Board of Directors
Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
UCLA Medical School
Nicholas J. Vogelzang, M.D.
University of Chicago
Brian Loggie, M.D.
Creighton University Medical Center
Michael Harbut, M.D., M.P.H.
Royal Oak, Michigan
Roger G. Worthington, Esq.
Mathew Bergman, Esq.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Cary, North Carolina
Congressman Bruce F. Vento
Science Advisory Board
Harvey Pass, M.D., Chairman
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Victor Roggli, M.D.
Robert N. Taub, M.D.
Lary A. Robinson, M.D.
H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center
Steve Hahn, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Joseph R. Testa, Ph. D.
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Claire Verschraegen, M.D.
University of New Mexico
Eric Vallieres, M.D.
University of Washington
Dan Miller, M.D.
Raphael Bueno, M.D.
Harvard/Brigham and Women's
Hedy Lee Kindler, M.D.
University of Chicago
W. Roy Smythe, M.D.
M.D. Anderson/University of Texas
Christopher E. Hahn
Santa Barbara, California
1609 Garden Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
tel (805) 560-8942
fax (805) 560-8962
Our Mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease.
April 4, 2003
City, State Zip
Re: Time for U.S. to Serve Veterans with War-Related Cancer
Ignored for decades, the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma now makes
headlines. Destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 released tons of asbestos
into New York City's air and raised concerns that rescue workers and
residents may develop the cancer. CNN and major newspaper accounts detail
the terrible suffering of mesothelioma patients. Editorials urge limits
on lawsuits by asbestos claimants who are not sick, in order to avoid
further bankruptcies and preserve some compensation for terminally ill
Despite the recent glare of publicity, the Federal Government's responsibility
for this tragedy remains unaddressed. Of the 2,500 to 3,000 patients diagnosed
with mesothelioma each year in the United States, about 33% served in
the U.S. Navy, Merchant Marines or as civilians in Navy shipyards - most
notably, retired Chief Naval Officer Admiral
Elmo Zumwalt, Jr. Sovereign immunity bars asbestos-related suits against the United States,
but not a concerted government effort to treat and cure mesothelioma.
To date, federal funding for mesothelioma treatment has been virtually
"The Asbestos Claims Criteria and Compensation Act," S. 413,
recently introduced by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), seeks to prevent further
bankruptcies by asbestos defendants and thus preserve compensation funds
for seriously ill asbestos plaintiffs by limiting lawsuits by claimants
who are not sick. However, the bill does not contain any provision, which
would help fix the ultimate problem by funding mesothelioma treatment
and cure research. The first priority of anyone with mesothelioma is life,
not compensation. Sen. Nickles' bill does not go far enough.
"The Ban Asbestos Act in America" also recently introduced by
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), still lacks a Republican co-sponsor. Sen. Murray's
Bill does provide federal funding for mesothelioma research and treatment.
We would like to see the two bills merged.
I know I have written to you before about MARF and its mission. I am very
proud that the majority of the funds used to sustain MARF and fund its
research grants have come directly from mesothelioma patients, their family
and friends. I do not for a second take such generosity for granted.
Now, I'd like to again ask that you help MARF's mission, this time
by contacting your U.S. Senator and Congressman regarding the long overdue
need for the U.S. Government to establish a mesothelioma treatment program
within the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs. Any
breakthroughs such a medical program may generate would obviously be of
immeasurable value to mesothelioma patients throughout the world. I also
encourage you to write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
The attached materials should supply you with plenty of ammunition for
a well-reasoned "op-ed" column. If you need any help, please ask.
Please take the time to digest, ponder and talk about the attached materials
- but then, please act. Especially during this time of war, when so much
focus is rightly placed on protecting our troops who are in harm's
way, the time is right for America to look back and remember our debts
to those veterans who proudly served when asbestos use was rampant and
unchecked. Now is the time for the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense
to respond by funding the research to find a treatment that will either
thwart or eradicate this long-neglected, service-connected cancer.
Yours very truly,
Roger G. Worthington