Lou Williams, one of Australia’s best known “meso-warriors,” tragically succumbed to mesothelioma in April this year after a nearly 15-year fight against the disease.
Williams was first exposed to asbestos at age seven when her father built an extra room onto their house using asbestos sheeting. He used leftover pieces to make a cubbyhouse for Williams and her sister.
After years of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatments, having reached the point of being on oxygen and morphine for 24 hours a day, Williams was treated with eight courses of Keytruda that changed her life for the better. With her condition improved, Williams was able to serve for two years as social media campaigner for the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, telling her story around the company.
In her latest campaign, Williams had gathered 5,000 signatures calling for Keytruda to be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for mesothelioma. In Australia, Keytruda is currently listed for melanoma only; mesothelioma patients must pay $150,000 a year to gain treatment with the drug. If Keytruda were put on the PBS for mesothelioma patients, it would only cost them $37 for a prescription.
Linda Reinstein, cofounder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness organization, said of Williams, “In the fight for fairness for asbestos victims and their families, no one could surpass Lou. If you are aware of her own personal battle, then you, like me, would be truly amazed of her commitment to others, forgetting her own pain and plight, and true warrior.”