The Widow Speaks
July 11, 2010
By Carol Smith
Read the whole package here.
Bruce Harrison had been an oncology pharmacist since the late 1970s. He had seen the evolution – or lack of it – in safety awareness during that time, but he spent much of his career trying to change attitudes toward safe practices through research.
Harrison, who for years was a clinical pharmacy specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis, was also one of the authors of the strictest set of voluntary guidelines, issued in 2004 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, for the safe handling of chemo and other hazardous drugs for healthcare workers.
Practices that, had they been in place throughout his career, might have saved his own life.
Harrison died at age 59 in St. Louis in August of a rare form of oral cancer. He had never smoked, or chewed tobacco. He had no other known risk factors, except he had mixed a lot of chemo for other people in his career as a pharmacist.
He discussed it with his doctor.
“There was no way they could prove it, but the two of them decided it could be related,” said his widow, Kathy Harrison. “Bruce absolutely believed it was triggered by his exposure.”
She’s grateful her husband had a long career doing something he loved. She’s also sad, and frustrated, that it may have cost him his life.
And she worries it will cost others theirs.
“What frustrated him the most, there was not enough done – not enough studies done to prove it was the danger it was,” said Harrison. “I think there needs to be more done to provide more providers with safe handling techniques.
“It doesn’t exist in enough places,” she said. “There’s not enough education about it. Education and training, and right equipment are key.”
Wealth & Poverty | February 2013
“It was just common knowledge – when you turn 18, you’re done,” Sharayah Lane said. “After the checks stopped coming, we all went our separate ways."
End of the Line is a new series by Claudia Rowe asking what happens when teens get too old for foster care in Washington State.
Photo Credit: Jon Connell/Flickr
Environment | January 2013
Meet America's newest sharecroppers. Guys like Jared Bright who vie for control of the Pacific fishing industry's lower rungs, the only rungs that seem to be left. They don't own the halibut, not even when it lands in their boats.
Lee van der Voo uncovers absentee landlords, brokers and bankers, and fish quota that costs more than your house — realities that fly in the face of more official, rosy portrayals.
Health | November 2012
Kids with multiple sclerosis, historically an adult disorder, offer researchers a set of intriguing new clues about the disease that could lead, eventually, to better treatments.
With adolescent MS on the rise in the Northwest, Carol Smith meets a young patient who is learning to live with the disease at the age of 16, and the doctors and scientists trying to keep her healthy.
Environment | October 2012
In 1972, Congress enacted legislation to end water pollution. Forty years later, American rivers and lakes are still badly contaminated, and new threats to clean water are outpacing the Act's enforcers. Follow along as InvestigateWest and EarthFix investigate.
Environment | June 2012
As local governments trade away public parkland, the safeguards put in place by the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect that land are full of holes.
Public Health | January 2012
The Prescription Epidemic
As Washington enacts the strongest prescription drug law in the country, InvestigateWest presents a six-month investigation into the origins of the prescription epidemic, the challenge it poses for communities, and what lessons other states might learn.