Mesothelioma Patient Believes Asbestos on Father’s Clothes Caused Her Cancer

11/23/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma Lawyers: Cooney & Conway

Julie Gundlach never worked with asbestos—but her father did. And that, says the 39-year-old St. Louis woman, was enough to trigger her own battle with mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Her scenario is simple and sobering: Asbestos fibers on her father’s work clothes, Gundlach says, were released into the air at the family home, and she inhaled them with tragic consequences. To those who aren’t familiar with asbestos—or the great harm it can do—Gundlach’s tale might seem far-fetched. But mesothelioma lawyers say it happens all the time. And the results are devastating.

Mesothelioma, which is almost always fatal, can take many years, even decades, to develop. That’s why the disease is often associated with older people, typically retirees who previously worked in industrial jobs that involved asbestos-containing materials.

But asbestos is most dangerous when fibers are released into the air then inhaled into the lungs. That can happen anytime, anyplace, and to anyone.

Someone who worked with asbestos on the job and had asbestos fibers on their clothes could easily bring the hazardous material home at the end of the day. So the innocent act of wearing work clothes home made every family member a potential victim.

Gundlach’s father, an electrician, spent days crawling through asbestos-laden insulation and ceilings. He was “coated with it,” his daughter says.

Still, Gundlach was surprised when she learned her diagnosis. “When I first got sick, I thought mesothelioma happened [only] to people who worked with asbestos,” she says. That she herself could get it “seemed like the craziest thing.”

Mesothelioma lawyers—who have brought, and prevailed in, many lawsuits based on such secondhand asbestos exposure—say these cases are particularly troubling because they often involve victims who inhaled asbestos fibers as children, only to suffer from mesothelioma years later, when, like Gunlach, they were in the prime of their life.

While mesothelioma may take a generation before it is detected, news of the disease carries a grim prognosis. Even the best treatments can only prolong a patient’s life by a matter of months. The cancer is physically painful, and often emotionally and financially crippling. Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have obtained large and frequently multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for stricken clients. But a cure remains elusive.

Mesothelioma is not the only deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure. Lung cancer and asbestosis—a condition that causes severe respiratory distress—can also be triggered by inhaling asbestos fibers.

Worldwide, 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases, according to the World Health Organization. For the victims and their families, it’s a development that rings painfully true.

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been advocates for those injured because of the wrongful actions of others. We have litigated and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing justice—and compensation—to victims of asbestos exposure and the lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other deadly diseases it can cause.

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