My Time in the Mines & a Decade with the NCP Family

As told by McCoy, one of Nuclear Care Partners’ first patients

McCoy, his son Shawn, & his grandson Cody (left to right)

I was 20 years old when I first started working in the uranium mines back in 1962. My father-in-law was a miner and he got me interested and I just kind of fell into it. I ended up working in the uranium mines until 1969.

For me, a typical day in the mines looked like drill, blast, and muck and sometimes hauling the ore out. At the time there was no ventilation to speak of other than the shafts to go down. There weren’t any restrictions, you could smoke in the heading or eat down there. They just didn’t know how dangerous it was. Thankfully they’ve taken steps to help protect folks and better ventilate the mines since then.

I really enjoyed the work and the 7 years I spent in the uranium mines in the Grants, New Mexico area.

From New Mexico we moved to Butte, Montana for 30 years and I worked underground in the copper mines out there. Then in 1991 I moved to Nevada, worked in Beatty in a gold mine, lived in Elko, Nevada, and now I have lived in Fallon, Nevada for about 6 years—which I enjoy because of the lower elevation and I can breathe a lot better.

I first started having respiratory problems back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, but I never thought that it could be linked to my time in the mines. I’ve since been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis due to silica dust, unspecified pneumoconiosis, and pulmonary fibrosis because of the exposure in the mines.

I’m especially grateful for Charity, my Field Case Manager. She was there right after I started with NCP and is real sweet. She’s truly become part of the family. She helped me get my percussion machine—a vest that blows air that vibrates my lungs to help keep them clear. I now see her about every few months.

“The day when McCoy came into my life is the day my life changed completely,” said Charity, Field Case Manager with Nuclear Care Partners. “It has been amazing to be able to be a part of maintaining his health. I am truly blessed to be part of his life.”

What’s really special is that I have a son who is an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and another son who is a family caregiver for me, so they both care for me and are employed by Nuclear Care Partners. We get to see each other often and spend time together which is so nice.

I’ve really been taken care of and I only have good things to say about Nuclear Care Partners. I’m so grateful for them and I’m happy to be one of their very first patients.

To read this full article in our Summer 2021 edition of Atomic Health News, click here.