Asbestos symptoms became very apparent in the life of Steve McQueen who 25 years ago found it impossible to run 15 yards on a movie set without the benefit of an oxygen mask. McQueen was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and died a year later. In fact, most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma die within two years of that diagnosis!
McQueen had been exposed to asbestos in at least three different ways.
McQueen’s first exposure to the deadly substance occurred in his younger years in the construction trades. In those days the cheap and abundant mineral was used in all kinds of plasters, sheetrock and adhesives just to name a few. His second exposure happened in the Marines where he was assigned the task of taking asbestos insulation off of steam pipes in large ships. This activity no doubt exposed him to copious amounts of friable asbestos. Finally, Steve McQueen had a lifelong love for auto racing. The helmets and suits for drivers was loaded with asbestos. McQueen surrendered to this deadly disease at age 50 after trying numerous therapies.
Rock stars, athletes and politicians have been victims of asbestos related illness.
A number of athletes have died from mesothelioma. Terry McCann was an Olympic champion wrestler who contracted asbestos over exposure while working in an oil refinery. Merlin Olsen was an all pro football player and famed sportscaster who contracted the illness after years of working with sheet rock in construction work. Congress Bruce Vento and Jimmy Carter Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan, both died of malignant mesothelioma. Bishop Ian Cundy and rock star Warren Zevon were victims too. Zevon could never directly identify his exposure point but this just shows how prevalent asbestos is in our environment.
There have been a few victims who beat the odds.
While it is true that most folks die within two years of diagnosis it is also true that there are exceptions. Stehen Gould, politician, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and lived 20 years. He died of an unrelated illness. It just goes to show you that one should never abandon hope.