We will miss you, Jessica!


Dear friends,

We wanted to share with you the news that our director of government affairs, Jessica Barker, will be, for personal reasons, leaving her position at the Meso Foundation at the end of August. During the three years spent at the Foundation, Jessica has been instrumental in advancing the meso community’s issues on Capitol Hill. She has helped create/solidify relationships on The Hill and developed great partnerships with other organizations.  We are so grateful for all that she has done to help the mesothelioma community.  She will be missed very much!

Although this was a very difficult decision for her, Jessica is looking forward to spending more time at home, with her young children.

Please feel free to contact Jessica with your well wishes by emailing her at jbarker@curemeso.org.


Melinda Kotzian, Chief Executive Officer
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation


Jessica Barker, the director of government affairs at the Meso Foundation, giving a presentation at the 2014 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma

Get Ready for Meso Awareness Day 2014

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2014 will be observed on September 26th.Mesothelioma Awareness Day is just around the corner on September 26th! Established by Meso Foundation volunteers in 2004, Meso Awareness Day has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to this cancer. In the last ten years, through various activities, the Meso Foundation and its volunteers have been able to obtain “National Mesothelioma Awareness Day” proclamations by both the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives, have raised nearly a million dollars, have received local government proclamations in their states and localities, and have received dozens of instances of media coverage for their stories, events, and activities.

In 2014, help us continue this trend. There are a number of ways that you can get involved, such as:

GOVERNMENT: Make Mesothelioma Awareness Day an official day in the states and cities where this hasn’t yet happened.

FUNDRAISING: Organize/attend a fundraising event. Visit curemeso.org to view upcoming events or explore the many ways you can get involved and plan your own event.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Contact your local media to obtain coverage of Meso Awareness Day in your area.

GENERAL AWARENESS: Use your social media networks to bring attention to mesothelioma and to educate your friends, families, and communities about our mission to eradicate mesothelioma and end the suffering caused by this cancer.

CONFERENCE: Join the Meso Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for a regional conference with experts in the field of mesothelioma. The conference will take place on Friday, September 26 at The Hub, Cira Centre located at 2929 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

TODAY SHOW: If you are in the New York are, join Meso Foundation volunteers as they again gather at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City for the Today Show on the morning of Friday, September 26. RSVP NOW. Check out the video below from Meso Awareness Day 2012!

More information about Mesothelioma Awareness Day is available on our website at curemeso.org/awarenessday.

Update on the Deadliest Cancers Caucus

The Meso Foundation encourages mesothelioma advocates to contact their Representative about the Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers.On May 8, a Dear Colleague letter was sent out by the founding co-chairs of the newly established Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers to invite other Representatives to join the Caucus. According to the Dear Colleague letter, the Caucus was created “Because almost half of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are attributable to one of the deadliest cancers, it’s imperative that we monitor implementation and what, if any, additional steps Congress should take to address these most lethal cancers.” The caucus was founded by Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Dave Reichert(R-WA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA).

We asked meso advocates to contact their Representatives to ask them to join this important Caucus. There are now 20 members, which is a direct result of the advocacy efforts of the Meso Foundation and the other members of the Deadliest Cancers Coalition. Thank you to all of the mesothelioma advocates that took the time to contact their Representatives!

The Coalition also planned a June 19 briefing about the bipartisan Caucus, which was attended by more than 100 Congressional staffers. Meso Foundation Director of Government Affairs Jessica Barker attended the standing room only briefing.

Below, you will find a list of the current Caucus members. Don’t see your Representative on the list? It’s not too late! Visit our Action Center now to ask your Rep to join this important effort!

Current Members
Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-5) – June 18, 2014
Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) – May 2, 2014
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) – June 18, 2014
Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-33) – May 2, 2014
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) – June 23, 2014
Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-2) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Tom Latham (IA-3) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-2) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-07) – May 2, 2014
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) – June 18, 2014
Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA-16) – June 18, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) – June 9, 2014
Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26) – June 19, 2014
Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-08) – May 2, 2014

Learn more about the Meso Foundation’s advocacy efforts and how you can get involved at curemeso.org.

The Meso Foundation Applauds the Newly Formed Deadliest Cancers Caucus

Deadliest Cancers Caucus forms in Congress.On May 8, a Dear Colleague letter was sent out by the founding co-chairs of the newly established Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers to invite other Representatives to join the Caucus. The caucus, founded by Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), described its purpose by stating that “because almost half of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are attributable to one of the deadliest cancers, it’s imperative that we monitor implementation and what, if any, additional steps Congress should take to address these most lethal cancers.”

The Meso Foundation applauds the formation of the Caucus. “We are so pleased to see the formation of the Deadliest Cancers Caucus in the House,” said Mary Hesdorffer, expert nurse practitioner and the executive director of the Meso Foundation. “Congress has recognized the need to do more for the most lethal cancers, and we are anxious to see progress. We will continue to dialogue with the Caucus and support them in any way we can.”

We would like to encourage you to request that your respective Congressional Representatives sign on to the letter. The request can be made by filling out a form at curemeso.org.

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

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.