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VA disability for Mantle Cell Lymphoma (Vietnam Service)

leistch
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2014

I have just been diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Apparently it is directly related to my service in Vietnam. Has anyone had any experience in filing a VA claim? I am going to the DAV this morning and file the initial claim to get the date of claim locked in, and will talk to them about the procedure for getting VA disability. I would really like to hear from someone who has tried to get VA disability for this.

Thanks

Chuck Leist

illead's picture
illead
Posts: 863
Joined: Aug 2012

Welcome to the group.  My husband has MCL also.  I'm sorry, I cannot help you with VA info.  There are not too many on the site with MCL, but perhaps some can help you who have dealt with the VA with other forms of lymphoma.  I know that chromosome damage is a given, but I also read somewhere in my digging that pesticides etc. could be involved.   We both grew up here in the Sacramento Valley in a highly agricultural town during the 50's and 60's, pre regulations, and who knows what since then.  I very much  would be interested in knowing why they think it could be related to your service.  We all invite you to join us here anytime, we are a very supportive group and very willing to listen.  My husband Bill and I know what you are going through, it's not the greatest lymphoma to have for sure but no cancer is a friend.  I know you will respond well to your treatment though and they have a new "silver bullet" for relapse and the research is ongoing, so there is much room for optimism.

Our very best to you and your family as you fight this battle, Bill & Becky

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3550
Joined: May 2012

Chuck,

I have little familiarity with Mantle-type lymphoma. As Becky mentioned, it is quite uncommon (6% of all new NHL cases).  I used to receive my healthcare at VA, and worked as a vendor in the VA system for about a year in 2011 (I was never a VA Employee or a Federal Employee; my info is from the handouts they were giving the Vets).  At that time, a major initiative was underway in the VA system to provide services to persons confirmed to have Agent Orange-related illnesses.  My impression was that the determinzations were very bureauacratic:  Either your symptoms/disease were on the list of possible Agent Orange illnesses, or they were not. Cut and dried.

You did not mention if your claim is Agent Orange-related or not, but regardless, if you are claiming it is service-related, it will most likely have to be on one of their "Lists."   You are well-advised to use the DAV and any other administrative support you can get.  I always liked the care I got at VA, and their doctors are very good, although weighted down with tons of Federal red tape. At my local VA clinic (which is a large, regional office) all of their cancer treatments were contracted out to the local civilian hospital system's oncology center. I believe this is a common practice througout the VA .

The following is from a law firm, but reflects what I was saying about the "Lists" for accepted Vietnam-era illnesses. I have no relationship to them or any other law firm. The information is just a review of the new (2011) government policy .

http://www.disabilitylawclaims.com/blog/va-expands-list-of-vietnamrelated-presumptive-illnesses.cfm

This list does include Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, of which Mantle Cell is a form . It also says that if you were in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, you ar PRESUMED to have been exposed to herbicidal chemicals, and thus qualify .

The very best of luck with your efforts at VA, and in getting well,

max

 

rpetrich
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2016

I am retired Navy.  Was first diagnosised with Mantle Cell NHL in July 2007.  Did R-CHOP+ chemo, 6 sessions, followed by BEAM and stem-cell transplant(my own cells).  I went into remission in Sept/Oct of 2007.  Was good until April 2014, it came back.  Did six sessions of Rituxan and Bendamustine, went into remission again in Sept 2014.  I now have two more sessions of chemo to go on a two year/12 sessions maintenance treatment of Rituxan.  I'm not going to go into all the details of the side effects, but there's been a few.

As far as the the VA.  I applied for disability the first time in August 2007 and didn't get anything for the cancer, but did get for bad left knee and ringing in the ears.  Applied again in April 2015 and did get 100% for Mantle Cell NHL plus a few % for chemo induced side effects.  My rating letter states that the VA is going to re-evaluate me in April 2017 to determine if there's been any improvement in my condition.  My oncologist just laughed when I told him that and he said he would write a letter.

Should have mentioned at the beginning.  I didn't go to Viet Nam, but I was an electronics tech the whole time and used TCE chemicals alot.  That exposure has been proved to cause Mantle Cell NHL, so I think that's what got me the rating.

Will try to add more as I get a chance - computer battery running out.

fishnbanjo
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2016

I was hospitalized in 2008 with kidney failure and subsequent tests showed I had Mantle cell Lymphoma. I served in Vietnam from 9/69-9/70 6 1/2 months of this period was in Danang which was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange.

Since I was boots on the ground in Danang and Brown Water Navy in Tan An at PBR Mobile Base II my disability was approved as Mantle Cell is a Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and as a NHL was automatically presumed to my exposure to AO. If the veteran was boots on the ground or served within the waterways of Vietnam they should seek assistance through the DAV, Amer Legion or any Veteran organization that has a counselor to assist with their claim. Regards.

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3550
Joined: May 2012

Happy Veteran's Day to you fishnbanjo !

I'm glad your VA eligibility went without problems,

max

donV2
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2016

Ur local VA rep will help you get all your paper work done and in correctly...takes about 6 mo for it to get approved...you'll have to go get non related blood work and see a Dr they will pick out...not a problem for NHL...1 year in remission...did Bendamustine HCl/Rituximab

Cumel
Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2020

I have Mantle Cell Lymphoma. I believe it was caused by pesticides sprayed on cotton that was grown on the base that I was stationed on. Several pesticides linked to cancer were used including Roundup. I have documentation from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation that proves my allegations. I have started the process of applying for VA Disability.  Fight on Fellow Cancer Warriors!

 

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ShadyGuy
Posts: 576
Joined: Jan 2017

There was lymphoma long before there was Round Up. I was a civilian heavily exposed to Agent Orange in Nam, but even then it was hard. Do you have any photographic evidence you were exposed?  Pictures of Agent Orange barrels used as blast sheilds around my hooch really helped get some minor settlement. As a veteran ( I was a "civilian contractor" with no benefits) it should be easy for you to get free med care and maybe a monthly disability check. Basically, everyone in the world has been exposed at some point. Also lymphoma can, and often does, occur with no exposure. It is our bodies rebelling against themselves. It is us killing ourselves. I am a genealogy nut and belong to 23andme and Ancestry.com. 23andme did an analysis of human DNA compared to other species regarding lifespan. They determined the natural lifespan of humans to be 38 years. Our bodies are programmed to self destruct and lymphoma appears to be one of many ways it does that. No outside influences needed. It appears to be programmed into our DNA. Good luck and thank you for your service. I wish you well!

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illead
Posts: 863
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Cumel

   My husband has MCL and I don't know if this helps, but one of the ways to diagnose Mcl is that it causes chromosome change.  I believe that is fairly unique to other lymphomas,  My husband and I both grew up in the Sacramento Valley, highly agricultural in the 50's and 60's and during the days of DDT, malathion, parathion etc. with no regulations.  He played in the orchards all the time and mosquito abatement regularly fogged the streets with DDT. We also have Beale Air Force Base with their Pave Paws microwave station.  Our cancer center here is one of the busiest.  We are not pursuing any lawsuits but that is just a personal matter. I just thought I would put that out there for you.

Becky

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ShadyGuy
Posts: 576
Joined: Jan 2017

When we talk about genetic changes in cancer, it can become very confusing. One distinction is clear right away. Some genetic changes are inherited and are called germline mutations, the kind of mutations or other genetic changes you have programmed in your DNA from birth. Then there are acquired or somatic mutations- genetic changes that occur in your body after birth and later on in life. These can be from outside sources like radiation or chemicals but are most often from dumb luck mutations in cells as DNA is replicated while making new cells. Blood cells live only a few days or weeks and are constantly manufactured in the bone marrow. Make a few trillion blood cells a day and eventually some are going to have mutations possibly resulting in lymphoma or other cancers. Its a matter of odds. I was told that somatic changes are present in most lymphomas. The genes and chromosomes that make up our DNA are incredibly complex and mutations during replication are routine. Thats why my Y-Chromosome is not an exact copy of my Dad's. His mutated after birth. They all do. Its very similar and identifable as coming from him but it is not exactly the same. I am not my Dad, I am me. This is, I assume, one of the main drivers of evolution, which I believe in very strongly. Evolution would not exist if we lived forever and thus, I think, we evolved to have a limited lifespan. I realize many religions do not buy evolution and I respect their right to those beliefs.

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illead
Posts: 863
Joined: Aug 2012

This is from an article not my words

Mantle cell lymphomas (MCLs) comprise a rare but distinct clinicopathological entity usually associated with t(11;14). This translocation is regarded as a primary event, but it has been suggested that other as yet unidentified genetic alterations are required for development and progression of MCL. In order to identify recurrent secondary changes that might point towards specific chromosomal regions contributing to the pathogenesis of MCL we studied 43 MCL cases in which clonal chromosomal abnormalities have been found during cytogenetic analysis. In this series 83% of cases were characterized by t(11;14) and in the majority of them the t(11;14) was associated with multiple other chromosomal aberrations. Recurrent secondary changes were found in which imbalances of genetic material prevailed, losses being more common than gains. The former involved thirteen chromosomes, especially 13, 6q, 9q, 11q, 8/8p, 10/10p, and 14, whereas recurrent gains affected 3/3q. Non-randomly occurring breakpoints were relatively infrequent. The identified anomalies were also involved in aberrations observed in the group of MCL not associated with t(11;14). Some of them are shared with other B-cell proliferations. The data presented here indicate that MCL is characterized by consistently occurring secondary chromosome changes. Their significance for the development and/or progression of MCL needs to be elucidated and confirmed by further investigations.

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ShadyGuy
Posts: 576
Joined: Jan 2017

The NHL I have has two dislocations associated with it. But I cannot help but wonder what caused the dislocations. I flew an awful lot (literally millions of miles over my career) and often wondered if high altitude radiation could cause this cancer I have. There are studies that associate exposure to cosmic rays at high altitude greatly increases cancer risk by damaging DNA. But the fact is many things we are exposed almost daily can damage dna including self damage during replication. Viruses and other pathogens are know to cause cancers, including Hodgkins Lymphoma and some cases of uterine cancer for example. Most cells with damaged dna are detected and destroyed in the body, but sometimes a few get through. Plus lymphoma is a family of diseases associated with the actual immune system we count on to destroy damaged cells. I understand what you are saying about MCL and agree with you. It is a unique disease. 

Just a note on the estimated 38 year average lifespan if "left to nature". in 1900 the median age of death for males in America was 41. Pretty darn close! I am so thankful for our progress in medicine!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3550
Joined: May 2012

SG,

I am a skeptic as regards environmental cause of most cancers; the only clear linkage in common cancers is smoking with lung, and alcoholism with throat and esophagus cancers. Serious exposure in nuclear diaster is linked conclusively to leukemia and thyroid also.    I have been asked often if my life on a sub could be a factor, and metastudies find that men who do careers on nuclear powered boats have equal, or lower, occurence of cancers to the general population.  This includes even the Reactor techs, although getting near a reactor is not routine, even among them.   All submariners wear TLD radiological monitoring 24/7 (except in the shower), and these devices are checked and the values logged regularly.    I doubt that regular flying causes lymphomas; there is no such data among career pilots, for instance.

I continue to get labs back regarding my PTGC, and am negative for E-Barr virus, and also negative for several genetic markers.  Only issue discovered so far is substantial anemia and skewed Transferrin levels.

Aside:  most Christian and Jewish groups accept evolution, at least as a change mechanism within established life.   They mostly reject Darwinism as a cause of initial life creation.  The first discoverer of how genetic manipulation is possible was, of course, a Benedictine monk growing peas.    Also, among theorists at the highest levels in cosmology and astrophysics, more and more are writing that while the Big Bang is likely, it requires some form of previous causal factor -- God, if you will.    This is a generality and I will not dicuss it publically here any further.

 

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ShadyGuy
Posts: 576
Joined: Jan 2017

I was not aware Darwinism had an, opinion on  human creation per se but I do not know a lot about the man beyond the mechanics of evolution. Voyage of the Beagle is a great book. To me his most striking quote was " It is not the strongest or most intelligent who survive but the ones who best manage change" (SIC). Nowhere is that truth more evident than in our rapidly evolving economy due to rapid technical innovation.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

 

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