Susan Lawes Story

advocate, Virginia
On Friday, June 10, victims of asbestos poisoning lost a true champion as Susan Lawes succumbed after a heroic three-year battle with mesothelioma. As her many friends in Washington and across the country know, Susan fought tirelessly and with great attitude against the disease, never giving up hope even as she underwent multiple surgeries and treatments. Despite knowledge of the prognosis of the disease, there was nothing that could be done to prepare her friends or family for this loss and she will be terribly missed.

Susan was unknowingly exposed to asbestos as a young child. Her father, a pipe fitter, brought asbestos home on his clothing and she inhaled the toxic mineral when she welcomed him home from work with a hug. Like most asbestos victims, Susan didn't develop mesothelioma until several decades after her exposure.

Even as her health weakened, Susan dedicated much of her time to championing fair treatment for asbestos victims. In her final days, in fact, she discussed bringing television cameras into her life to record the devastation — "anything that will help" was not just a casual statement for Susan, it was a way of life. She truly felt that all asbestos victims should be treated fairly under the law, and her opposition to the current effort to enact a business bailout Trust Fund was legendary.

Her family knew Susan as a beloved wife and family member. We knew her as a fighter. As we continue our fight for asbestos victims across the country, let us always remember her inspiration. Ancient wisdom says that, when one warrior goes down, the rest of us must renew our efforts. Susan will be impossible to replace, both in our political efforts and in the many lives she touched, but her example will continue to inspire us as long as asbestos victims seek justice.