Illinois Masonic

This was my third social, at my third hospital, and I had the same great experience. This time I went to Illinois Masonic. This hospital is near and dear to me because it is where I was taken about a year and a half ago when I was hit by a car – but that is the subject of another blog altogether. The setup at Illinois Masonic was a little different: we had a table directly in the waiting area near the check-in desk. Jackie, the volunteer coordinator for Imerman Angels, mentioned this hospital location was not usually as busy as some of the others, so she informed us that we shouldn’t expect too much traffic. One interesting concept I noticed was that patients received lighted buzzers upon check in, like the type of devices that you receive at restaurants while you wait for a table.

I walked around the waiting area offering water, Lemonheads candy, and brochures to people waiting for their appointment. As a side note, the reason we pass out Lemonheads candy is because it alleviates the metallic taste patients may have after undergoing chemo and radiation treatments. In addition to this tip, the Lemonheads candy we pass out has all the Imerman Angels information printed on the back of each box.

One person who stood out to me was a gentleman who was going in for his last check-up after his final round of chemo. He had never heard of Imerman Angels and he thought it was such a great idea to provide patients with a one-on-one support system based on shared experiences. He was elated to sign up in order to offer support to another who might be experiencing the same feelings of uncertainty and fear that come with a cancer diagnoses.

Cancer is such an emotional affliction; I found people display a huge array of emotions regarding the same disease. After being introduced to this process, both in my professional experience with Mesothelioma victims and in my volunteer experience with those battling all types of cancer, I have seen people be very warm, selfless, social, and willing to discuss their process. But I have also seen people be very cold, distant, and unwilling to engage. In both instances, I was there to provide information, support, guidance, empathy, and sometimes just a listening ear. In all of my experiences, I found that when people are faced with their own mortality, one never knows what to expect. I have found it to be extremely important to be sensitive when speaking to people who are affected by cancer– both in my volunteer work and in my professional work. You don’t know the journey each individual goes through every day; a little compassion could be more appreciated than you might anticipate.

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Written by Mirela Stefanescu

Kellogg Cancer Center in Evanston

My name is Mirela Stefanescu. This was my fifth social to attend and I now I feel like an old pro. The Kellogg Cancer Center in Evanston was a beautiful location with lots of greenery in the waiting room. We set up in a room off to the left. The unique part of this location is that it provided us with two screens on which we played clips representative of Imerman Angels as well as interviews with both the founder Johnny and with other mentor angels. 

As usual, we set up the room with flyers, water bottles, and signup sheets before we went around the waiting room explaining the benefits of Imerman. One gentleman who signed up was an eighteen-year non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor who talked about his journey with cancer when he was just sixteen years old. His treatment had been in Evanston and he explained how different the facility was now. He also talked about how he hadn’t wanted to know any details about his cancer but, looking back on it now, he felt he had blocked out a good portion of that part of his life. Now he wanted to sign up so he would be able to provide support to another young man who might be going through the same thing he had experienced. He talked about what a difficult time it had been in his life. When his friends were getting their driver’s licenses, he was projectile-vomiting after chemotherapy –  something the doctors had told him should not have happened as a side-effect to his treatment. He said if one person battling cancer could benefit from one of his previous experiences, he would feel the experience he went through would not have been for nothing.

As we were finishing and beginning to pack up, one woman came up to me to thank me for coming back every month. She explained that she has been coming to the Kellogg Cancer Center for treatment for the past six months. Although she had listened to other people ask questions, she never thought this kind of support system would be for her. Last month she sat in the room and listened to the stories that played on the video from Imerman, and she finally signed up. She said her mentor angel has been amazing, and she wished she had signed up earlier.

I found this story to mirror my professional experience with Vogelzang Law: Some of our clients were scared at first to contact an attorney because they felt intimidated by the process, or they believed that they developed lung cancer or Mesothelioma because they smoked for most of their adult lives. But once they finally meet my boss, Nick, and once they see that we are here to fight for victims of asbestos-related diseases and their families, these same clients come back and say they wish they would’ve contacted us sooner.

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Written by Mirela Stefanescu

Working With the Imerman Angels

mirela Stefanescu

My name is Mirela Stefanescu and I live in Lakeview, and I do PR for Vogelzang Law, an amazing law firm in the city at which I am also the office manager and which specializes in serving victims of Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancer. I also just started volunteering for a wonderful organization called Imerman Angels which is a one-on- one non-profit cancer support community. While I have not been touched physically by cancer, I have been so personally. My mom is a 13-year survivor of 4th stage uterine cancer and the daughter of one of my best friends is currently battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a rare bone cancer.

There are many cancer support groups out there, but what truly spoke to me about Imerman Angels is the one-on- one support community it offers; it is so personal. At Imerman Angels, they pair cancer survivors with current patients, and they pair the caregivers of cancer survivors with the caregivers of current patients. This provides the people who are possibly newly diagnosed and the people who care for them a very individualized resource which allows them to talk to others who know exactly what they are going through.

This is the reason I chose Imerman Angels. My mom did not tell anyone that she was diagnosed with cancer, and she did not tell anyone how severe it truly was, or however it could have been. It was a very internal process for her; my father, my siblings, and I had no idea what she was going through until years later. To this day, she has never really discussed it in great detail with any of us. I don’t know if she would’ve necessarily used a program like Imerman Angels, but if such a program were there, or if she had been approached by a volunteer at the hospital she had gone to who explained what Imerman Angels does, maybe it wouldn’t have been such a lonely process for her.

I had gone through the volunteer training process at Imerman Angels with Megan Alexander, a Cancer Support Specialist. She explained how Imerman Angels was founded and she spoke of the mission that everyone there is so passionate about. I had met with Ben Bornstein, the CEO of Imerman Angels, a few weeks prior, and he had the mirrored the same passion and enthusiasm for the organization. I was ready to receive my first email of volunteer possibilities.

The first social for which I had volunteered was at Stroger Hospital. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have never been a big fan of hospitals -- who is? -- so I was not surprised when I had to wander around until I was finally able to find the location of the social. I was early. They had scheduled us to be in a small room next to the oncology department. Our captain, Lily, was the next to show up, and we started to set up the bottles of water, brochures, and donated gifts in the room. She went over the protocol on how to explain what Imerman Angels offers and then we waited for our first “guests.”

The nurses went to the waiting room and brought patients in so they could find out more about what Imerman provides while they were waiting for their appointments. We had several people come in, one explained the very reason Imerman is such a blessing. She has two grown children who don’t understand what she is going through. She had breast cancer and she is now in remission. She felt as if she didn’t have anyone to talk to during her treatment and she feels the same now that she is in remission. She had signed up to become a “mentor angel” to be there for someone else who may be going through the same struggle. As I spoke to more and more people, I found that everyone’s journey may be different but one thing remains the same: everyone is looking for a human connection. Cancer is indiscriminate, and we are all part of this society called the human race.

In my opinion, there are many similarities between Imerman Angels and Vogelzang Law. That is what makes me so passionate about my job and my volunteer work. The firm takes a very personalized approach with our clients, as I do with my Public Relations work. The best part of my job is going to union halls and explaining how the head attorney handles each client’s case and how the whole office is hands-on. I am proud to say I work for one of the good guys.

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Written by Mirela Stefanescu

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang Won't Stop Fighting Cancer

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang poses for a portrait at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada on Thursday, Jan. 05, 2017, in Las Vegas (Christina K. Lee/Las Vegas Review-Journal) 

A recent article by the Las Vegas Review-Journal detailed the close relationship Dr. Vogelzang shares with his patients at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in Las Vegas.

“Someone told me Dr. Vogelzang is retiring. He can’t. Someone in our family will die if he does. Is it true? Is he retiring?” a woman had asked the article’s author.

When asked if the rumor was true, the 67-year-old Dr. Vogelzang laughed and said he hoped to be seeing patients for another 50 years.

You have to keep moving forward as long as you can,” Dr. Vogelzang said.

When the author told the woman what Dr. Vogelzang had said, she began to cry. “Thank God” she said weeping before hanging up.

Dr. Vogelzang is a world-renowned oncologist who has dedicated his professional life to cancer patients and to cancer research. He has treated mesothelioma patients for 40 years and is the former director of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Institute and the Nevada Cancer Institute.

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang and patient Lysa Buonanno are happy that a drug used by Vogelzang on her Stage 4 cancer has made her cancer free. Courtesy of CCC of Nevada.

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang and patient Lysa Buonanno are happy that a drug used by Vogelzang on her Stage 4 cancer has made her cancer free. Courtesy of CCC of Nevada.

Last month, Lysa Buonanno described Dr. Vogelzang’s 10 p.m. phone call to say her rare Stage 4 lung cancer could be treated with a new drug.

“That’s the kind of doctor he is. He really cares,” she said. “He gives out his cellphone and personal email and told me to get in touch with him whenever I felt I needed to. What other doctor does that?”

Lisa Corrado, whose father is being treated for kidney cancer with a new immunotherapy, echoed Buonanno’s sentiment.

“We’re just so lucky to have someone here who combines the best in research and treatment,” Corrado said. “He’s very patient, never gotten irritated with us,” she added. “He’s just a special guy.”

Corrado was also stunned by Dr. Vogelzang’s willingness to share his personal contact information to his patients and their families.

For Dr. Vogelzang, it’s all a part of the job of caring for his patients.


Harasim, P. (2017, January 7). Beloved Doctor Nicholas Vogelzang Won’t Stop Fighting Cancer. Retrieved from

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Written by Wyatt Berkover

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists asbestos as one of the 10 high-risk chemicals

On December 1, 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed asbestos as one of the 10 high-risk chemicals evaluated and regulated under the Lautenberg Act.  What this means is that the EPA must release a scoping document within six months which includes the hazards, exposures, conditions of use and vulnerable populations the agency plans to consider for the risk evaluation.  Next the EPA will have to complete a risk evaluation to determine whether the chemicals present an unreasonable risk to humans and the environment.  Finally, if asbestos is found to pose an unreasonable risk, the EPA must take regulatory action, which translates to a complete asbestos ban within two years from that time.  The EPA has previously determined that asbestos is a potential carcinogen at all levels of exposure and that there is no known safe level of exposure.

There was an attempted ban of asbestos by the EPA in 1989 but it was overturned when the chemical industry sued because of the ban's negative effect on business.  The chemical industry, represented  by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) continues to fight for the right to use asbestos and insists that the mineral can be used safely.  The chloralkali industry, which makes chlorine and sodium hydroxide, is responsible for about 90% of the asbestos use in the United States.  The ACC fights for this industry in keeping the use of asbestos legal.  

The top job killer in the country of Canada is asbestos exposure.

The top job killer in the country of Canada is asbestos exposure.  This comes from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada.  Asbestos was the cause of death for 367 people in 2015.  Since 1996, there have been 5,614 recorded work-related deaths from asbestos in Canada.  This does not include people who were diagnosed with mesothelioma that didn't work in industry such as wives of asbestos workers or people who worked with it in the summer in their youth.  

An open letter written to the Prime Minister on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2016, was signed by 68 groups, including the Canadian Teachers' Federation, many large unions, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, as well as over 50 individuals such as scientists, doctors, professors as well as many family members that have lost loved ones to asbestos disease.  

Despite all of the evidence that continues to mount, Canada, similar to the United States, has refused to ban asbestos.  50 countries around the world have banned asbestos.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially stated that all types of asbestos cause cancer.  This affects all different trade unions such as insulators, pipefitters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, engineers, boilermakers and many members of the military.

Hopefully governments will start to listen to the injured and stop industry from using this toxic substance.

Mesothelioma Settlement for Wife of Union Electrician

Attorney Nicholas Vogelzang settled yet another mesothelioma case for an undisclosed high dollar amount on November 8, 2016 at the Daley Center in Cook County.  His client was the wife of a union electrician out of IBEW Local 134 in Chicago.  She had laundered his clothing throughout his working career.  Most notably she shook out his clothes and washed them during the time period of the 1960's and 1970's while he was working with numerous asbestos-containing products.  The defendants that were part of the settlement manufactured products such as pumps, valves, asbestos-insulated wire and joint compound.  The plaintiff's husband had worked all over Chicago including the McCormick Place, the John Hancock, Allstate Insurance and numerous other commercial locations throughout Cook County.  

The plaintiff continues to undergo chemotherapy for her mesothelioma.  She was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer in the summer of 2015 and new immediately that the cause was from the dust on her husband's clothes.  The tragic reason for her familiarity was that her sister passed from the same disease several years earlier.  Her sister had also been exposed to asbestos dust from her husband's clothing.

This trial proceeded like many before in that the defendants took the plaintiff's deposition, asking what her husband's occupation had been and how frequently she performed laundry for her husband. Attorney Nicholas Vogelzang was also able to locate a co-worker of the plaintiff's husband, since the husband had passed away from heart trouble many years earlier.  The co-worker had retired to a small lake in Arkansas but remembered his Chicago electrician days well with the plaintiff's husband.  He testified in a deposition regarding all the different asbestos-containing products that they had worked with together and how the dust was on their clothes at the end of the day.  In addition, the plaintiff's son gave a deposition regarding his work with his father doing residential side work on Saturdays using asbestos-containing caulk and joint compound.  After these Saturday morning work sessions the plaintiff would again launder the asbestos-laden clothing of her son and husband, further exposing her to the deadly dust.

The plaintiff was very happy with her representation and grateful that she could use the money to go toward her medical bills and help out her family.  If you or a loved one receives a diagnosis of mesothelioma, getting proper representation and getting it quickly is crucial to the case.  Vogelzang Law has been helping families with mesothelioma for over 15 years.  They have worked with clients from all different union trades including pipe-fitters, electricians, sheet metal workers, boilermakers, carpenters, laborers, mechanics, engineers, janitors, insulators and many more.  In addition, they have represented clients who haven't worked in the trades but were exposed to asbestos in unique ways for very short time periods.  Sitting down with an attorney can help flush out all possible asbestos exposures.  An attorney at Vogelzang Law can help as early as today, the phone number is 877-293-6376(MESO).

IVC Filters May Not Improve Mortality

What does the evidence show from articles in JAMA?  In an 8 year follow up study published in 2005, 400 patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) considered at high risk for a pulmonary embolism were treated and studied.  All patients were anticoagulated with heparin and half of the patients received a permanent IVC filter.

ivc filters

After two years, no significant benefit of an IVC filter was shown in terms of mortality or symptomatic pulmonary embolism.  In fact, an increase in recurrent DVT was noted in patients that received a filter.  Thus the conclusion of the study was that "because of the observed excess rate of recurrent DVT and the absence of any effect on mortality among patients receiving filters, their systemic use cannot be recommended."

These patients continued to be monitored for eight years.  Once again, the IVC filter had no survival benefit.

In a more recent study published in 2015, out of 399 patients, 193 of them received a retrievable (temporary filter) in addition to anticoagulation drugs and the other half received anticoagulation drugs alone.  153 patients had the filter removed after three months.  What were the results?  There were trends toward recurrent Pulmonary Embolism and increased mortality among patients receiving the IVC filters.

What's the upshot of these two studies?  If you can receive anticoagulation therapy, there is no hard evidence that IVC filters improve mortality and instead, filter placement may actually increase the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis and filter-related complications such as migration of the filter within the body or fracture of the filter.  Thus, current evidence and guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians suggest that there is no reason for a patient to receive an IVC filter if they are eligible for anticoagulation drugs.

Therefore, if you have an IVC filter in you, and you are on anti-coagulation therapy, talk to your doctor about these studies to determine if removal of the filter is possible.  Regardless, you may be entitled to compensation if you have or had an IVC filter placed in your body.  Contact Vogelzang Law at 312-466-1669 to determine your legal rights.

Fines at U.S. Steel Plant Highlight Outsized Asbestos Threat in Allegheny County, Pa.

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators have levied fines totaling $170,000 against the U.S. Steel Corporation for exposing workers to asbestos at the company’s Coke Works facility in Clairton, Pa., according the following statement the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Monday:

During the first week of February 2016, at the company’s coke production facility in Pittsburgh, five workers removed and replaced packing material containing asbestos at the direction of the company. In March 2016, OSHA found two other employees had burned and removed a rotted section of expansion pipe at the company’s direction. The pipe later tested positive for asbestos.

Aside from the much more populous states of California and Florida, Pennsylvania has seen more of its people get sick and die from asbestos-triggered diseases than the remaining 47 states, with more than 14,200 deaths between 1999 and 2013, as reported by EWG Action Fund.

Allegheny County tops the state’s counties with the most deaths at 1,616 over the same period. While the annual mortality rate from asbestos diseases nationwide is 4.9 deaths for every 100,000, it’s 7.5 for Pennsylvania and is nearly double the national average in Allegheny County at 8.5.

“While many Americans, including residents of Pennsylvania, may think asbestos is no longer a threat to people, this situation at the Coke Works plant clearly shows the risks are still very much real,” said EWG Action Fund’s Vice President for Strategic Campaigns Alex Formuzis.

Asbestos diseases account for up to 15,000 deaths each year in the U.S., and more than 900 annually in Pennsylvania, Formuzis added.

While the use of asbestos has declined sharply since its health risks became clear in the late 1970s, asbestos remains legal and is still used by certain industries. Allegheny County was a major manufacturing hub during the 20th century where asbestos was used in products manufactured in the region, which likely accounts for the elevated mortality numbers.

U.S. Steel employees’ exposure to asbestos earlier this year shows that workers continue to face threats in 2016, decades after the science was settled on asbestos’ serious health risks for people.

President Obama recently signed legislation to update the woefully inadequate 1976 version of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The new version could give the Environmental Protection Agency authority to finally ban asbestos, which it has been unable to do thus far.

But in Pennsylvania, the state legislature is considering legislation that would make it much harder for current and future victims of asbestos-caused diseases to obtain compensation for their injuries.

The Fairness in Claims and Transparency Act, also known as H.B.1428, introduced in June 2015 by Rep. Warren Kampf, R-Dist. 157, would force plaintiffs and their attorneys to maneuver through a series of laborious and unnecessary legal hurdles, and grant the industry enormous power.

Specifically, H.B. 1428 would:

  • Force plaintiffs to disclose confidential settlement negotiations;

  • Allow asbestos defendant companies the authority to delay litigation, which would see many victims succumb to their illnesses before their day in court; and

  • Severely revise time-honored tort law to let asbestos corporations responsible for poisoning the plaintiffs off the hook.

Article Source:


Illinois courts have general jurisdiction over Ford Motor Company, according to Judge Stobbs of the Third Judicial Circuit. Irene Jeffs, the surviving spouse of Dale Jeffs, filed suit in Madison County against Ford and numerous co-defendants whose conduct may have exposed Dale to asbestos and contributed to his mesothelioma. The Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges Dale was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working as an insulator between 1968 and 1995. Dale worked at the Ford plant in Michigan as an insulation contractor for a period of time. Plaintiff further alleges that Dale’s exposure to harmful asbestos-containing products at the Ford plant contributed to his mesothelioma. 

Ford moved to dismiss for lack of in personam jurisdiction. A foreign corporation can be sued in a forum state for either specific or general jurisdiction. Under specific jurisdiction, a foreign corporation may only be sued for a wrongful act committed within the forum state. Under general jurisdiction, a foreign corporation may be sued in the forum state for any act committed anywhere in the world. Ford argued Illinois courts cannot confer specific personal jurisdiction over them in this action, as Dale’s alleged exposure took place in Michigan. Citing Daimler AG v. Bauman (134 S. Ct. 746 [2014]), Ford further argued that there is no basis for Illinois courts to exercise general jurisdiction over them, as Ford is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters in Michigan. The Court did not find Ford’s arguments persuasive and denied its motion to dismiss.

The Court first cited to the Daimler decision’s reiteration that a court may assert general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation to hear any and all claims against it when the foreign corporation’s contacts with the forum state are so continuous and systematic to render them essentially at home in the forum state. Citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz (105 S.Ct. 2174 [1985]), the Court further explained that once minimum contacts with a forum state have been established, the contacts must be considered in light of other factors to determine whether asserting  in personam jurisdiction would comport with the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

Continuous and Systematic Contacts

The Court began their analysis by cataloging Ford’s business activities in Illinois: Ford is certified to conduct business in Illinois; it owns real property in Illinois; it has authorized Dealers to advertise, solicit sales, and to service and sell vehicles to Illinois residents; it employs people in Illinois; it maintains a registered agent to accept service of process in Illinois.  Furthermore, Ford has conducted regular business in Illinois since 1922. Ford has also litigated numerous cases in Illinois without asserting an objection to personal jurisdiction, including asbestos personal injury claims.  The Court was also persuaded by Ford’s own words: Ford recently filed a brief inFolta v. Ferro Engineering (2015 IL 118070 [Ill. 2015]) where the corporation admitted “Ford conducts substantial business in Illinois.” From these facts, the Court held Ford has availed itself of the protections of the Illinois Court system and the benefits of Illinois law. The Court further held that Ford’s contacts with Illinois are substantial and go well beyond the “minimum contacts” required by federal due process standards.

Fair Play and Substantial Justice

After determining that Ford’s contacts with the State of Illinois have been so continuous and systematic to render them essentially at home in the forum state, the Court then weighed Ford’s contacts against other factors to determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Ford would comport with the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. The first factor the Court weighed was whether Ford has unequivocally consented to jurisdiction in Illinois. The Court held that Ford has unequivocally consented to jurisdiction in Illinois, again noting Ford has conducted business in Illinois since 1922 with a registered agent to accept process and that Ford has litigated numerous cases in Illinois without objecting to personal jurisdiction. The Court noted Ford has 156 Ford Dealers in Illinois, it 102,000 vehicles in Illinois the previous year, and it employs 5,500 people in Illinois, and that Ford has invested over half a billion dollars in their business operations in Illinois in the past 5 years. Having considered the factors, the Court held the exercise of jurisdiction over Ford would not be inconsistent with the notions of fair play and substantial justice.