Calvin worked at Singley Construction on Mississippi's land-based oil rigs in the early 1980s. "We mixed the drilling mud on the rigs and never wore safety equipment," he says. "We just wore our regular work clothes and a hard hat, and no one ever said it contained asbestos. I didn't find out until recently that this material you make mud with was toxic. Why didn't they tell us?"
And if asbestos drilling mud exposure isn't troubling enough, Calvin worked at Pioneer Aerospace, a parachute factory, for five years on weekends. "The building was condemned and torn down about five years ago because it was full of asbestos," he says.
Calvin, a Desert Storm vet, was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and has undergone several surgeries since. "The roof of my mouth was removed and replaced with a flap and I have had a number of surgeries on my sinuses because the cancer keeps blocking them," he explains.
"When I was first diagnosed, doctors asked me if I worked around asbestos. At that time I didn't know. It wasn't until 2007 that I found out asbestos drilling mud and asbestos drywall contributed to, or was the entire blame for, my cancer. That was when I asked my health provider for a complete screening. I had chest x-rays and then they put some dye in my arm and I had a MRI—the asbestos fibers showed up."
Calvin's doctor told him that he had asbestos in his lungs. Up until that time he couldn't understand where the cancer came from; he never smoked and he was in really good shape. And he was young, in the prime of life. Calvin was diagnosed with lung adenocarcinoma, a disease linked to occupational exposure to asbestos. (See more here.)
"I also understand why my doctor won't come right out and attribute this cancer directly to asbestos," adds Calvin. "It is hard to get a doctor to blame your illness on asbestos, especially here in Mississippi, because the companies are still pumping oil. These doctors don't want to rock the well."
READ MORE ASBESTOS DRILLING MUD LEGAL NEWS
"I would like to file a claim against the parachute factory; they knew the building was infested with asbestos while we worked there. I found out from co-workers; they have had multiple lawsuits already filed against the company. Of course I could have got it from Singley construction too—maybe go after both of them? I guess an asbestos attorney can decide on that."