This is National Women’s Health Week (May 11-17). I spent it learning more about health issues that other women face. Out of all the stories I heard, Heather’s Mesothelioma battle stood out. I had to share.
Mesothelioma. Have you heard of it? There is a late night ad running encouraging people to call a specific law firm if a loved one has it. Have you seen the ad? While I’m not fond of this kind of client recruitment, if it helps raise awareness, I can get past the money-hungry reason behind it.
Malignant Mesothelioma was once considered a man’s disease, but this form of cancer affects women as well. Asbestos exposure, first or second-hand, is a primary risk factor of this disease. Do you remember hearing the panic about asbestos in buildings and blowing it off as no big deal? Many did, including me. Many years ago, there were many meetings at my my school about student, staff, and teacher asbestos exposure. I didn’t know what it meant and couldn’t be bothered back then. I was more interested in when the construction workers would finish the work and move on. The extra noise made me a little crazy while trying to concentrate on Algebra and Trig. It took years before I realized what we were exposed to and what could happen.
Heather Von St. James knows all too well what Mesothelioma can do. She’s an eight year survivor and spreads the word as a blogger with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. This organization has resources for patients and their families such as detailed information about the types of Mesothelioma, treatment, access to legal assistance, support, and straight talk from survivors like Heather. Thanks to her, I learned more about this disease than I’d previously known.
There are three known types of Malignant Mesothelioma. The form Heather survived, Pleural Mesothelioma, is the most common form and occurs in the lung. Peritoneal Mesothelioma occurs in the peritoneum , the lining of the abdominal cavity. Pericardial Mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart. Symptoms are diverse and common. Anemia, chest or back pain, difficulty swallowing, nausea, fluid buildup, and others are reported. If you experience the symptoms, go see your doctor. The sooner a diagnosis is made – or ruled out – the better.
Emily Walsh, another blogger with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, shared facts that terrify me. Asbestos exposure is responsible for the majority of occupational cancer cases in the United States. Asbestos can be found in houses, schools, and other buildings built before the 1970’s, and the substance is still not banned! How can that be? Even though warnings are issued about exposure – and no amount of exposure is safe. What will it take for a ban to occur?
Know your risks. Know that if you or a loved one is diagnosed, you are not alone. Heather, Emily, and the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance are there for you. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ to see the resources available to those who need it. Or go learn about the disease for yourself.
Until next time, share what you’ve learned and be safe. Take care, all.