Shipyards, Cancer & the VA

I spent several years stationed and living at my command at Bemerton naval shipyard. It was during the period when the where cutting up and decomming large numbers of SSN/SSBN's during the big draw down of the 90's

I was recently diagnosed with stage 4 RCC, had my right kidney removed but it has spread to my lungs.

I read that a major contributer to RCC can be due to heavy metals including lead and such.

I don't know but suspect that my time if there may have contributed to my condition, if not diectly, possibly aggravating a predisposition to RCC.


Would I be able to seek VA assistance, even if its not service related. They told me the meds I need are several thousand each month and my insurance won't cover it.


I need help fast, I currently can't work as I am still recovering especially since I am a mechanic.


I need I ideas of how to approach this.




Former Navy MM2







  • njkate07
    njkate07 Member Posts: 19 Member
    edited August 2016 #2
    Cancer and VA

    My husband has stage 4 renal cancer with mets to liver, lungs and clacification in lungs from asbestos, as well as mets to brain.

    He was in boiler rooms all 4 years on ship surrounded by asbestos. Have filed a compensation claim and still waiting.

    As far as VA, that is where we go now, I'm very happy with the one we use in St Petersburg Fl. Before I went to VA the co pay on his chemo was $600 a month, if you don't have insurance this could be thousands. I now receive his chemo from VA at a co pay of $9.00, soyes I would get your self to VA asap. Also try the PAN foundation for a grant and depending on income the pharma may provide it low cost or free.


  • Skagway Jack
    Skagway Jack Member Posts: 224 Member
    Navy Vet too

    I served on a US Navy AOE Oiler ammunition ship in 1985 and 1986. I lost my right kidney to RCC in 2013 and so far I am NED since.  I have not found a way to connect my occurence of kidney cancer to service yet but I had hoped to connect with others on this site.    I also spent my career as a pilot, rotary and fixed wing and retired in 2014.  I had no family history of RCC.  Best wishes for my fellow shipmates and those suffering this disease.


  • 1917
    1917 Member Posts: 3
    edited March 2017 #4

    First, thank you for serving our country.Those of you working in Navy you should have gotton training for working with asbestos after 1980 and should have a record of that training. If not, consider applying for service connection. Those of you exposed prior To 1980 may want to ask a lawyer about the manufacturing of asbestos and manufacturers responsibility prior to 1980. My husband was exposed after 1980-no training record. 

  • James62
    James62 Member Posts: 4
    US Navy 1972- 1978

    The Nashville VA just told me I was over expose to asbestos. Alot of problems with chest. Cancer in kidney.

    Get proof where you were what kind of materials you handled or was handle their. Asbestos is like dust it flies. If you were around or work with people who handled materials you would need proof. The VFW , VA rep. for your city or county or American Legion. State Rep., US rep. and US Senators. I have good and bad in all of these. As you will find out they take their sweet time. Politican friend. Good luck and may God Bless You

  • Fleet Foot
    Fleet Foot Member Posts: 23 Member
    edited October 2021 #6
    Better Late than Never

    I just found this particular discussion board, at least six years too late for some on here to help but Asbestos is a stealthy killer.  It takes as long as 50 years after initial exposure to raise it's ugly head and by then it's usually too late to do anything.  Like MattInVa I too was an MM.  I was aboard a WWII era aircraft carrier in a fireroom on the steam generator.  When I went aboard the ship was in dry dock at Hunter's Point in San Francisco and later for a partial retrofit at the Bremerton Naval Shipyards.  No one seemed to know anything about asbestos in the mid 60's.  Most of us on our gang literally ate it while removing asbestos and it's lagging from steam lines for weeks on end.  When you're 19 years old you're indestructible.  Training for being around asbestos didn't exist until a couple of decades later, as 1917 posted.

    Fast forward almost fifty years and your doctor finds a mass on your lung during a routine XRay, which after a CT is defined as scattered, calcified pleural plaques probably benign.  Those same pleural plaques are evidence of asbestos exposure, often caused and are classified as more likely than not the cause of numerous breathing issues, for which the veteran is able to collect some medical benefit but the asbestos cannot be removed.

    AS James62 mentioned you can go ahead and contact your House and/or Senate member but mine are and were a joke when I wrote to each of them.  They replied, but did nothing.

    Get a good Veteran's Service Officer (VSO) though your county to file with the VA for you.  It's a simple process that often takes a couple of years to reach a conclusion but it costs nothing to do and in the long run helps.

    As you may be aware there are any number of Attorney's out there who "want to help".  Be very wary.