Everything seemed to be going smoothly for 39-year-old Kris Penny, who pulled fiber-optic cables for a living. Then he got a cancer called mesothelioma that’s almost always tied to asbestos exposure.
Until the morning of Sept. 25, 2014, life was treating Kris Penny well. His flooring company had just secured its first big contract.
But that morning, Penny, of Clermont, Fla., was feeling lethargic. He pulled into a McDonald’s for a cup of orange juice. Seconds after he drank it he doubled over in pain. “It felt like someone stabbed me in the stomach with a machete,” he said. A co-worker drove him to the emergency room.
When he awoke in the hospital, his wife, Lori McNamara, was beside him, crying. “I go, ‘What’s the matter? I’m still here,’ ” Penny said. The surgeon who’d opened up his abdomen had found it full of cancer — type to be determined. The doctor “pretty much told me to get my affairs in order, right there on the spot.”
The pathology results came in four days later. Penny learned that he had peritoneal mesothelioma — a rare cancer of the lining of the abdomen almost always tied to asbestos exposure. He concluded, after consulting with a lawyer, that he’d inhaled microscopic asbestos fibers about a decade earlier while installing fiber-optic cable underground. He sued telecommunications giant AT&T.
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