just as if they had been on a battlefield,” said Ms. Hesdorffer.

To view the hearing, please click here.  Mary’s testimony begins at the 77 minute mark.

The following day, June 23, the Meso Foundation in conjunction with Senator Patty Murray’s office sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing for congressional staffers.  The briefing featured a moving recount of his mesothelioma experience by patient and Navy veteran Mike Clements and a presentation byMary Hesdorfferon the disease, treatment options and the need for more comprehensive research funding.

Mesothelioma patient and Navy veteran Mike Clements sharing the story of his battle with mesothelioma at a Capitol Hill briefing. Congressional staffer Shawn Bills and Mary Hesdorffer in the background.

Later that afternoon, advocates were given the opportunity to make individual visits to their Congressional representatives.  More than fifty mesothelioma advocates including patients, physicians, caregivers and family members made visits on Capitol Hill to their members of Congress requesting support for increased funding for mesothelioma research.

Mesothelioma patient Lisa Gonneville with her family and Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

Mesothelioma patient Tim Hermetz with his Congressman, Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

Mary Hesdorffer and meso patient Liz Van Zandt educating a congressional staffer on the tragedy of mesothelioma.

The Defense Subcommittee will be crafting the Defense Appropriations bill for FY 2012 in the next month, hopefully before the August Congressional recess.

To help us on our mission to ban asbestos and ensure federal funding for mesothelioma research we are asking members of the Meso Community to visit our Action Center.

Through theActionCenteryou can contact your Senators and your House Representative to ask for their support in sustaining mesothelioma research funding through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

Second, we are asking everyone to call their Representative’s district office to schedule an appointment to meet with him or her and share your meso story while they are in their home districts during recess the month of August.  By creating and continuing these connections we can ensure our legislators remember the faces of mesothelioma.

The only way to end this deadly disease is to ensure the necessary funding for a cure is made available.

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