Whenbecame a physician, she never dreamed that it would lead to her death from malignant mesothelioma, but that is exactly what happened.
The successful general practitioner died of the disease shortly after her diagnosis, and her family says that it’s because of asbestos that had been used in the construction of a hospital she worked during the 1970s and 1980s.
Dr. Vizzard’s mesothelioma diagnosis came as a shock. The doctor initially suspected that the pain that she felt in her shoulder was a pulled muscle. It wasn’t until after her colleagues examined her that they discovered that there were mesothelioma tumors throughout her ribcage.
In trying to determine where Dr. Vizzard’s mesothelioma came from, she and her family investigated where she might have been exposed to asbestos. It did not take them long to determine that it had come from a public hospital where she had conducted rounds years earlier.
Asbestos had been used in insulation around the facility’s hot water and steam pipes, and had accumulated on top of ceiling tiles, then leaked down into the air in the hallways. In Australia (where Dr. Vizzard lived), asbestos was widely used in workplace infrastructure.
Now, her surviving family is working to make sure that people are aware of the risks that asbestos that is still in place poses to health.
Her son said, “You sort of associate asbestos cancers with people who may work in industry for all their life, and to have someone who is so removed from what you’d normally expect to be a high-risk industry … It’s one of those unfortunate things that this material that we now know is so deadly managed to find its way to the most innocent of places, even hospitals.”
Asbestos in aging infrastructure continues to pose a threat, both in Australia and around the world, including in the United States.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with the disease and need more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.