Mesothelioma Treatment Pioneer, Dr. David Sugarbaker Passes Away at Age 65

Incredibly rare, malignant mesothelioma (pronounced: me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh), is an uncommon type of cancer impeding the thin outer layer of tissue (mesothelium) covering most of your internal organs.

Cancer of the mesothelium is caused by exposure to an industrial agent called asbestos and is both aggressive and deadly, and while treatments are available, cure is not typically possible.

The Loss Of A Great Medical Visionary

For nearly three decades thoracic surgeon Dr. David Sugarbaker led the way in advancing the way we medically approach and treat pleural mesothelioma.

We regret to report that at the young age of 65, Dr. Sugarbaker has departed this world and the world of medicine that he devoted his life’s work to.

Among a long list of accolades and accomplishments, Sugarbaker served proudly as the director of the Lung Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

A Storied Past

For 26 years Dr. Sugarbaker proudly and expertly served at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Sugarbaker worked diligently and with purpose, spearheading and establishing the most noteworthy and prestigious mesothelioma cancer treatment program in America.

While in Boston Sugarbaker invented and perfected surgical techniques that resulted in lowered mortality rates and extend the lives of countless patients diagnosed with this debilitating and ultimately fatal cancer from which there is no cure.

His findings and treatment modifications earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues and won the hearts of patients, many of which traveled across the country to work with him.

In 2014, Sugarbaker proudly joined the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

A Teacher and a Mentor

Dr. Sugarbaker wasn’t just a highly experienced and innovative surgeon, he was also a respected mentor and facilitator of knowledge. The teachings and impact he had on countless prominent thoracic surgeons trained under his watch will keep his legacy alive for decades to come.

Dr. Jacques Fontaine, a thoracic surgeon who started the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, remembers Dr. Sugarbaker as a “mentor of mentors”. Fontaine holds that “His vision, focus and dedication to advancing the treatment of mesothelioma have influenced an entire generation of thoracic surgeons.”

Steadfast and Unwavering Dedication to His Patients

Dr. Sugarbaker was full of ambition to help change the world for the better. He joined Baylor College of Medicine with the intent to develop the Lung Institute, and the ambitious program he had hoped would surpass even that which he had established in Boston.

His following within the mesothelioma community was unmatched by any other in his field, with word of patient success stories spreading far and wide. A small group of his patients that had passed the 10-year mark after surgery continued to see him regularly even if that meant traveling long distances to his new base of operations. A following of patients that lived for five years beyond their prescribed life expectancy only aided in furthering his notoriety.

Another thoracic surgeon trained under Sugarbaker, Dr. Abraham Lebenthal, noted that, “In the field [of mesothelioma], he is the gold standard.”

Gone But Never Forgotten

One thing is certain, while the world lost a great man and a highly respected clinician, his patients, their families and the surgeons he has trained will never forget the gift of life and knowledge he gave them.

Mesothelioma Support

You’re Not Alone

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, always remember, you’re not alone. It’s not a life vs. death fight with this terrible cancer. There are many support groups to help you cope with your problem. Of course there will be lots of grieving, sadness and struggle, but there are many people you can reach out to for help dealing with this catastrophe. There’s foundations you can reach by phone, the internet, in person, whatever works best for you. There’s no point in just moping and grieving until the very end.

Believe it or not, there are people out there just like you, in your exact situation. Just because they aren’t in your shoes doesn’t mean they don’t know how you feel and haven’t been where you are before. In fact, these support groups can give you a sense of relief, warmth and happiness. It’s important to have that one person who you can talk to and instantly feel better about life, or really anything. If you don’t have someone like that, these support groups can help you find that exact person you need to make you simply feel better.

Care Centers and Counseling

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a alternate housing option for individuals with cancer. This will ensure that they are in good hands, and surrounded by people who want them to feel good and know how to make them happy. Besides friends and family, it really is amazing how just the presence of another person can really make a difference in someone’s life after receiving such terrible news.  Care centers are also especially helpful for patients who are forced to travel out of state for their treatment, which really isn’t fair at all. They are made and designed specifically for patients who are in need of help from others to feel better about themselves. These care centers include full living arrangements as well such as a kitchen, shared living rooms with other patients and laundry facilities. These care centers are generally even cheaper and nicer than staying at a hotel, which is how it should be for someone who is forced to cope with mesothelioma.

In addition to care centers, there is also multiple forms of counseling. These can be made up by either hospitals or a side party program designed to give patients the highest support for their needs. Even if it isn’t a counseling session in person, over the phone still makes someone feel good to hear their loved ones voice or a professional counselor (someone trained to make people feel better).  A lot of these professionals are trained to be the best counselor they can be, meaning they are available 24/7 to their patients.

Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

People begin to see signs of Mesothelioma before they begin to do tests to see if they actually have this form of cancer. The tests to see exactly which type of Mesothelioma you may have are quite intricate and extreme, so its best to wait until you think for sure that you are experiencing signs of this form of cancer. Signs may include coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pains. If you are feeling any of these symptoms it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you possibly can before it gets even worse. Once you have set up a meeting with a doctor or a physician with a high level of expertise on the subject, it’s important to ask them as many questions as you can think of to get the full picture on what symptoms mean which type of mesothelioma.

Different Types of Mesothelioma

Your mesothelium is the thin membrane that covers the inside of the body and lubricates the cavities of the body as well. It’s an important part of your lungs, and cancer can form in this area from exposure to asbestos, the inside of the walls of your home. This is what is known as mesothelioma. Not many people outside the medical field know this, but there are multiple different types of mesothelioma that you could be unlucky enough to have. There’s Pleural Mesothelioma, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, and Pericardial Mesothelioma. Each of these types are different, concerning which part of the body has the cancerous tumor.

Pleural mesothelioma is where the cancer has developed in the lining of your lungs. Most of the diagnosed cases of mesothelioma (about 75 percent) are pleural mesothelioma cases. This is due to the asbestos of your home being inhaled into your lungs, which causes fibers from the asbestos to become lodged or stuck inside the lining of your lungs.

Your abdomen is another significantly vital part of the body, which is why you never want to have to hear that you have peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma is also caused from mistakenly breathing in asbestos fibers, and the cancer begins to develop in your abdomen and take over your organs. While this isn’t quite as common as pleural mesothelioma, it is in fact still somewhat popular with about 20% of diagnosed cases with this type of cancer in the abdomen.

Meeting the Experts

A mesothelioma prognosis is extremely difficult, even for the highest qualified and top rated physicians and doctors. Most likely the first person you will meet with is a general practitioner, who isn’t really qualified to fully diagnose you yet. This general practitioner will look to the help of radiologists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, pulmonologists, and other higher-level experts who probably have greater knowledge on the symptoms of mesothelioma, which is also related to lung cancer. Hopefully your general practitioner will even be able to call one of the experts in to discuss the symptoms you are having and diagnose you in person, instead of just simply relaying the information to the general practitioner and then back to you in a less informative and reliable translation.

Compensation For Mesothelioma

Asbestos Hazards Leading To Mesothelioma

Ever heard of the term “popcorn ceiling”? Most people have, and for good reason. This is a popular kind of textured ceiling on older homes from the mid 1960’s. Over time, people started to realize that these popcorn ceilings were made from white asbestos, the main cause for the cancer known as mesothelioma. What began to happen was, people started to renovate and repaint their homes and the asbestos materialized ceilings were beginning to deteriorate, giving many people symptoms of mesothelioma, ultimately to realize they were in fact victim to this terrible form of cancer.

Supposedly the reason these homes were made with popcorn ceiling was to “reduce noise” from footsteps on the floor above or because it’s harder to see scrapes and blemishes in a textured ceiling vs. a plain flat ceiling. A large flat ceiling is without a doubt noisier and dirtier looking than a popcorn ceiling, yet which one is more expensive to build? It’s likely that popcorn ceilings were the cheaper option, resulting in many people being diagnosed with mesothelioma thanks to companies comparative negligence that the popcorn ceilings contain asbestos which everyone knows is harmful to your lungs.

While they were very popular during this time, it’s not right that simply because some innocent person wants to paint their ceilings a different color, and then finds out they have a life threatening form of cancer. This wasn’t realized until decades later, and wasn’t traced back to popcorn ceilings until years after that. Apparently, once the ceilings are installed and painted over, they don’t impose any risk at all in the people living in the home. Only until the ceiling breaks down or is painted over, does the asbestos material then flake off and fall onto the floor, resulting in people unknowingly inhaling the harsh material and years later being diagnosed for mesothelioma.

Some construction materials as well as breaks on cars in general often contain some amount of asbestos. This exposure plus a combination of smoking has been found to increase the risk of lung cancer by almost 90 percent, according to Asbestos.com. Even the wives of construction workers and industrial mechanics have been found to have an increased risk to developing mesothelioma. The real question is, however, how are these innocent people being compensated for this tragic occurrence?

Necessary Compensation

There a many different ways to receive legal compensation if you have become a victim to mesothelioma. Even though it can be a scary thing to fight for, or if you’re afraid of suing and other legal implications, you need to get what you deserve. There are many asbestos lawyers who will fight for what you deserve as well, all it takes is the will to be compensated the necessary costs for these companies irresponsibilities. Searching for the best mesothelioma lawyers and top mesothelioma attorneys is no easy task, but it’s worth it in the long run when you consider what was taken away from you. Cancer is no easy situation, and no one should have to go through it based on someone else’s fault.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

What is Asbestos?

Since most people know of Asbestos as used in insulation for many things, they begin to assume that it’s a man made product. Actually, it’s a naturally occuring metamorphic mineral found in many parts of the world. Canada has been the leading producer of asbestos for years now. It’s found in a fiber-like form, which is what makes it useful for insulation in pipes, walls and buildings. There are other uses for asbestos in addition to insulation, such as when asbestos and concrete are mixed together, a stronger form of concrete is formed, which saves on the amount of concrete needed to be used.

How Asbestos Can Lead to Mesothelioma

Since asbestos is made up of many tiny microscopic fibers, they can sometimes be released into the air when disturbed by quick movements. When there are large clumps of these tiny fibers placed together in a tight location and then adjusted, these fiber-like particles can be released into the air. The particles can also stick to clothing, and other things around our homes or workplaces. Once they are in the air, we begin to breathe in these particles unknowingly, since they are naturally easy to inhale because of their tiny lightweight size. Inside our body, they cannot be broken down or destroyed once they have entered the lungs, thus resulting in these tiny microscopic particles eating away at the mesothelium lining of our lungs, causing mesothelioma.

How to Prevent Asbestos From Contaminating Your Home

If the asbestos in your walls as insulation is in good condition, then its best to just leave it alone. There shouldn’t be any unsealed cracks or spaces from your wall to your house. If there is any, and there is also disturbed asbestos in your walls, then this means that the asbestos particles could eventually float there way out of the wall and into the air that you breathe in your home. Also, hiring the right person for the job in the first place can make sure you never have to worry. It’s never a good idea to hire a cheap company to install insulation, only to risk your life to simply a bad installation. Once you begin to notice coughing and shortness of breath or other symptoms, it’s already too late. If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will need to find a doctor that specializes in this type of cancer. You will also need to a mesothelioma lawyer to get the compensation you deserve to cover medical expenses.

To repair any building that has had problems with asbestos in the air, most likely this involves hiring a trained professional to the location to remove disturbed asbestos and also seal the holes or spaces in your walls that are leading the particles into your home. There are certain types of sealants or other materials that are used to link the asbestos fibers together once again and make sure it isn’t disturbed and released into the air once again. Any pipes that have insulation around them, which contains asbestos, can be covered with any sort of protective wrap or jacket where the asbestos-filled insulation is exposed. It’s also never too late to hire someone to come inspect your home or building to make sure no asbestos has seeped through the walls into the air. Preventative maintenance is your best friend when it comes to making sure asbestos isn’t in the air you breathe.