Until very recently I had never even heard of Mesothelioma. It was one of those extremely sad rare cancers that didn’t seem to generate a lot of stories or news. In 2015 and 2016 I heard a lot more about mesothelioma when a good friend’s father passed away of the disease. Recently, a survivor reached out to me with her moving story and I thought I’d share a few facts for Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
This week September 26th marks Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD).
Heather Von St James is a survivor of ten years. She was a brand new Mom, whose newborn daughter was just three months old when she was diagnosed with this rare cancer. Von St. James lives just outside Minneapolis and devotes her time towards being an advocate for those affected. She also works to educate on the dangers of asbestos as it’s the only scientifically proven cause of mesothelioma – tragically still commonly found in homes, schools and commercial spaces built before 1980.
This cancer is not unlike lung cancer and is sometimes lumped in with lung cancer. BUT, unlike lung cancer this asbestos caused cancer affects the pleura and occurs in lungs, lining of the abdomen and the heart. Certain professions have historically been more at risk of developing this rare asbestos cancer because of exposure on the job. For instance, men and women from all four branches (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) of the United States military are at higher risk…than the rest of the population. In fact, the veteran population has been affected the most. Asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma, was used by the U.S. military in literally hundreds of applications.
Read Heather’s blog series here
A few facts about the type of cancer:
Caused by asbestos exposure.
Sometimes thought of as asbestos cancer.
There are now many alternatives to building with asbestos.
Asbestos is Now Banned in Many Countries
Many countries (55) have banned asbestos, because it is so toxic. In the 1980s asbestos was mined, exported and imported all over the world. Read Heather’s incredible story of how she was exposed as a child simply from her father’s work clothes. (That’s frightening.)
You can learn more now – (http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/) is a comprehensive site about this cancer. You can also donate and participate in the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This resource page has more on how to get involved.
I was moved by Heather’s story and wanted to share the facts. I think it’s time people understood more about this horrible cancer.