Posted on April 18, 2017
The Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN) mourns the loss of our own beloved Australian Mesothelioma Warrior, Louise “Lou” Williams, who passed away on April 18, 2017, after courageously battling mesothelioma for more than 14 years.
The impact Lou had on the world is unquestionable. She was a much-loved friend to many of us and an inspiring voice in raising asbestos awareness and fighting for a worldwide asbestos ban. In our VALOR blog, the outpouring of love and respect for Lou only just begins to demonstrate how many lives she has touched. “Kind,” “generous,” “graceful,” “strong,” “inspiration,” and “funny” are worlds frequently used when describing this wonderful woman.
Peter Tighe, CEO of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) said, “During my time at the agency and in the labour movement I have met many impressive people but none can compare to Lou Williams. Her tenacity and compassion are truly amazing; in the fight for fairness for asbestos victims and their families, no one could surpass Lou. If you are aware of her own personal battle, then you, like me, would be truly amazed of her commitment to others, forgetting her own pain and plight, a true warrior.”
Lou’s mesothelioma diagnosis in 2003 did not stop her from valiantly standing up against asbestos, collaborating for an international ban, and serving as a friend and resource to many. She served on boards of asbestos organizations and in addition to her active involvement with GBAN and Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) , she vigorously worked with the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA). In her blog, “I Will Not Die in Vain,” Lou shared her story and her mission to make a difference for others.
Barry Robson, president of ADFA, said, “Lou means a lot to victims with her mighty fight to beat this terrible disease. Her idea to have a petition for the Australian government to pay for the drug Keytruda to be free for all of the victims in our country — when this happens it will be her legacy.”
Lou was always an integral part of asbestos-related events, conferences, and rallies, including ADAO’s International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conferences. In 2014, my daughter Emily and I were honored to present Lou with ADAO’s Alan Reinstein Award, a stark recognition of her stalwart commitment to asbestos education, advocacy, and community support for countless patients and families around the world. When ADAO interviewed Lou about her award, she said that her proudest moments were “being a mum and giving birth to two beautiful daughters.” She was very proud of her daughters, and they have become mothers themselves.
ADAO grieves with Lou’s husband Keith, her daughters Deborah and Jo, her dearly loved grandchildren and friends. I am so very honored to have known Lou … we all are … and her spirit will continue to inspire. Lou herself said it best: “Every day I live for the moment, as that is all we all have! I believe I have a purpose in life and that is to raise asbestos awareness and if by doing so it saves even one life from this terrible cancer then I will be pleased and will not die in vain!”
Lou, you did not die in vain. You made an immeasurable difference — in the lives of countless fellow warriors and in our fight for a global ban. In your memory, we will continue the fight to save lives from asbestos. No one should have to know the pain Lou, her father, and so many of us have felt. We will love you forever, Lou.
With profound sadness,