Have you ever heard of mesothelioma?
I hadn’t until a few days ago when a lovely chap by the name of Cameron St. James read this post and asked me if I’d take part in a campaign to spread awareness about it.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. In simple terms, it’s cancer of the membrane which covers the surface of most of our body’s organs.
There are two main types – pleural mesothelioma (chest) and peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen).
Facts and Stats
- Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma.
- More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year (between 2000 and 3000 in the United States)
- It usually takes between 20 – 50 years for the symptoms to appear.
- Men are more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer than women. This is because, at the height of exposure to asbestos, most of the workforce were men.
- Mesothelioma can be caused by secondary exposure to asbestos fibres – for example – bringing dust home on their clothing.
Symptoms include rapid weight loss, shortness of breath, pain in the lower back or the side of the chest, high temperatures, sweating, a persistent cough and sickness. Also a swollen tummy, tummy pain and changes to bowel habits with peritoneal mesothelioma
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material from the 1950’s and was used regularly until 1999 when it was banned in the UK.
Surprisingly, the United States still hasn’t banned asbestos outright.
Where Can it be Found?
It can be found in many buildings, including schools, hospitals and homes. Being highly heat resistant, it was widely used in insulation and fire proofing – being used in products such as ceiling tiles, boilers, garage roof tiles etc. as well as being used as a bonding agent in plaster and artex.
What’s the Danger?
Asbestos materials which are in good condition are safe until disturbed.
Working on or near damaged asbestos material could increase your chances of developing an asbestos related disease.
When asbestos is disturbed and fibres are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. It takes many years for the disease to develop – this is why it’s known as the silent killer.
There are other factors involved such as how much exposure to the asbestos, for how long and to which kind.
Asbestos and Health Regulations
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that owners of buildings such as factories, schools and hospitals have a duty to manage asbestos by removing it if possible or making sure that it doesn’t get damaged. Any employer in an industry where coming into contact with asbestos is a possibility, such as construction, must give annual training to employees who are at risk.
Heather Von St. James’s father worked in the construction industry and the exposure to the asbestos dust that he brought home on his clothing is how she came to be diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma at 36 years of age – just a few months after the birth of her first child, Lily.
She was given 15 months to live.
In 2006, Heather underwent extensive surgery and later that year was given the all clear.
Heather describes herself as a cancer survivor and her story is special because mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer. Historically, the prognosis hasn’t been great but survival rates are increasing and early detection plays a vital role in improving it.
What hits you about this amazing lady is how positive she is and it’s no wonder that she has become a research funding advocate and inspirational speaker for mesothelioma and asbestos disease awareness.
Not everybody is as lucky as Heather – we have a long way to go but with awareness we will be able to see more success stories like hers.
Up yours, Cancer!!
Awareness Saves Lives
It isn’t just construction workers and other professionals who need to be aware of the dangers of asbestos.. the dangers can be in our own homes, especially in houses built before 2000 so it’s important to read up on the facts before undertaking DIY projects. Not sure? – get an expert in. You can’t put a price on your health or that of your family.
I have read many blog posts in the last few days and discovered a community of bloggers or ‘mesowarriors’ who are helping to raise awareness for this preventable cancer.
When I agreed to help Cameron, I knew nothing about the disease and very little about asbestos aside the word itself putting the shits up people but that’s the whole point of the exercise – to educate.
I’d like to thank Cameron for giving me the opportunity to do something worthwhile with my little corner of cyber space and to wish him and his beautiful family all the very best for the future.
With hope, the odds don’t matter ~ Heather Von St. James
Links of interest
Image of Cameron, Lily and Heather used with permission.
All content provided on this post is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information in this post or found by following any link attached to it.
with hope, the odds don’t matter.
Heather Von St. James – Mesothelioma Survivor
– See more at: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.U7KPwLHSb3g