Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Over $95,000 raised for Mesothelioma Research--Pacific Meso Center’s 3rd Annual Walk/Hike for Meso a Tremendous Success!

Team W&C members Jim Parnel,
Juniel Worthington, John and Suzanne
Caron, with PMC Exec. Dir. Clare
Cameron and Volunteers
Pacific Meso Center’s 3rd Annual Walk/Hike for Meso took place on Sunday, October 12th at the scenic Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills. With the picture-perfect weather and impeccable organization by the event’s many volunteers, energy and anticipation were high.

The event was attended by several mesothelioma patients, as well as over 250 participants, many of whom are friends and family of persons whose lives have been rocked by mesothelioma. Each kilometer was marked with signs sponsored by families in memory of the loved ones affected by the disease. There were also mesothelioma and asbestos facts scattered throughout the course, and a quiz at the completion of the walk with prizes for the top scores. 

After finishing the challenging hike along five kilometers of dirt paths in the hills above the ranch, hikers were greeted with cheers, an assortment of cold beverages and the hot R&B sounds of Cherry & The Bulldogs. Hikers were then rewarded with a delicious lunch from Ottavio’s Italian Restaurant, donated by owner Noella Belvedere who lost her husband Ottavio to mesothelioma in 2007. Noella and her family are no strangers to the cause, having raised more than $120,000 for mesothelioma research over the years.


Along the Dusty Trail!

When the dust cleared, the event raised $95,000 for much-needed research into lung-sparing treatments for mesothelioma. This amount exceeded PMC’s goal for the event for the third year in a row, and donations are still coming in! Friends and family of Gene Lepore brought home the honors for top fundraising team with their team, Team Gigi, bringing in $8,015. They were followed by last year’s top fundraising team, Irish Stampede, with $6,952, and Team Chuck Jarvis repeated last year’s third-place performance with $6,909.

PMC Scientific Advisor
Dr. Robert Cameron
Thanking the Hikers for 
Supporting Meso Research
The Worthington & Caron law firm is proud to have been the lead sponsor of the PMC Hike for Meso for the third year in a row. “This is a unique event which brings together families and friends of persons afflicted with mesothelioma to share camaraderie and sense of mission in a beautiful outdoor setting,” commented Worthington & Caron partner John Caron. “The event gets bigger and bigger every year, and has already become a tradition for many of the families who participate.”

PMC’s Annual Walk/Hike for Meso is held in loving memory of Ottavio Belvedere, Bruce Bell, Mark Ganoe, Charles Jarvis, Sr., John Johnson, Gene Lepore, Gerry McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Rosa Gonzalez, Robert Vitale and to all those who have lost their battle with mesothelioma.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program - The Best Medical Plan No Veterans Know About

Secretary McDonald  - Please Notify Veterans There's No Waiting List at the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program in Los Angeles
Zumwalt Meso
Treatment Program 
The best medical plan 
no veterans know about

San Pedro, CA -- It's upsetting to read the allegations in the news about secret wait lists, cover-ups, shabby treatment, premature deaths and a culture of apathy permeating the Department of Veterans Affairs.
What's equally upsetting is letting veterans suffer and die with either no or minimal treatment even though a qualified medical team is standing by and eager to treat them.
For months now, patients and advocates (including Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.)) have been entreating former Secretary Shinseki and Under Secretary Petzel to simply notify patients and doctorswithin the vast VA network of the world-class treatment available to veterans suffering from mesothelioma as a result of service-related asbestos exposure. Now with the recent confirmation of VA Secretary Robert McDonald, veterans are optimistic of the changes being proposed but their trust has been undeniably compromised.
About a year ago, the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles, California approved (but did not budget) the Admiral Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program. The program is headed up by Dr. Robert Cameron, a well-respected thoracic surgeon who has dedicated his life to the rational treatment of pleural mesothelioma, a cancer which disproportionately impacts US service veterans.
Dr. Cameron and his crew are eager to treat veterans. Unfortunately, despite multiple requests and promises, the VA has yet to perform the simple administrative task of updating its website and other social media about the existence of the program--notices that would alert veterans suffering from mesothelioma to the high quality treatment which is available to them. Neither the VA nor West LA VA websites even mention the program.
The mesothelioma treatment team at the West LA VA Medical Center would love to have a list of veterans to treat. But there's no list, no waiting list and no effort to educate our war heroes stricken with asbestos cancer that help is available.
According to the popular literature, about 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Of those, roughly a third were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy. It's not a stretch to surmise that at least 600 Navy veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year--a diagnosis that carries a nine month life expectancy with no treatment and 11-12 months with chemotherapy only.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease and few doctors are either interested or qualified to treat it with the full arsenal of options available. It's a beautiful thing that a world-renowned surgeon like Dr. Cameron is willing to treat veterans, but it's sad that the VA has done nothing to help educate patients about his extraordinary talents.
Secretary McDonald, the request is simple: Will you please educate veterans and all caregivers within the VA system that the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program is alive and well and eager to provide prompt, world-class treatment to veterans suffering from mesothelioma (without placing them on a long list!).
With new reports of the VA medical system's failures capturing headlines every day, what better time to finally bring attention to an area where the VA has gotten it right!
For more information, please contact Worthington & Caron (http://www.mesothel.com/) or 800-831-9399.

Monday, August 4, 2014

“The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Rally for Meso - The Sequel

Sunday August 3 was the 2nd ever “Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Rally to raise funds for mesothelioma research conducted by the Pacific Meso Center. The Worthington & Caron law firm was proud to once again serve as the lead sponsor for this unique event. 

The rally is inspired by the classic movie, “The Great Escape” starring the “King of Cool” and mesothelioma victim Steve McQueen. While there has never been a sequel to “The Great Escape” (and hopefully never will be!), the sequel to the first-ever “Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Rally turned out to be even better than the original!!

Heading North on PCH

The build-up to the event was somewhat auspicious, as Los Angeles experienced an extremely rare August rainstorm (any rain in LA is rare these days—but especially in August!) which lasted overnight until about 30 minutes before start-time. But the weather didn’t keep away the dedicated and enthusiastic group of motorcyclists who turned out to support a very worthy cause and have a great ride up the coast in the process.

This year’s celebrity grand marshal was actor and motorcycle enthusiast (more accurately “fanatic”) Perry King. Perry gave an inspirational send-off speech thanking motorcyclists for being the most reliable segment of the general public when it comes to turning out to support a worthy cause. He then reminded everyone about the real reason we were all there—to raise funds for much-needed research into a cure for mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer which disproportionately affects U.S. service veterans as well as thousands of Americans from all walks of life every year.

After that, it was “kickstands up!!” With a full motorcycle escort, the likes of which is usually reserved for presidents and dignitaries, the “rolling thunder” of over 150 motorcycles of all shapes and sizes (except for Perry King’s silent, but ultra-cool, Zero E-Bike) roared through the usually clogged streets of Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu without stopping for a single traffic signal!

"Twisting" Through the Canyons

Riders were treated to ocean views along Pacific Coast Highway and then rugged canyon views as the ride turned up Kanan Dume road. After negotiating the hills, “twisties” and tunnels of Kanan Dume, the ride turned down Cornell road for a final approach into historic Paramount Ranch, nestled in the hills above Malibu. It was quite a sight as all the bikes wound their way through the dirt streets of the western town movie set before it was “kickstands down” around the party pavilion at the ranch.

 At the Ranch - John Caron (center) with Perry King (to his left) and Chuck Jarvis, Jr. (to his right)

The riders were joined by a healthy throng of supporters who drove their cars to the ranch to be part of the fun. Everyone who made the trip got to enjoy an outstanding barbeque lunch, cold beverages and the sounds of classic Johnny Cash songs provided by the “Walking Phoenixes” band who were accompanied by the “Phoenix Girls” dancers. Four proud bike owners were given awards for having the coolest bikes in their categories, as voted on by the other riders.

Attendees bid liberally on the outstanding auction and raffle items which were donated to the cause by generous supporters. The prizes included two African safaris, a Keith Urban guitar, artisanal glassworks and all sorts of motorcycle gear, with all of the proceeds going to mesothelioma research.

Grand marshal Perry King brought along his friend, motorcycling legend Dave Ekins who, along with his brother Bud Ekins, was largely responsible for the growth of motorcycle racing in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Dave shared some little known facts about the motorcycling scenes in “The Great Escape” movie. Dave’s brother Bud did the stunt riding for Steve McQueen in the movie, including the famous scene where McQueen’s character attempts to jump the barbed-wire fence at the POW camp. DYK--it was Steve McQueen himself who added this scene to the movie as a condition for doing the movie.

Click here for to view the news story from local ABC affiliate KABC.

All in all “The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Rally was an extremely fun event which raised much needed funds and public awareness for research into a cure for mesothelioma. Thanks to Clare Cameron and all her dedicated volunteers at the Pacific Meso Center for working so hard to make it a success. Worthington & Caron were proud to be a part of this sequel to “The Greatest Escape” and look forward to “playing a role” in many more in the future. 

John and Perry; John taking Perry’s E-bike for a Silent Spin

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Greatest Escape; 2nd Annual Motorcycle Ride to Benefit Victims of Mesothelioma

Proudly Presented by Worthington & Caron, P.C.

Join us and the Pacific Meso Center on a beautiful motorcycle ride along the California coast this Sunday, August 3.

After the ride, join us for a lunch, concert and additional fun at The Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California. There will be celebrity riders including our Grand Marshall, Perry King!

Registration begins at: 8:30 AM and the Ride promptly begins at: 10:00 AM. The lunch will be provided by J Wolf Catering & Concert begins and the digging in begins at 12:30 PM

Be sure to stay and enjoy the music of The Walking Phoenixes-a Johnny Cash Tribute Band.

Click here for all the details.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

University of Pennsylvania's Mesothelioma Program Receives $8 Million Grant from NCI

The National Cancer Institute awarded an $8 million grant to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine to study the effects of photodynamic light therapy (PDT) in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The grant  will fund a clinical trial and additional studies looking at the effects of PDT on the patient’s immune response, the mesothelioma tumor cell , and the blood vessels surrounding the tumor.

Dr. Eli Glatstein is the principal investigator of the program. He is also the professor and vice chair of Radiation Oncology, and member of Penn’s Mesothelioma and Pleural Program. According to Dr. Glatstein,  “This trial represents a major step in understanding the combination of treatment modalities that will offer patients the best hope for survival and extended remission.”

The study expects to enroll 102 patients over four years.  Patient will be administered Photofrin, a photosensitizing agent that makes cancer cells more sensitive to dying from light therapy, 24 hours prior to surgery.

The patients will then undergo a radical pleurectomy.  The patents will then be divided into two groups: half will receive PDT intraoperatively via an intense laser inserted in the chest cavity during the surgery, along with post-operative standard chemotherapy; and half who will receive only post-operative chemotherapy. Photofrin absorbs the light from the laser and produces an active form of oxygen that can destroy residual microscopic cancer cells left behind after surgery.

“PDT has been a part of our treatment regimen along with a lung-sparing surgery for many years, but a randomized clinical trial such as this remains necessary to prove its efficacy,” says Glatstein.

PDT is known to kill cancer cells, but researchers also seek to understand the patient’s immune response, the tumor microenvironment and the blood vessels in and surrounding the tumor in three additional studies funded under the grant.

“This trial will help us understand how PDT works in the body and what we may be able to do in the future to improve the body’s response to the therapy,” says Glatstein.

Click here for more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Penn Medicine Receives $10 million Award to Study Asbestos Adverse Health Effects and Remediation of Asbestos

The BioRit Asbestos Superfund site is located in Ambler, Pennsylvania.  Ambler is 20 miles north of Philadelphia.

From the late 1880s through the present day, Ambler residents have had either occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos. As a result, both current and former residents of the area face potentially serious long-term health consequences.

The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) is an organization whose mission is to effectively translate environmental health sciences research findings into practical health promotion, disease prevention information, tools and resources for our target audiences.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, with the aid of the COEC, has determined that there has been an increase in the rate of mesothelioma in the Ambler area compared to the adjacent zip codes, with women having a greater risk than men.

Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have been awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) over the next four years to study asbestos exposure pathways that lead to mesothelioma, the bioremediation of this hazardous material, and mechanisms that lead to asbestos-related diseases.

The Penn Superfund Research and Training Program (SRP) Center, which was established by this grant, evolved as a direct consequence of concerns from the Ambler community. The researchers are hopeful that continued investigation and education will yield more information about exposure pathways that led to these health risks. Click here for more.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dr. Robert Cameron Chairs International Panel of Medical Specialists at 4th Annual Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Robert Cameron
The Pacific Meso Center, in conjunction with The Office of Continuing Medical Education of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, held the 4th International Symposium on Lung-SparingTherapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on June 7, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to once again be a platinum sponsor of this unique medical seminar focusing on rational treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

As in years past, the course organizer and chair of the symposium was thoracic surgeon and pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert Cameron. An ardent supporter of rational lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, and innovator of the pleurectomy/decortication (“PD”) surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron is the founder and director of both the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at the UCLA Medical Center and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

Dr. Cameron discussed how, because of the diffuse nature of mesothelioma tumors, there is no advantage to removing the lung via extrapleural pneumonectomy (“EPP”), a radical surgery which involves removal of the pleura-based tumor along with the adjacent lung, diaphragm and portions of the pericardium. Dr. Cameron explained that, as compared to lung-sparing PD, “there are consequences to extending the surgical field with EPP.” Dr. Cameron pointed to statistics revealing a greater rate of “distant” tumor recurrence associated with EPP. He noted that “distant” recurrences in areas such as the peritoneum are more difficult to treat than “local” recurrences at or near the tumor bed.

In a second presentation, Dr. Cameron addressed the latest developments in intraoperative therapies to attack disease at a cellular level through chemicals such as Betadine, as well as chemotherapy, thermal therapies, light therapies and immune therapies.

Dr. Olga Olevsky
Dr. Olga Olevsky, Oncologist and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, addressed the topic of when is the optimal time to administer Pemetrexed/Cisplatin or Pemetrexed/Carboplatin chemotherapy—before, during or after surgery. She presented the results of studies revealing that there is no statistical advantage to any of the three protocols, but posited that there may be advantages to adjuvant or postoperative administration of chemotherapy because it allows more aggressive initial treatment via surgery and allows for more accurate monitoring of response.

Dr. Percy Lee, Chief of Thoracic Radiation Oncology and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center, gave an informative presentation on postoperative tomotherapy following PD. Dr. Lee explained how he and his team at UCLA work closely with Dr. Cameron to maximize effective delivery of radiation and minimize the risk of radiation toxicity utilizing the latest tomography technology.

A timely presentation regarding the challenges of treating veterans, who are disproportionally affected by mesothelioma, in the world’s largest healthcare system, and how the Mesothelioma Treatment Center of Excellence at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center has overcome these challenges was provided by Graciela Hoal, RN, NP.

Dr. Irene I-Lan Wu, Assistant Director of the UCLA Pain Management Center, gave a presentation regarding recent developments in postoperative pain management therapies including intrathecal drug delivery and spinal cord stimulators.

Dr. Cameron speaking with Dr. I-Lan Wu
and Dr. Lee (seated)
International presenters, Dr. Jan von MeerBeeck, Professor of Thoracic Oncology and Director of Thoracic Oncology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and Dr. Joachim Aerts, Chief of Thoracic Oncology at Erasmus Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, Netherlands, gave presentations on recent studies involving state-of-the-art targeted therapies for advanced/inoperable mesothelioma and dendritic cell based immunotherapy.

Updates regarding research into innovative mesothelioma therapies involving mesenchymal stem cells and genes and molecular mechanisms being conducted at the Pacific Meso Center were provided by Research Scientists Raymond Wong, PhD and Irina Ianculescu, PhD.

Pacific Meso Center Executive
Director, Clare Cameron
Presentations regarding the global health risks of asbestos and the continuing need for meaningful bans were provided by Dr. Richard Lemen, Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, and Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

Lastly, Pacific Meso Center Executive Director Clare Cameron gave a presentation about the role of non-profits in the fight against mesothelioma, and provided updates on the many resources available to mesothelioma sufferers through the Pacific Meso Center.

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of the symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks.