In case you didn’t know, today is an awareness day for mesothelioma cancer which is a rare type that few people know about. It happens in the thin layer of cells which line the body’s internal organs known as the mesothelium and can be developed by exposure to asbestos at home or in a working environment. Common symptoms can include trouble breathing, vomiting and chest pain that effects 3,000 people in the USA each year, mainly because asbestos isn’t banned.
Here are some quick facts:
> Once mesothelioma is discovered, the patient is given on average 10 months to live
> 43,000 people around the world die from mesothelioma per year
> There is a delay period of 20-25 years before symptoms develop
> Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy
> Navy Veterans are at the greatest risk as asbestos is widely used in ships & shipyards
However, I will shed some positive light on this post. I’d like to introduce you to a very inspirational woman who beat mesothelioma cancer and is living life to the fullest ten years since her diagnosis.
Her name is Heather Von St. James and her exposure happened when she was a child. Her father was a construction worker and when he came home, Heather would wear his coat which was covered in asbestos. As an adult she began to loose weight and then found it difficult to breathe. Three and a half months after her daughter was born, she was diagnosed with the disease at 36 years old. Heather was sent to see Dr. Sugarbaker in Boston and faced surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Having survived and gone through so much, she tells her emotional story on her blog which you can read here. The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website is also a fantastic resource for information on treatments, doctors and centers.
Like Heather said, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Thank you for contacting me Heather. You have taught me so much and are a huge inspiration, not just for your survival but for the help you have given others. I wish you all the best and more, you and your family truly deserve it.
P.S: The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is also hosting it’s first tweet chat where people taking part can ask questions and spread awareness in honor of mesothelioma victims!