Granddaughter of Meso Victim to be Keynote Speaker

The young granddaughter of a Pennsylvania mesothelioma victim has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the gala dinner for the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which will be held tonight in Washington, D.C.

According to an article in the Allentown Morning Call, twelve-year-old Lexi Miletto was just 9 years old when she wrote letters to a number of medical foundations, congressmen, and celebrities, telling them about her Grandpa Joe, with whom she was particularly close. Joe died of mesothelioma three years ago.

Her letters have not yet prompted a response from Oprah Winfrey or President Bush, but they did attract the attention of June Breit of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif. That’s why Breit invited Lexi to speak to a ballroom full of doctors, researchers, and advocates involved in the fight to ban asbestos and offer more and better treatments for victims of asbestos-related diseases such as the one that killed Lexi’s Grandpa Joe.

”We wanted to show the full spectrum of the disease’s effect on families,” said Chris Hahn, the foundation’s executive director. ”How inspiring it is that this young gal going into eighth grade has this concern for a much bigger national problem.”

Though Lexi was shocked by the offer, it didn’t take her long to decide to give the speech. “I was very excited about it,” she said. ”It means a lot to me because I want to raise awareness for others so they won’t have to suffer like my grandfather did.”

Joe Miletto worked at a number of hard-labor jobs that may have exposed him to asbestos, including demolition. His widow believes he may have also encountered the toxic mineral during his stint in the U.S. Navy.

Lexi hopes to become a doctor and join in the fight against mesothelioma. ”We are the future generation,” she said, quoting her speech. ”We’re going to have to take up the task of finding a cure.”

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