Brittany Russell, associate attorney at Belluck & Fox, LLP who focuses on asbestos disease related cases, joined over 220 kayakers on the Hudson River in the Kayaking 4 Meso event, held September 10 in Stillwater, NY. Kayakers paddled eight miles from Stillwater, NY, thru Mechanicville ending at the Halfmoon Lighthouse Park in Halfmoon.
The event, in its sixth year, is held to raise awareness, and funds, in the fight against mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Belluck & Fox, LLP has participated in the event, planned in conjunction with National Mesothelioma Awareness Day held Sept. 26, every year.
“As the number of kayakers who participate grows, so does awareness of the disease – an awareness that will boost the research and money needed to find a cure,” said Mark Wells, founder of the event, in a July 27 press release about the event.
Wells, whose daughter Linda was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2002 at age 16, organized the Kayaking 4 Meso event to raise much-needed funds for mesothelioma research. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure and affects the lining of the abdomen. While there are close to 3,000 cases of all forms of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States each year, less than 10% of those are peritoneal. The cancer, which is often associated with former industrial workers who were exposed to asbestos decades ago, is virtually unheard of among young adults.
Linda has been battling the disease for nearly 15 years, enduring six major surgeries and many rounds of chemotherapy, according to Wells. “She is doing as well as can be expected for what she’s been thru,” said Wells.
The money raised during the event goes to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The organization is the only non-profit organization dedicated to ending mesothelioma and the suffering caused by it, according to the Meso Foundation’s website.
For his efforts with the Kayaking 4 Meso event, Wells was selected as one of the recipients of the 2016 ‘Above and Beyond’ Award from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. The award is presented to community members of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation who work to advance the mission of the Meso Foundation through efforts of advocacy, awareness-building and/or providing education and support.
Wells said the Meso Foundation has helped his and many other families with knowledge and advocacy by directing them to doctors, hospitals, and clinical trials.
Wells said the events have raised more than $45,000 through 2015 to aid in research to find a cure.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. There is as yet no known cure and researchers are seeking more effective treatments to manage the disease. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
“I am hopeful and each year all of the kayakers that paddle for Kayaking 4 Meso remind me I am not the only one,” said Linda of her battle with mesothelioma.