Workers Health and Safety Centre On the Cover PROFILES IN The individuals on the front cover of this report share a brutal bond — occupational cancer. Some of them have been stricken with and have died COURAGE of cancer. Others have the disease or live with the very real possibility of contracting it. But what really distinguishes them and their families is their unrelenting determination to make a difference. By telling their stories in the Workers Centre video, Before Their Time, they’ve refused to be silent victims. Rather, they’ve become activists in a real “war on cancer” — one that prizes primary prevention of cancer as much as it prizes the pursuit of cancer treatment and care. Together their efforts have sparked provincial and national campaigns to eradicate carcinogens in our workplaces and our communities. Here are some of their stories. Gerry Mills, a mine warehouse worker, thought he was safe working on the surface, certainly safer than working in the mine. But Gerry died of colon cancer at age 51 after years of exposure to asbestos and PCB’s. Trish Balon and Lorna Wilson worked as computer operators in Hamilton. They believe occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields caused their breast cancer. They have already buried one co-worker, Maureen Steeves, a 39 year old mother of three, who succumbed to breast cancer. Of their work group, nine have cancer and 20 out of 65 workers have developed tumours. After falling into a puddle of toxic runoff while battling a chemical fire in Hamilton, fire fighter George Cooke’s life has never been the same. Close to a year after the fire he remains off work, suffering permanent lung damage and living with the terrifying possibility that he may develop cancer. Mark Staley followed in his father’s footsteps as a fire fighter. After battling a chemical fire in Kitchener, his father, Ed Staley, died of cancer. Now Mark, his wife and daughter wonder if the same fate will strike him. Delores Bichard, more than her husband John, is angry that he was for years knowingly exposed to asbestos and other hazardous chemicals without proper protection. Bichard, who suffers from cancer, worked for the same employer for over 30 years. Bud Jimmerfield, suffering from esophageal and liver cancer after years of exposure to metalworking fluids on the job, asked for prayers, because that was his last hope. This past January, days after Jimmerfield’s compensation claim was denied, he died.
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