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Jay & Anna Grace's Story: Truly the Best of Friends

Jay was a man full of life and humor, with a loving wife, Anna Grace, three children and beloved grandchildren.   When asked in his deposition what it was like for the family when they first heard he had mesothelioma, he says:  “We were all so shocked.  Surprised.  What really got us is I’ve never smoked a day in my life.  You know, we didn’t really understand mesothelioma anyway.  So the whole family gathered, and they were shook up too.”  The prognosis, as is usual with malignant pleural mesothelioma, was not good – one to six months, maybe eight.

Once Jay received the diagnosis, he began researching his illness on the internet. He quickly realized that he needed to find doctors that specialized in his type of cancer as well as find a mesothelioma attorney who could represent him and his family. At first, Jay was very skeptical about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, as he had been involved in litigation before and had not had a pleasant experience. But Anna Grace says, “From the moment we called your office, the staff was all so wonderful. If we had a question, I would call and every single time I was able to speak to someone directly, or if they didn’t know the answer, someone would always call back right away.”

She goes on to say how that although they had to travel to Spokane, Washington for Jay's deposition when he was already quite ill and feeling side effects from chemotherapy, our firm made it very easy for them. Anna Grace shares: "Steve Patti [one of the attorneys from our firm who was representing them] took care of all the details. He was so considerate and intuitive. If we needed anything, he took care of it. And he always kept asking if there was anything he could do, if there was anything we needed. He was so compassionate and truly cared for my and my husband’s comfort and health.”

Jay was an adventurous, active, smart and hardworking man. He had a great sense of humor, high dedication to his work, and great love of his wife and family. Born in Butte, Montana in 1938, Jay met his wife in 5th grade. They remained close and almost inseparable, except on occasion when Jay was in training or on a hunting trip. For the entire time of their marriage –close to 55 years – they enjoyed life together immensely. They truly were the best of friends.

Jay began a career in law enforcement early on, and then retired in 1986 as the chief of police in the City of Kent, Washington. When not working, Jay enjoyed a whole host of hobbies, including hunting, fishing, boating, fixing up cars, remodeling the homes they lived in, RV travel and shipboard cruising. Jay and Anna Grace did a Central America cruise with the whole family for their 50th wedding anniversary, as well as cruised to Polynesia, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal, British Columbia, and more. 

After retirement, Jay and Anna Grace spent about half the year traveling in their motor home. Jay loved to build fishing poles and also carved wood, and especially enjoyed carving birds of prey. Jay also was involved in volunteer work for the US Forest Service, and perhaps most unusual and interesting, he and Anna Grace also raised llamas to use in the back country. Jay and Anna Grace were always active and finding interesting things to do together and with the family.

Not one to be slothful or complain, after Anna Grace suffered from chronic pain and severe back problems (and several unsuccessful back surgeries,) Jay took over a lot of the daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, vacuuming, and paying the bills.  In addition to his usual yard work, snow removal, house repairs, etc, Jay also took over anything that involved physical exertion. Jay joked several times talking with us, chuckling and saying that no matter how much he did or what it looked like, Anna Grace was always the foreman, the director of details - she made the technical decisions, he would say.

Jay’s first sign of mesothelioma was a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. His doctor at first thought it was a reaction to his blood pressure medicine.  
Symptoms of mesothelioma often mimic much less serious illnesses and therefore can be tricky to diagnose, especially with no known prior exposure to asbestos, as in Jay’s case.   The cough continued, so when he went back for his next appointment, his doctor took an EKG and chest x-rays.  That’s when they discovered that about two-thirds of his right lung was filled with fluid.  He immediately went to the hospital to have the fluid drained, and after a biopsy, was given the diagnosis.

Even though Jay answered questions in his deposition about this time of being diagnosed and then going through rounds of chemotherapy with humor, it was very obvious that he suffered a lot.  The side effects from four rounds of chemotherapy with Cisplatin and Alimta (standard frontline chemotherapy drugs,) were severe and rendered him unable to do much of anything.  As he said, “Chemo is no recreational drug.”  With no success, they went to a mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Carr of the Fred Hutchinson University of Washington Cancer Care Center Alliance in Seattle.  They tried other novel forms of treatment, such as Sotent, an enzyme therapy believed to attach the cancer growth, but with little to no success.

Unfortunately, the mesothelioma ended up taking Jay’s life not long after the deposition, so we filed a wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit on behalf of Anna Grace and her children.   Although no amount of money can make up for losing a loved one, especially a husband who is your very best friend, Anna Grace says that at least she is well taken care of and can help her family when needed.  She tells the story of how Jay used to take his grandson hunting in Canada, and how sad he was that the cancer made it impossible for him to do that.  She feels some peace in knowing that she was able to afford to make those trips happen for their son and grandson after Jay had passed, knowing how important that was to him.

When asked if she had any advice for others who have been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, Anna Grace says:  “Every time I talk to a police officer or firefighter, I tell them about mesothelioma-it’s so rare-you just don’t know about it until it’s too late.  I tell them to get themselves checked by a doctor, and that if they ever get sick from asbestos; I have the name of a good attorney (Steve Patti.)  I wish that I had access to those people who get diagnosed or to the family members who have lost someone to this horrible disease.  I would tell them all about your firm.  You all have been so wonderful and helped me so much."

Hearing her words, we are grateful -and more determined than ever to help those who have been wrongfully injured, whose lives are lost when protection could have easily been provided.  We stay in contact with Anna Grace, as settlements continue to come in for her.  We are happy she is doing well, feels financially secure, and knows how much we care.