Janelle Bedel became an unlikely hero amid the horror caused by the once-extensive use of asbestos in America.
Bedel, 37, died Wednesday night after a courageous six-year battle with malignant pleural mesothelioma that transformed her from a shy, reserved, small-town woman in Indiana into a respected national spokesperson who worked long and hard to raise awareness and help others avoid her plight.
It is impossible to say what actually prompted Lincoln to lay aside his razor in the late fall of 1860, or even the degree to which Miss Bedells recommendation influenced his decision. On loan from Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection (0) Digital ID # al0069_01, Lincoln/Assets/al0069_02_Lincoln writes to eleven-year-old Grace Bedell: As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now?
However, during his trip to Washington as president-elect, Lincoln stopped at Westfield for a carefully orchestrated meeting with Miss Bedell, and to the delight of reporters and bystanders alike, kissed her and declared he had taken her advice. Some theorize that the spots on the letter are the result of snowflakes that fell on the page while Grace excitedly read the Republican candidates note on the way home from the post office.
Her condition started with a sudden and severe shortness of breath, originally diagnosed as asthma and bronchitis.
Republican political clubs decorated their headquarters with fence rails and organized massive rallies throughout the North.Radiation and chemotherapy became regular companions. In 2011, she discovered that the disease had spread to her abdominal cavity, prompting more surgeries and different extensive treatments.Earlier this month, she announced on her Facebook page that she was moving to hospice care, touching off a flurry of activity that has included hundreds of her Facebook followers changing their profile pictures to the Wonder Woman logo.Earlier this month, the local Hardees Restaurant in Rushville hosted a fundraising event that directed 20 percent of all food sales to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.The Corner Restaurant in Rushville, a town of 6,000, painted a “Wonder Woman” picture on its store-front window and proclaimed June 19 there as Janelle Bedel Day, offering a portion of its sales throughout the day to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Her appearance before Congress was instrumental in the Senate Resolution that now proclaims September 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.Fifty-eight years after the event, Grace Bedell responded to a request to retell the story of her childhood encounter with Abraham Lincoln, which took place in 1861 in Westfield, New York, during the president-elects train trip to Washington. At age sixty-nine, she still had vivid memories of Lincoln seeking her out in the crowd, taking her by the hand, and kissing her on the cheek. She did what she did, trying to help others.” Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news.His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.Although its use has dropped dramatically, asbestos remains legal and plentiful throughout the United States.“She wants to leave a legacy for her son,” Sharp told a few days before Janelle died.