Do you know what today is?
Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
Have no clue what mesothelioma is, let alone how to pronounce it?
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It affects the lining (pleura) of the lungs. This disease can also affect the heart (pleuracardial mesothelioma) and the stomach (peritoneal mesothelioma).
About 3,000 people are diagnosed in the United States per year. Compared to other diseases, this is a small number. By the year 2020, mesothelioma cases are predicted to reach their peak. Do you know why? Because this disease lays dormant for 20-50 years after the initial exposure. People don’t even know they have been affected, for years.
The disease is so rare, doctors are merely in the research phase trying to find a treatment. This rare cancer leaves the doctors empty-handed; no evidence indicative of the nature of this disease, aside from asbestos exposure being the main cause. Research is limited because the prognosis is usually about 10 months. The most these doctors are able to do is relieve the pain and prolong the lives of people affected by mesothelioma to be as comfortable as possible.
It was once used in several building materials, such as siding, insulation, and even some paints. In older homes, you might get a positive asbestos test because of the old materials used in building the home. Did you know that asbestos is also in cigarettes?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Counsel, it is the fibers that are dangerous because of inhalation. If you have asbestos in your home, they say not to disturb it. That there is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and the fibers are released. Read more here.
One of the major reasons people can be misdiagnosed is because the symptoms are subtle or appear to mimic other illnesses:
60% of patients with pleural mesothelioma (in lungs) experience lower back pain, side chest pain, and sometimes shortness of breath. Small numbers of people experience difficulty swallowing, fever, persistent cough, weight loss, and fatigue.
These symptoms can occur throughout the dormant stages of this disease, which is why it is difficult to correctly diagnose the patient. By the time a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the disease is in it’s later stages.
Meet the Von St James family: Cameron, Lily, and Heather.
Cameron reached out to me personally and asked if I would help them spread awareness of Mesothelioma by sharing their family’s story.
His wife, Heather, was diagnosed with Mesiothelioma shortly after giving birth to their daughter Lily.
Because of a life-saving surgery (extrapleural pneumonectomy), she surpassed the projected 15 months left to live.
That was EIGHT years ago!!!
Heather is one of a few survivors, battling the disease to this day. She is a brave and strong woman. Her and her family have made it their life’s mission to spread the word on this disease, so that other families will not suffer as they did.
Please share their message, which is now my message, on mesothelioma. Contribute your social media accounts for the day, sharing and spreading awareness on this disease!