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Archive for February, 2013

Preparing for Vegas – Preparing for the Death of a Loved One

Linda Reinstein ADAO & Larry Davis

Linda Reinstein ADAO & Larry Davis

As I struggled weighing through my options and my finances in regards to whether or not I could make the trip to Las Vegas for the 2013 Meso Foundation’s Annual gathering, I’m reminded of so many things that have happened during the months since my father’s death. I thought I’d take a moment to remember and to write so that those of you out there can also be prepared.

First I commend the Meso Foundation Board & Staff for all they do. I did not take advantage of the resources they provide nearly enough before or after my father died. These gatherings/conferences/symposiums are a great place to seek out information. My father seemed to do an excellent job meeting people and having discussions with everyone, from survivors & patients to doctors and Foundation members. The Foundation offers panels on treatments, and fundraising and getting politicians to respond and legislate. There are also support groups, help-lines and social media circles for nearly every turn along the terrible path of destruction Mesothelioma leaves behind. There are also bright spots along the way and many of them are linked to the helpful folks you will find at the Foundation.

Larry Davis and Erica Ruble, Foundation fundraising coordinator.

Larry Davis and Erica Ruble, Foundation fundraising coordinator.

So, in preparing for your trip to Vegas … check out the agenda. See what is good for you and make a plan. Next try to meet other attendees as well as the hosts and forge new relationships. I can tell you right now that 2 of the most supportive people in my father’s life, and in mine, were members of 2 different organizations. One who is the #1 fundraiser for the Meso Foundation and the other, the head of ADAO (Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization). Granted my father was such a huge personality that I got both of them by default and by proxy, but they were there for me in the flesh when the time came to bury my dad. Also, from what I understand on the agenda, there is a legal panel meeting Thursday night and on Friday, one of the strongest women I know, Janelle Bedel,  is teamed up with some other extraordinary folks in the ‘conversation with the community’ panel.

Remember that there will be others there for the first time and some repeat offenders, as my dad might say. Everyone struggles with this disease differently, but there is bound to be a person or two you can relate to.

Mary Hesdorffer, Foundation Executive Director

Mary Hesdorffer, Foundation Executive Director

These things and more over, these people, can help prepare you for later. This symposium can be the launching point for very sincere conversations about what will happen. There was no secret.  My father was going to die from Mesothelioma. We didn’t know a lot about it. There isn’t currently a cure. But together we walked through it and we learned a lot along the way. I had a few, what I call “extra” years with my dad. Not everyone gets as long as I did. The end was sad and scary and he was so strong … and it was a community that kept him going. His family, his runners, his business partners and his friends in the meso community who fought for new information, for a cure, for funding, for legislation, who fought for him and gave him direction during some very dark days.

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Meso Symposium 2013 LAS VEGAS

mesosymvegasYay! I’m heading to Vegas for the 2013 Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s Annual Symposium.

I haven’t been to the Symposium in two years. Not since my father was alive. Last year I had to cancel because it was looking as though my dad, Larry Davis, was deteriorating in health quite rapidly. I felt terrible, especially since I was hoping to help out behind the scenes, but in the end I knew it was the right call. He passed shortly before the event and I was in no position to attend in the weeks following his death. This year will be the first year in which I will go without him.

meso2012

Larry Davis accepts the 2011 Meso Foundation “Volunteer of the Year” award

Two years ago my father was awarded the Meso Foundation’s 2011 “Volunteer of the Year” for his fundraising achievements. He had raised about $50,000 through his annual South Florida Mile For Meso road race and his online donation page. A few months later the law firm of Levy, Phillips and Konigsberg designated him the “Advocate of the Month” through their STOP MESOTHELIOMA campaign.

This year the Meso Foundation has announced an award in honor of my father’s accomplishments as a fundraiser, advocate and six year survivor. The Larry Davis Memorial Grant will go to Joost Hegmans, a Post-Doc researcher at the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Hegmans’ work on determining the macrophage recruitment/polarization as a prognostic and therapeutic target and whether it can aid in/be a cure for malignant mesothelioma has impressed the Meso board so much that they’ve awarded the grant to him, in my father’s name.

My Aunt Marilyn (dad’s sister) and Uncle Paul (brother in-law) will join me at the Gala Dinner on Friday March 8th. We look forward to honoring my dad, as well as all the other people who have been involved in raising the more than $100,000 it takes to back new research … and hopefully, a cure.

Like my father said at the end of each email, “Believe in a Cure – Believe in Yourself”.

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