LOS ANGELES—The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute raised $250,000 for asbestos cancer research at a benefit concert on Saturday, February 10, 2007. Over 350 guests gathered to hear Grammy Award- winning jazz trumpeter Chris Botti give the performance of a lifetime. Chris and his band were joined by Jordan Zevon who warmed the crowd with his father’s, Warren Zevon’s, classic “Werewolves of London.”
Guests were eager to talk with Barbara McQueen who made an appearance to support mesothelioma research. She shared personal stories about her time with late husband, Steve McQueen the international movie legend. Barbara autographed copies of her latest book, “Steve McQueen: The Last Mile” as well as never before seen photos she took of Steve over 25 years ago.
Another champion, Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France, raised his voice with others about the need to end asbestos-related cancer. Those able to attend enjoyed a musical night together with all proceeds from the event benefiting the Punch Worthington Research Lab, a division of PHLBI.
Breakthrough Night for “Orphan” Disease
The fundraiser was truly a breakthrough for advocates of mesothelioma research. Caused by asbestos exposure, “meso” has long been considered an orphan disease as it receives relatively little funding from traditional cancer research channels, even though 3,000-4,000 people are newly diagnosed each year. Research funding greatly lags behind the disease’s impact.
Dr. Robert Cameron, chief of thoracic surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and one of PHLBI’s Scientific Advisors, was pleased that so many joined together for the cause, including his own patients. Guests crowded around Dr. Cameron and his slideshow presentation to learn about PHLBI’s exciting new research. He said, “This event shows what can happen when people pull together for mesothelioma research. We have promising projects underway that may lead to more effective management of this disease for this and future generations.”
Terry Lynch, PHLBI Director and Vice President and Health and Hazard Administrator for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union, said, “This was an impressive event, raising money for an important cause. The research projects underway at PHLBI are important to help treat mesothelioma patients. The union supports that mission.”
Lynch’s union donated $15,000 to the fundraiser. Other large donors include the estate of David “Punch” Worthington with a donation of $60,000; the law firm Simon, Eddins, and Greenstone gave $50,000; Roger Worthington (PHLBI Director) donated $25,000; John Markovich (PHLBI Director) donated $10,000; law firm Simmons Cooper donated $10,000; and asbestos manufacturer Owens-Illinois contributed $5,000 to the event.
Auction items raised an additional $9,000 including sculptures by Eric Peltzer and Alex Pavlenko, paintings by Rick Delanty and Thomas Schmidt, autographed limited edition copies of Barbara McQueen’s book “The Last Mile,” and signed photographs of Steve McQueen taken by his wife Barbara.
Upcoming Clinical Trial
Over the next six months PHLBI is recruiting union workers who were former heavy smokers and also exposed to asbestos for a free clinical trial using Celebrex. Celebrex is being tested as a preventive treatment for lung cancer for those who might be at risk. Dr. Jenny Mao of UCLA is overseeing the trial. Learn more about the eligibility requirements at http://www.lungcancerprevention.com or contact Jessica Like to be involved in this exciting opportunity.