Mesothelioma Patient Stories:
Husband & Wife Develop Mesothelioma
This patient story relates to a sailor who was exposed to asbestos during his long voyages on a battleship during the Korean conflict and during his many years of working in the shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia. The sailor recalls the massive amounts of insulation that lined the vessels' piping and heat-producing areas. He also recalls the "cloud of asbestos" that occurred each time the massive 16-inch guns were fired. The concussion of the guns created a fine haze of asbestos from overhead insulation.
This sailor encountered this asbestos haze many times during his 21-year Navy career. He had served aboard a number of ships that were put into the Norfolk shipyards for repair. During the repair, he helped remove and replace asbestos insulation so changes or upgrades could be expeditiously made to the boilers and engines.
After retiring from the Navy, he took a job as an air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic at the shipyard. And then went on to become the superintendent of shipbuilding. All of these positions placed him in the presence of asbestos and would eventually lead to his contraction of mesothelioma.
But, the asbestos dust also accumulated in his clothing. So, every night when he returned home from working in the asbestos filled environment, the dust on his clothing would expose his wife and children to asbestos. In 1985, over 30 years after his first exposure to asbestos, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Part of his lung was removed and he came through the surgery well.
He had survived a scare with mesothelioma and was taking time to spend with his wife and family. Fifteen years later, long after his mesothelioma tumor had been removed and the disease seemed to be stable for him, his wife was diagnosed with this deadly cancer. Her asbestos exposure apparently occurred due to the dust in his clothing many years earlier. Within a month of diagnosis, she died of mesothelioma.
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[Page updated December 2004]