Linda Reinstein’s story is one of adversity, transformation and hope. Currently, she is the President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest advocacy group for asbestos victims. She routinely serves as a congressional witness and speaks around the world about the science underpinning the dangers of asbestos.
But it wasn’t always this way — at the time of her husband Alan’s mesothelioma diagnosis in 2003, Linda knew nothing about mesothelioma. As she educated herself and began to educate others, she grew to understand that awareness, when coupled with action, can lead to change.
Linda and ADAO Leadership have spent nearly 20 years building a coalition of lawmakers, scientists and families who demand an asbestos-free future for the world.
“Asbestos isn’t a thing of the past yet. It remains lethal and legal to use in the U.S. to this day,” Linda says. “And the dangers have been known about for over 100 years.”
As a national leading mesothelioma law firm and a platinum sponsor of the ADAO, Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to stand with the ADAO and Linda Reinstein during Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW).
Without her hard work and the collaboration of others, there would be no Global Asbestos Awareness Week at all.
Alan’s Sickness Becomes Linda’s Call to Action
For many years, Linda and her husband Alan had a relatively carefree life. They lived in California, ran marathons together and raised a bright and healthy daughter.
Alan, however, was developing a persistent cough. It didn’t seem like much to worry about, but when he started to lose weight, Linda asked him to get checked out by a doctor — just to be safe.
What followed were months of confusion, tests and misdiagnoses. Finally, a surgeon told them that Alan had mesothelioma, a cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs as a result of exposure to asbestos.
“Like every other person,” said Linda in a 2010 TEDx talk, “I had never heard of mesothelioma, I couldn’t pronounce it, and worse yet, I found that there was no cure.”
At the time of diagnosis, the family was told that Alan had 6-12 months to live. Their daughter was just 10 years old.
Linda set out to learn everything she could about mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Unfortunately, online information and government resources about asbestos were scarce in 2003. She was surprised to find that much of the information she found came from plaintiffs’ groups.
“We faced aggressive treatment options and didn’t know where to turn, the feelings of isolation consumed us,” said Linda. “So, looking back, I’m grateful for those plaintiff websites that shortened my learning curve.”
The truth is that, for many years, the only people fighting for victims of asbestos exposure were attorneys.
By 2004, Linda had newfound knowledge about asbestos, but that did nothing to help Alan. He elected to have surgery in order to spend more time with his family. He learned to live with one lung, but everyone knew it would only delay the inevitable. What was next for their family?
The First of Many Trips to Washington on Behalf of Asbestos Victims
Emily, their daughter, suggested that she and her mother go to Washington, D.C., and speak directly to their senators about her father’s suffering. It was the perfect spark of inspiration for Linda.
In the nation’s capital, they spoke with lawmakers and discovered there were far more people affected by asbestos. They began to wonder: Were asbestos-related diseases rare, or just underreported?
From that moment on, Linda dedicated her life to reducing asbestos exposure and to helping victims of the terrible substance. In 2004, Linda and Doug Larkin, who watched his father-in-law succumb to mesothelioma, cofounded ADAO to fight for a better future.
Together, they knew they had to turn their anger into action or suffer the consequences of silence. Linda often reminds herself and others of the Chinese proverb, “Out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel.” Their fight would be difficult, but through it, they could make powerful change.
ADAO and an Asbestos-Free Future
In many ways, ADAO seeks to provide every victim and their family what Linda didn’t have when Alan received a mesothelioma diagnosis: information, support and a sense of community.
The cancer remains incurable, but victims are no longer in the dark because of people like Linda. They know they are not alone.
ADAO started small but, in the last 19 years, has grown into an influential organization that pushes for the worldwide eradication of asbestos-related diseases.
To accomplish this goal, ADAO focuses its efforts on three interrelated areas.
The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to educate everyone on the risks of asbestos — risks that manufacturers hid for too long. Linda says, the only cure for mesothelioma is prevention.
To work towards this goal, ADAO’s Science and Prevention Advisory Boards provide accessible and accurate asbestos information. Linda and other members of ADAO also present at events around the world and host their own annual conference.
Victims of asbestos-related diseases went unheard in Washington. Because of Linda, their voices are heard, and ADAO’s mission is now well-known.
Linda has testified before both houses of Congress and before many other key policymakers, increasing awareness and communicating the urgency for change.
As a result of her advocacy, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) was reintroduced to Congress in March 2023. Named after Linda’s husband who passed away in 2006, the bill calls for a complete ban on the usage and importation of all types of asbestos. If passed, it would mark the first piece of asbestos legislation in 30 years.
In addition to the ARBAN, the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed S.Res.149 – a resolution designating the first week of April 2023 as “National Asbestos Awareness Week” for the 18th consecutive year.
The resolution calls for continued work to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and urges the U.S. Surgeon General to educate the public on the risks throughout the first week of April.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can often be overwhelming for patients as well as their loved ones. For this reason, ADAO strives to support victims through their darkest moments.
Remembering the loneliness and confusion she felt after Alan was diagnosed, Linda has worked hard through social media and storytelling campaigns to create a caring network of people whose lives have been torn apart by asbestos.
Linda has left her mark on many important community events like the Miles for Meso run and Global Asbestos Awareness Week.
Following Linda’s Lead
So much of asbestos prevention depends on awareness. Someone can live a healthy life and have it altered in an instant if they are not aware of the risks posed by asbestos.
Linda is always busy using social media to raise awareness about asbestos and to advocate for victims.
You can follow her on:
In addition to following the work Linda is doing, she encourages people to raise awareness and advocate for change on their own.
Some ways you can join the efforts include:
- Educate friends and family about the dangers of asbestos, where it can be found, and how to avoid exposure
- Follow organizations like the ADAO on social media and interact with or share their posts
- Listen to stories and offer emotional support to those living with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases
- Send a letter to Congress, urging them to pass the ARBAN bill and make an asbestos-free future possible for America and the world
- Share your own stories about how asbestos has impacted you and your family
No matter how you get involved, follow the online conversation on Twitter by following @SimmonsLawFirm and @Linda_ADAO and by using the #2023GAAW tag.
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