Urging Trudeau to Ban Asbestos in Canada once and for all

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In May of this year, 2016 my Dad, Robert Porter, became ill. A couple weeks later he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a cancer he had developed from Asbestos exposure during his career as a pipe/steam-fitter.

On August 16, 2016, my Dad was dead at the age of 65. My family and I are devastated, especially knowing he died so quickly and so needlessly. I'm hoping we can at least save others. I urge you to read the letter below and sign this petition to ensure that Prime Minister Trudeau follows through on his promise to ban the substance that is still being used in Canada today.

The details of my father's story are below.

We were not a rich family by any means, our family lived paycheck to paycheck. My Mom and Dad doing everything they could to make sure us 4 kids had food, clothes and a safe place to live/sleep. My Dad worked as a steamfitter/pipefitter during his career. He was employed with UA Local 67. The work was not always constant, so each time he was laid off, it was trips every day to the Union Hall in hopes to find a new posting that would match his skills. He worked as hard as he could in each of these jobs, often being gone before the sun came up in the morning only to get home after the sun had gone down. My Mom worked as a social worker and had to work a lot of evenings. When my brothers and I got home from school we would wait impatiently for Dad to get home. Once he did, he was always dirty, smelt of things I could never quite put my finger on...something sort of chemical-like, sort of like oil and other scents that I couldn't quite put my finger on. He'd get something out for us for dinner, have a bath/shower, drink a beer, put us to bed, and he'd go to bed. Wake up the next day and do it all over again.

There is a lot that I could go into in regards to our family life but I have a feeling it's very similar to yours (whomever is reading this), or maybe to some of your co-workers, or maybe to the Canadian population in general. The thing is though, in those jobs my Dad went to every day of his life, he was actually being exposed to asbestos. I have since learned that some major manufacturers of asbestos -knew- back then how dangerous it was but had research and tests fabricated to support their claims that it was safe. Those same companies have now multiple class-action law suits on their hands for this negligence. Because of asbestos being so popular during that time, and because of my Dad's profession, we have no idea where or how exactly he was exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibers that would settle into his lungs as a slow, silent killer.

About 5 months ago, my Dad had been having some issues with breathing, coughing, and chest pain. He was still doing most of his usual tasks however just trying to cope through it. Eventually the doctor sent him for chest x-rays, where they found fluid in his lungs. Quite possibly pneumonia. They did some fluid samples and told him to go home and take it easy. On the night of Sunday, May 22nd, I got a message from my brother saying the hospital had called and was urging him to get to the hospital as they had found some concerning results in his chest fluid. We all rushed in to St. Joseph's and that night became the beginning of the end for my Dad.

They found a bacteria and wanted him to remain for antibiotic drip and more tests/observation. I spent the whole night with him and my Mom that night making sure we didn't leave until they had settled him and found a bed for him. I remember him being in a lot of pain, confused, and scared (although I know he was trying to pretend not to be).

He would spend the next couple weeks there. Eventually the doctors were fairly certain my Dad had "mesothelioma" a cancer of the lining in the lung that causes pleural effusions and is 100% a result of asbestos exposure. Later, a biopsy would confirm this. We got the biopsy results in mid-June. My Dad was able to go home for about a 2 week stretch in and around this time. The plan was for him to get as much strength, gain as much weight as possible so that we could consider chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He was hopeful and positive about it (or at least he was trying to give us that impression). We understood though that these treatments wouldn't cure him, but could maybe prolong his life. His current outlook was maybe a year - year and a half at best.

What continued to happen I still don't really understand. But my Dad didn't get better or stronger or gain weight. He got worse, the pain got worse. He couldn't eat. He had to have multiple surgeries and eventually a tube inserted into his lungs at all times to drain the accumulating liquid. Eventually my Mom had no choice but to admit him back to the hospital because she was frightened for him. That was June 30th. We hoped that it would be temporary and the doctors at Juravinski would be able to help him. But he never made it back home again.

My Dad soon became extremely delirious. Everything he was as a person, was very quickly being taken away. He was miserable and suffering all the time. He argued with us to take him home because he didn't understand what was happening. He was living in a different world where, the few moments we had of him where his mind was clear, we had to explain to him all over again that he has cancer and why he's in the hospital. I still don't know if he had any idea what was really happening to him.

I left my 40+ hr/week job near the end of July so I could devote any energy I had to being by his and my Mom's side. I spent nearly every day with him, trying to get him to eat/drink, help him go to the washroom, help him to be as comfortable as possible. All in the hopes that maybe just maybe we could get him over this hump and get him a little, even just a little bit better once again so that he could enjoy some degree of life again. All the while I watched him become thinner and thinner and weaker. The doctors at Juravinski were trying everything they could but the cancer was winning. Finally, in the very early hours of August 16th, 2016, my Dad took his final, struggled breath. I'll never be able to get that image out of my mind of what he looked like when he died. I'll never be able to go back in time and try to spend more time with him before he died, before he lost his mind and all sense of self. I'll never be able to go back and warn him about this disease, this cancer called mesothelioma and that he should watch out for it due to his work with asbestos back in the day. I didn't even know what mesothelioma was before my Dad had it, heck I didn't even know that asbestos was still being used.

But maybe at the very least, we can finally pursue our government to ban asbestos completely as it still has not been done, as it has been promised by the Liberal party, as thousands if not millions of other Canadians are still at risk and many are going to be diagnosed with asbestos-causing cancers and diseases in the next few years.

Mesothelioma has an incubation period of 10-30 years. Knowing how rampant the substance was prior to the 80's I can only imagine how many people in our own community have already received this death sentence and have no idea.

I'm asking you, pleading with you, to help. This is a case where awareness actually CAN make an impact. If more people know about mesothelioma, perhaps this can become a common thing that patients and doctors will keep at the forefront of their minds when it's known that a person has more than likely come into contact with asbestos. If my Dad had been diagnosed sooner, we at very least could have given him a better quality of life at the end and/or prolonged his time with us. Maybe he could have even done more things he really wanted to do. He went from my Dad who I took for granted and who always did things like cutting the grass, doing maintenance around the house etc (as recently as this very spring), to being a man who didn't know where or who he was, to a man that is now suddenly dead and gone forever.

Aside from making sure the general public truly understands how they are or already have been at risk, we can urge our government to finally put a ban to asbestos once and for all..(how is it not already knowing everything we know???).

There are others who are out walking around right now, with their families, going about their daily lives completely clueless what is coming for them tomorrow or next week, and because Canada has yet to ban asbestos, more people are still being exposed to this horrible carcinogen.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of my family for even reading this. I hope you will sign your name to this petition, and make sure you or anyone you know talks to a doctor if there is a concern about asbestos exposure.

Sharon Porter

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