Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guest blogger for ADAO's 10th annual Asbestos Awareness Conference 4 to 6 April Washington, DC

I was asked by ADAO to become a guest blogger and blog about my journey from Australia to Washington, DC.  I fly out on 2 April 2014 - 3 sleeps!

Posted on March 29, 2014
Guest blog by Lou Williams, 2014 Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Alan Reinstein Award Honoree
Lou Williams Guest Blog BORDER_edited-1

I am so excited to be well enough to fly and attend the 10th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference, “Where Knowledge and Action Unite” on April 4 – 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. I will be also guest blogging for ADAO about my journey, feelings, and experiences so each of you can join me.

When ADAO contacted me last year (2013) and asked if I would accept this award – I was just so humbled by being asked to accept an award!  I thought to myself  ‘Why should I be singled out to accept an award when there are so many other warriors who are more deserving than myself!

It truly is an honour to accept this award on behalf of all other brave and beautiful warriors who are not able to have a voice anymore, and one of those warriors was my dear father who lost his life in 1985 to Mesothelioma.

The fight continues to ban asbestos on a global scale.   America still has not banned asbestos! 

We still have a long fight ahead of us for a worldwide ban on eradicating asbestos.  Small steps like coming together in unity at 10th annual ADAO’s asbestos conference goes a long way in promoting unity, awareness, education and support for each other to join forces and march onwards until asbestos is banned/eradicated entirely from the world!

I’m off to pack and will write again on Monday.

Lou Williams

Louise (Lou) Williams BLOG Asbestos – Living with Mesothelioma in Australia
Lou Williams – Asbestos Awareness, Information and Support Officer – Bernie Banton Foundation
“Lou Williams is the Asbestos Awareness, Advocacy awareness, Information and Support Officer with – Bernie Banton Foundation. Louise (Lou) Williams, is a mother, a grandmother, wife, and lives with the ‘asbestos’ cancer mesothelioma. Lou lost her father aged 54, in 1985 to pleural mesothelioma. Since then she has been passionate and dedicated in raising asbestos awareness, advocacy and support both in Australia and globally.
In 2001 she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and bravely fought that with extensive surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately in 2009 she was then diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, which required major surgery & extensive chemotherapy.
Her battle is never ending, and quite often unforgiving, throughout Lou is a very positive lady, her strengths shine through with her giving of hope, love and support to victims and their carers.

In June 2013 Lou was awarded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation‘s (ADAO), 2014 Alan Reinstein Award. This award recognises Lou’s commitment to education, advocacy and support to countless patients and families around the world.

Lou has served on boards of anti asbestos support organisations since 2003, and is a valued member of the Bernie Banton Foundation team, serving as the Asbestos Awareness, Information and Support Officer.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ban asbestos! It kills! 5 more sleeps until I fly to Washington for ADAO's 10th annual Asbestos Conference!

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is proud to announce that Janelle Bedel, Heather Von St James, and Lou Williams will be recognized with the 2014 Alan Reinstein award on April 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C. ADAO is deeply grateful to each of these women for their dedication and commitment to education, advocacy, and support to patients and families around the world. 
 The above picture is of Heather and myself who will be both attending this conference.

 Sadly our brave and young warrior Janelle lost her battle with mesothelioma.  She was a true fighter to the end and dearly loved by all.  Her father will attending the conference to receive her well deserved award.  Janelle was an inspiration to all - her courage and determination to make a difference will never be forgotten.   We love you beautiful angel - sleep in peace.

When ADAO contacted me last year (2013) and asked if I would accept this award - I was just so humbled by being asked to accept an award!  I thought to myself  'Why should I be singled out to accept an award when there are so many other warriors who are more deserving than myself!
It truly is an honour to accept this award on behalf of all other brave and beautiful warriors who are not able to have a voice anymore, and one of those warriors was my dear father who lost his life in 1985 to mesothelioma.

The fight continues to ban asbestos on a global scale.   America still has not banned asbestos!  We still have a long fight ahead of us for a worldwide ban on eradicating asbestos.  Small steps like coming together in unity such as this 10th annual ADAO's asbestos conference goes a long way in promoting unity, awareness, education and support for each other to join forces and march onwards until asbestos is banned/eradicated entirely from the world!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oncology results and a day in the city of Melbourne

Last Friday I had my blood tests and saw my oncologist Dr Allan Zimet on Tuesday 25 March 2014 for results and the okay to fly to Washington for the annual ADAO Asbestos Conference.

Allan gave me the green light to fly with a letter to show Qantas airlines just in case they were to question my flying given that I have advanced mesothelioma.

My bloods were fine and I am to have a scan upon my return from America, then see Allan end of April for results.

I remember last year when I flew to the ADAO Asbestos Conference in Washington with Bernie Banton Foundation as I had to have a scan prior to going.  It was very much touch and go as to whether I would be able to fly due to pain and breathing difficulties at the time.  Luckily my appointment on the evening before we were due to fly out of Australia - my oncologist gave the okay to fly.   Thanks to my fellow friends of Bernie Banton Foundation I was able to have 3 seats together and lie down for most of the flight thereby easing the fluid buildup in my tummy/abdomen area and with the help of morphine based medication I was able to have a comfortable flight over and back.  Most of the times my breathing behaved itself although the smaller flights between Washington and New York caused a bit of concern however I MADE IT!  I spoke at the Conference.
This picture is of my wonderful oncologist Dr Allan Zimet and myself on 25 March in his rooms at John Fawkner Hospital, Melbourne.   What a good looking doctor!  No wonder I have been seeing him for all of these years!  Honestly it is thanks to Allan that I believe one of the main reasons why I am still here today and living well.  So thank you with all my heart!

Today I caught the express coach into the city of Melbourne as the train was delayed so a bus was used for the journey.  So much quicker down the freeway and into Southern Cross railway station.  A quick change to a metro train for one station and within 5 minutes I was at Flinders St station and walking across the Yarra River to the NGA (National Art Gallery) to catch up with my eldest daughter Jo and little grandkids Henry and Oliver for a couple of hours.  Below is Henry aged 4 climbing!

Having seen Jo and kids to their car in St Kilda Road, I walked back over the bridge into the city and went to my favourite hairdresser and stylist - Just Cuts, The Galleria, Cnr Bourke and Elizabeth St.  I love going there - staff are friendly, professional and I get a quick style cut within 20 minutes - no time consuming and exhausting sitting in the chair for an hour or so.  That is one of the things that I hate doing anymore since living with mesothelioma as I find it so exhausting.  No pictures for the moment!  Lisa at Just Cuts mentioned that anyone who has been touched by any cancer and needed to have a wig, they are only to pleased to 'shave' their head in a private and comfortable room for free!

I walked up Bourke St to Southern Cross station and caught the V line country train home.  Part of the walk was slight uphill and I found myself a little short of breath however I just walked through it!
When I do come into the city via train, I try to walk everywhere including taking the many stairs at the stations rather than the lift or escalator as many other passengers do not even hesitate to do!   The train takes just over an hour and is a nice modern and comfortable service with actual conductors on the train.  So if anyone misbehaves then they are soon put in their place and sometimes put off the train! 

I have a photographer coming at 9am tomorrow morning for a newspaper photo and a phone interview just after.  I guess that I need to tidy quickly the house up inside as I think this lovely rain we are now experiencing will keep happening so a photo inside might be the go this time rather than outside!

6 sleeps until we leave for Washington - more on this in my next blog!

Our beautiful young and brave warrior Michael who is only 29 years with deadly mesothelioma in America is not doing too well.  My heart goes out to him and his mum. His mum and myself were messaging at 4am last night her time.  She was beside herself seeing him in a foetal position on the floor in so much pain and there was absolutely nothing that she could do except give him love and support.

A beautiful girlfriend and dear friend on the Gold Coast, Queensland has just been to Sydney and had intensive radiation seeds straight into her liver.  She is back home now and not doing to well - I hope her pain can be regulated fast.  She is such a brave and gutsy lady!

Life is not fair at times.  My saying is live in the moment and let the universe take care of the big picture.  Similar to what my oncologist and myself say - When something presents itself then we deal with it ... . 

I believe that is what has gotten me through so much over the years living with mesothelioma!

So more on my trip to Washington in the next blog!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ban Asbestos in Unity - a very powerful message in the sands of Greens Beach Tasmania

Looking forward again to catching up with the couple from Launceston tomorrow at their home for lunch and a chat- he has pleural mesothelioma.   We were brought together thanks to my artwork in the sand!A few days ago while I was walking along the beautiful and peaceful beach at a little cove/seaside town in Tasmania called Greens Beach, as there was no one else on the beach I decided spur of the moment to draw this heart in the sand with this powerful message as I felt it reaches out worldwide with a very important message.

I stood back and went to take a photograph when all of a sudden a couple appeared from 'no where' and asked if they could 'take a look at my artwork'!   I showed them, they looked at each other and went a pale shade of grey and said ''a friend of ours was recently diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and he lives in Launceston'!   (Launceston is a main city and about 1 hour away from Greens Beach).   I said that I would leave my details in an envelope at the local shop/general store for them to give to their friend.   A few days later I received a phone call from their friend - Rohan.   What makes this story even more amazing is that this couple live and work in Colarado, US and were back home visiting so it really was a chance connection!  They gave my details to another friend who dropped in to see Rohan and he gave my letter to him.   This friend was due to fly to the Antarctic area the very next day to work there for a year!

Rohan and his beautiful wife Barb came to visit us at Greens Beach then last Monday we visited them at their lovely home for a chat and lunch.   That morning a guy newly diagnosed had contacted Rohan thru another friend and in turn Rohan was able to pass this guy's details on to me and I made contact that night with him.   What an amazing world we live in when this is able to happen!  Both Rohan and this other guy now have support of others living with mesothelioma plus I have put them in touch with Bernie Banton Foundation and other contacts that they needed.   Plus linking Rohan's wife Barb with facebook friends and various groups on a worldwide scale.  They are not on their own having to face this terrible battle by themselves - there is support out there, unfortunately it is not readily available to all.   We need to continue to find these other newly diagnosed people and their partners so they do not have to follow this path on their own.

Yesterday I did an interview with the Launceston Examiner newspaper with a wonderful journalist/writer Alex Druce who is very passionate about helping to spread the word on the deadly dangers of asbestos.   I had done a previous inteview and story with him a few months ago and this one is a follow up to that story.   I asked if Rohan could come along and tell his story, so Rohan was able to attend, be interviewed with Alex and  tell his powerful story - he is a local guy who trained as a plumber and gasfitter - his known exposure was when he was as young as 16 and an apprentice plumber.  The story will be in Sunday's newspaper.  Thank you Alex and also to Rohan - in unity raising awareness!

We sailed home on the overnight ferry last night from Devonport Tasmania to Melbourne Australia.   A good calm crossing and the ship was only half full making it a much more pleasant trip.   We both watched the first movie at the cinema on board 'Hotel Marigold' set in India with Judy Dench - then Keith went an had a rest/sleep in his ocean recliner while I stayed until midnight and watched Blue Jasmine with Cate Blanchett.

Charlie our beautiful 7 yr old Siamese cat was waiting at home for us when we arrived.   He has been very clingy all day and very vocal telling us all about his time without us!  He now is on my lap stretched out with his right paw over my arm fast asleep!  Keith is also fast alseep in bed.

On our last night we stayed with our dear friends Cathie and Colin in their beautiful newly renovated apartment (really half an enormous Edwardian home) that they are renting out on short term stays to anyone who wants to stay right in Launceston it is the perfect place and location.  We went out to a lovely family run since 1979 Italian restaurant with our other dear friends as well.   Vino and conversation flowed easily combined with the beautiful food.   Our friend Roz wanted to do the toasting of raised glasses.   I now know why!   Roz's speech went something like this 'Lou here is an award from your dear friends and it is from all the people you have counselled and helped.   Thanks for your friendship and love.  Congratulations on your award for giving selflessly.  Enjoy our award to you for ongoing courage and strength - wear with pride!   I had tears in my eyes - I was not expecting this beautiful speech from Roz and especially my award - a beautiful dragon fly pendant!   I will be wearing it at the ADAO 's Asbestos Conference in Washington when I attend soon.   In fact  I fly out on 2 April!   11 sleeps from tonight!

This picture below is a very graphic and real photograph of a young guy in America who is only 29 and fighting for his life with mesothelioma cancer.   He should be having a carefree life - not fighting for his life!

We need to  'Ban Asbestos in Unity' as having a united global front is the only way that this will ever happen.   Too many innocent lives are still being exposed daily to deadly asbestos fibres.   Mesothelioma is a cruel cancer and we need to keep taking action and fighting for a global ban.   By coming together through asbestos conferences we can achieve so much on a united front including research, awareness, advocacy and support.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lou is coming to Washington for ADAO's Asbestos Awareness Conference

 I am going to Washington!  Below is the recent announcement released in a statement by Linda Reinstein, Co-Founder/CEO at Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

'I am so excited to announce that Lou Williams will be attending the 10th Annual ADAO International Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Asbestos Awareness Conference on April 4 – 6, 2014 in DC!!! ADAO sends our sincere thanks to the Asbestos Safety & Eradication Council for funding Lou's flight to Washington, DC. Geoff Fary and Peter Tighe. Together, change is happening and I believe in magic!!♥ Ellen Tunkelrott
A big thank you to Linda Reinstein, ADAO and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council in Australia for believing in me - I am just so so thrilled to be coming and to feel well enough to make it!

Last year I was honoured to be part of the Bernie Banton Foundation team to attend the 9th Annual ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference.  To be asked back there is a great honour for me and especially as I am feeling really well and able to fly!   Now that funding has been received, I have been busy making plans to book airfares for my sister in law who will accompany me over there and myself.   It has been quite difficult to book flights to suit, given the short time frame of just one month before we leave.  Finally as of yesterday we are booked and confirmed on flights and will leave here on 2 April and arrive in Washington on 2 April!   The flight to Los Angeles (LAX) airport will be just on 15 hours, a wait of 6 hours then fly to Washington on a flight of 6 hours.  I had thought of a stopover on the way to rest and break the long flight however there were no flights the day before that suited so that is why we are flying on 2 April and arriving for the conference on 2 April due to the time difference.

Linda has forwarded my schedule for the conference - I am looking forward to being busy!  It is going to be a full on conference and very well planned with excellent speakers as well - more on the conference later.  This conference is a very powerful way for all to come together on a global scale in unity and raise asbestos awareness, advocacy and education.

What a wonderful and powerful warrior Mavis Nye from UK is!  Mavis you are an amazing warrior!   Here is some of what Mavis has been up to this week.

25/02/2014 - UNITED KINGDOM
'History was made yesterday with Lord Saatchi presenting his First Google hangout of The Innovation Bill and I was on the Panel’

There are some brave warriors who are doing it tough at the moment - including - Damon, Ian, Steve and Michael - myt heart goes out to them and may they be on the road to recovery soon.

We are still in Tasmania - today we had a working bee in the garden and again tomorrow a big job.  A digging machine arrived this morning early as we are putting in a retaining fence with treated railway sleepers (not containing asbestos) and a driveway.  Plus tidying and weeding the garden that is quite overgrown.
A walk on the beach later this evening was a must before a warm shower to wash off all the day's dirt and hard work that we all contributed to.

On that note I will say good night and be up early tomorrow morning for another day's working bee.