(Some stories will break your heart. This is one of them. Some stories will renew your spirit and faith in the goodwill of community. This is also one of those. Some stories can inspire progress in the causes we choose to champion. Would that this could be one of these. For Janelle, our champion. Rest in peace.)
Rushville’s Wonder Woman, Janelle Bedel, who has been very active in supporting other “Mesothelioma Warriors” internationally, was awarded the Alan Reinstein Award Tuesday by Reinstein’s widow, Linda Reinstein, just a day before Janelle’s untimely death on Wednesday. Linda serves as president/co-founder, following in the footsteps of her husband and the organization’s first president Alan Reinstein, of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
Linda flew in from California and spent Tuesday with Janelle and meeting people from the community who have embraced Janelle in her journey fighting against the disease that would eventually take her life, mesothelioma.
The Alan Reinstein Award recognizes Janelle’s commitment to education, advocacy and support to countless patients and families around the world. It is one of the highest honors ADAO presents.
The award was presented privately at Janelle’s home because of her failing health by Linda Reinstein on Tuesday, June 18, with Janelle’s husband, Andrew, and son, Carson, by her side. Tears still came to Linda’s eyes hours later, when speaking of Janelle, as she met with community members at the Corner Restaurant in Rushville.
Reinstein said, “If every town around the world was as supportive of asbestos-disease patients as Rushville has been, people with mesothelioma wouldn’t face the huge challenges that they face today and they wouldn’t be so alone. I applaud the Rushville Republican, Mayor Mike Pavey and the citizens of Rushville for your support of Janelle.”
According to the organization, despite the well-documented dangers, you may be shocked to learn that asbestos has yet to be banned in the United States. Doctors, scientists and the U.S. Surgeon General agree that asbestos is a carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure. ADAO is fighting to implement a global ban on asbestos. Furthermore, the U.S. still imports this proven dangerous substance, with no end in sight.
Linda wrote on the organization’s website prior to her visit to Rushville Tuesday, “The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is one of many fans of Wonder Woman Janelle Bedel, a Meso Warrior in Rushville, Indiana who is doing so much to raise awareness about asbestos and support others fighting the disease alongside her. But it’s more than Janelle that we celebrate; it’s an entire community that has rallied to support her – the town of Rushville, population 6,303. So, on June 18, I will travel to Rushville, not only to visit Janelle, but to meet the wonderful people who have done so much to help her and other mesothelioma patients around the world.”
Tuesday, she honored that pledge to visit and brought the award to Janelle.
She went onto write, “My goal is to interview and videotape as many citizens of Rushville as I can before I have to leave for the airport at 1 p.m. on June 19. I would love to meet Mayor Mike Pavey who officially designated June 6 as Janelle Bedel Wonder Woman Day, and the people from Hardee’s restaurants who donated a portion of food sales on June 6 to Janelle’s charity of choice (ADAO), and the staff of the Rushville Pharmacy and the Corner Restaurant who will make donations from sales on their Wonder Woman Day on June 19. The local newspaper Rushville Republican has also been involved, running a series of excellent articles about Janelle.”
During her visit Tuesday from Los Angeles, Calif., Reinstein met with Mayor Mike Pavey and shared Janelle’s recognition with the Rushville City Council that evening. Reinstein thanked the council saying, “By declaring Thursday, June 6, Wonder Woman Day, and all of your other actions, you have impacted not only your community, our nation, but the world, in her honor.”
Reinstein spoke about the disease saying, “Thirty Americans die every day just like Janelle, from a preventable asbestos caused cancer. It’s unacceptable. It’s morally reprehensible and just plain wrong. And you folks get it. And I am impressed and honored to be here tonight.”
Congressman Luke Messer sent a representative to meet Reinstein in Rushville. Speaking Tuesday on the House floor in Washington D.C. before the 113th U.S. Congress, Rep. Messer said, “I rise today to honor and recognize the powerful voice of Janelle Bedel of Rushville,” speaking about her illness and the community’s support of our “Wonder Woman.”
“I ask the 6th Congressional District and the entire State of Indiana to join me in keeping Janelle and her family in our thoughts and prayers and in celebration of her continued efforts to raise awareness among our communities about the impact of this disease,” Rep. Messer added.
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly also sent a letter recognizing Janelle’s battle against mesothelioma that Reinstein said brought tears to her eyes.
Janelle’s journey and fight against diseases caused by asbestos have struck a nerve in Rushville that is traveling outward through elected officials, family, friends and through the information super highway like few others before her. How far and how much change that spark Janelle has inspired will impact the battle is up to those she will leave behind to carry her message.
Janelle underwent extensive surgery to remove her affected lung and turned to physical therapy and radiation therapy. She spent much of her time advocating for mesothelioma awareness. Janelle is also credited for her key role in gaining congressional support for a resolution that would designate Sept. 26 as national Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
Janelle, dubbed Wonder Woman by family and friends, inspired T-shirts of the famous cartoon heroine to be made available, with those profits also earmarked for advocacy.
Janelle was diagnosed with stage 2 Mesothelioma in 2007 and her long battle has been chronicled in the pages of the Rushville Republican and in the hearts of the community of Rushville. How Janelle contracted this form of cancer is a mystery. It is commonly due to being exposed to materials containing asbestos. Stories about Janelle’s journey can be found on our website at rushvillerepublican.com.
After enduring all of the trials and tribulations throughout diagnosis and treatment, Janelle enjoyed something of a respite from the cancer she fought so hard to beat.
Her brother, Bennie, explained just days before her death that the cancer “never really left. She had been doing things to extend her life through surgeries, chemo, radiation. She has decided on hospice because the meso has gotten to her diaphragm and now she can’t do any more to extend her life. Now she is just wanting her work to live on.”
In honor of Janelle’s bravery in the face of adversity, the Wonder Woman symbol can be found all over Facebook and other social media sites and Janelle’s story has been picked up by television stations out of Indianapolis and by advocacy organizations around the world.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman focused on raising public awareness and working to ban asbestos in the time she had left.
An object lesson on the dangers of asbestos was also making headlines in Indiana Tuesday during Reinstein’s visit. The investigation into what may have caused a massive fire at a warehouse in Indianapolis slowed dramatically after asbestos was detected in the debris and crews needed to wear protective gear and limit exposure time. The fire had been burning with hot spots flaring and emergency personnel on scene for days already, when the discovery of asbestos was announced.
During National Awareness Week in April 2013, Reinstein offered her words of experience and knowledge to help spread the knowledge that many in Rushville are becoming acutely aware of because of Janelle’s battle.
The Center for Public Integrity reported in April, “More than 50 countries have banned asbestos, a toxic mineral used in building materials, insulation, automobile brakes and other products. The United States isn’t one of them. Last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 1,060 metric tons ... came into the country, all of it from Brazil.”
Reinstein responded in April, saying she’s “appalled and disgusted that the United States still allows the importation of asbestos to meet so-called manufacturing needs. “We’ve known for decades that safer substitutes exist,” said Reinstein. “We’re facing a public health crisis where more than 30 Americans die every day from preventable, asbestos-caused diseases.”
During this journey, Janelle posted videos about her illness. We share them with you on our website with this story and invite you to join in remembering this courageous woman and help her work live on in each person who has been touched in some way by her story.
There are two organizations that Janelle has championed. They are Linda Reinstein’s organization, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
For more information visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation at curemeso.org.
Wonder Woman once said, in a television episode that seems made for reality, “Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.”
How far can you help take our Wonder Woman Janelle’s dream?
Our deepest condolences to the family of Janelle Bedel as we join in championing the legacy she left behind to a community that truly, truly cares.
Contact: Melissa Conrad @ 765.932.2222 x107