Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that typically develops in the lining of the lungs, stomach or heart. This type of cancer has been linked to asbestos exposure, sometimes as long as 40 to 50 years before the onset of the disease. Once the mesothelioma cancer begins to grow, the prognosis of mesothelioma is distressing. Most mesothelioma patients pass away within one year of their diagnosis. Mesothelioma cancer does not discriminate between rich and poor, famous and unknown. The following list commemorates some of the more famous persons who have died of mesothelioma cancer.
Steve McQueen. The legendary actor starred in a number of memorable movies in the 1970s, including “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Thomas Crown Affair.” McQueen was likely exposed to asbestos while serving as a marine before his Hollywood career. He might have also ingested asbestos fibers while wearing flame-retardant suits when driving fast cars and riding motorcycles – his passion.
Merlin Olsen. The pro football player was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009. The likely cause of Olsen’s exposure to asbestos remains unknown. After the diagnosis, treatment was unsuccessful, and Olsen died in 2010.
Warren Zevon. The famous musician was the author of many popular songs, including “Werewolves of London” and “Excitable Boy.” After Zevon was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, he refused any treatment. Instead, he devoted all of his energy to the completion of his last album, “The Wind.” Capturing Zevon’s resolve and spirit, it was released only two weeks before the singer’s death.
Paul Gleason. The popular Hollywood and television actor died of mesothelioma at the age of 67. His more notable films include “The Breakfast Club” and “Trading Places.” Gleason never knew the source of the asbestos exposure that put him in danger of developing asbestosis and pleural mesothelioma.
Terry McCann. The Olympic gold champion in wrestling in 1960, McCann went on to have a highly successful career as a philanthropist and leader of various service organizations. He was the executive director of Toastmasters International for 26 years and served as the chief financial officer for Lions International. After being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2005, McCann became an avid advocate for mesothelioma victims and helped defeat a congressional bill that would have curbed lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers. McCann had additional mesothelioma advocacy projects planned, but the pain and nausea caused by his pleural effusion prevented him from achieving many of his goals.