Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2017: September 26

Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center

Three years ago, a courageous woman named Heather Von St. James contacted me with the intention to raise awareness for Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. I wrote about her story and this vicious form of cancer in an article called Mesothelioma Awareness Day: September 26, 2014.

Just this past week, I was contacted by another Mesothelioma patient named Virgil Anderson, who continues to live with the affects from this disease. He and many others seek to raise awareness for this mostly preventable illness.

Today, September 26, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which is nationally recognized by the U.S. government since 2004. The main goals of this campaign are to support those living with Mesothelioma, raise money to research a cure and warn the public of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Mesothelioma is a rare, but vicious form of cancer most often caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral formerly used for making insulation and fireproof materials. The trouble with this textile is that it is made up of small fibers, which can come loose and get into the air. As you breathe in these particles, they get lodged into the tissues of your body, specifically impacting the thin membrane that protects your lungs, heart and abdominal organs.

This aggressive disease is tricky because of the long latency period of up to fifty years between the time of asbestos exposure and when the symptoms begin to appear. Medical science has come a long way to understanding and increasing ways to improve the lives of those diagnosed, but there is still no cure for asbestos illnesses.

Early diagnosis is key in this aggressive cancer. It is very important to be aware of the early signs and seek medical attention. Knowing whether you have come in contact with asbestos at any point in your life, even second-hand, will help medical practitioners reach an accurate diagnosis. Specific tests such as CT scans and collecting tissue samples can help determine Mesothelioma apart from other diseases.

Mesothelioma symptoms vary by type, but common symptoms include fatigue and weight loss. The location of the original tumor determines much of the additional symptoms. For example pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lungs, symptoms include difficult breathing and respiratory system breakdown. Whereas peritoneal mesothelioma affect the abdomen and digestion. For more information about specific symptoms for various types of Mesothelioma visit Mesothelioma.net.

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

We live in a different world now that we know and understand the ramifications of using asbestos materials. There are strict regulations in place by the federal government to protect from this type of infection; however, the material itself is not banned. Awareness is the key to avoid asbestos exposure by taking proper safety precautions.

Even with prevention in place, it is important for those working in technical fields such as construction workers, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and HVAC technicians. There are precautions, equipment and training that allows work around asbestos to be a safe environment, but you must know about it and follow through completely on the procedures.  Even if you do not handle asbestos directly, you could be exposed by being in the work environment. Always be aware of the materials and safety procedures being used on a job site.

Work in skill trades is rewarding and can provide an brilliant future, but it important to keep yourself safe. If you are working on a job site and question the safety of your environment, do not be afraid to speak out to your boss or contact OSHA to make sure safety regulations are properly met. Though the risks of asbestos exposure is much lower now than ever, being aware of your environment is key to enjoying a long, healthy life.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

There are many things you can do to raise awareness today: 

  • Wear blue in support of those living with this disease 
  • Start conversations to bring awareness to the issue. 
  • Participate in events to spread awareness 
  • Donate money to a mesothelioma research initiative
  • Write to your legislators, at the federal and state level, to encourage greater asbestos restrictions or even an outright ban
  • Share facts and information online and through social media
  • If you are directly affected, share you story
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is a perfect chance to spread awareness about the danger of asbestos exposure and increase awareness for early diagnosis. It is also an opportunity for people to come together in support of those affected by the disease and those looking for a cure. 

Additional Links:
General information
Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Asbestos Safety Advice for Tech Students

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