Richard Mosca was only 54 when he came face to face with his own mortality. His diagnosis of mesothelioma, while emotionally devastating, also shone a bright light on everything he loved about life - family and friends, above all. He says, "I have learned to appreciate today and worry about tomorrow when it gets here."
After 35 years in the information technology field, Richard is "retired" now. While he enjoys time playing golf, fishing and traveling, he is also driven to help others diagnosed with mesothelioma. Through the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) he has found a "community where people from all over the world befriend each other, share valuable information and stories, answer questions, and reach out to each other during good and not so good times." Every year, the Meso Foundation holds an international symposium bringing together doctors, researchers, patients and caregivers, which, as Richard says, helps "all to keep informed, establish relationships, and bond with the meso community."
One of Richard's notable efforts to bring mesothelioma to the forefront of people's minds resulted in an official proclamation initially in Rockland County, New York, and later, in the State of New York, declaring September 26 "Mesothelioma Awareness Day." A much larger goal that he shares with others is to obtain a ban on asbestos use in the U.S.
When the Meso Foundation nominated Richard as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), a program managed by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, he was excited to be part of the peer review process evaluating mesotheloma-focused research proposals submitted to this program. Richard recalls that he felt some uncertainty as to how he might "fit in with the scientific community," in spite of his technical background. "It didn't take long before I realized they were human just like me. They just spoke a different language and it was part of my job to understand it, as it was theirs to understand mine. They made me feel comfortable right away and answered any questions I had regardless of how trivial they might have been. I think what impressed me the most was how each one of them took the time ... to reach out to me on a personal level. It may have been as simple as asking me where I was from and if I had a family to how, when, where I was treated" [for mesothelioma]. His experiences as a reviewer opened his eyes to the "many brilliant people out there wanting to help the mesothelioma community - compassionate and understanding medical professionals dedicated to treating and curing mesothelioma."