Tag Archives: mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Awareness Month: My Small Tribute to Cameron & Heather

23 Sep

Cam_Lil_HVSJ

I was honored when Cameron reached out to me and shared his family’s touching story. Eight years ago, his wife, Heather, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Three months after she gave birth to their daughter, Lily, Heather was told she only had 15 months to live. Could you imagine being given an expiration date? Well, she was. But, after a life-saving surgery, which included the removal of her left lung, she is alive and thriving more than ever. Below is a picture of the blessed family.

Since Heather is one a survivor of the rare cancer, their family made it their lives’ mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma, which is a preventable disease that takes so many innocent lives. In honor of the 10th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day (which is September 26th) they reached out to me to help spread the word by dedicating a blog post to share some eye-opening fats about mesothelioma.

“Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause to mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure was first linked to mesothelioma cancer in 1964. Worldwide mesothelioma cases are expected to reach their peak around the year 2020. Mesothelioma commonly sits dormant in the body for 20-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. 80% of all mesothelioma cases occur within the lining of the lungs. There are two other recognized types; peritoneal mesothelioma occurring in the abdominal lining, and pericardial mesothelioma occurring in the heart’s lining. Between 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. On average, they are given 10 months to live. Mesothelioma is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70, but it is not uncommon among younger generations who may have experienced second hand exposure. Mesotheliom incidence in women is on the rise because many women experienced second hand exposure from parents or spouses who worked closely with asbestos.” –Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance facts and statistics

On the culprit: Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is classified as a known human carcinogen, because of its association with mesothelioma. On average, 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today. The substance can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings. Even 30 years after the peak of its use, asbestos still remains as the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States. During the 1930’s until the late 1970’s asbestos was at its peak production and use. US Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict have the highest probability of having asbestos related health problems. Asbestos is used as building material in several developing countries throughout the world, including India and Brazil. Industrialized nations such as China, Russia, and Canada also continue to mine and use asbestos as material for consumer products. On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result of the Court’s decision, only a few asbestos-containing products remain banned. This year 10,000 Americans will die of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma and 200,000 people will be living with asbestos. To this day, asbestos is still found in many schools, homes, commercial, and industrial buildings. Asbestos was once used in common household items such as toasters, hairdryers, and over 3,000 other consumer products. The EPA estimates that there are asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings.” –Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance facts and statistics

My ex-boyfriend used to work in flooring. He had to wear face masks sometimes, but only when it was known that asbestos was under the tiles. It’s extremely dangerous for people to do this type of work for that reason. I remember he got pretty sick once, and we were both worried it could have been from asbestos exposure. So, asbestos isn’t as rare as you might think. It could be under the tiles in your house. Keep this in mind when considering remodeling your home.

“Asbestos may be found in many different products and many different places. Generally, any of the following materials* installed before 1981 are presumed to contain asbestos:

Sprayed on fire proofing and insulation in buildings

Insulation for pipes and boilers

Wall and ceiling insulation

Ceiling tiles

Floor tiles

Putties, caulks, and cements (such as in chemical carrying cement pipes)

Roofing shingles

Siding shingles on old residential buildings

Wall and ceiling texture in older buildings and homes

Joint compound in older buildings and homes

Plasters

Brake linings and clutch pads

* this listing is not complete

Buildings constructed prior to 1981 will have asbestos postings in most mechanical rooms.” –Princeton University Environmental Health & Safety

I hate to ask the obvious question here, but if Mesothelioma is preventable, and people are aware how dangerous asbestos is, then why are they still using it?!?!?! Where is the common sense in this?

The stats are frightening, and while I never believe in people receiving expiration dates, I do believe in miracles. Heather beat the odds, so if you or a loved one is living with mesothelioma, there is always hope. Miracles happen. People are saved every day. Heather is a prime example.

Heather- my heart goes out to you and your blessed family. Thank you, Heather and Cameron, for sharing your story with me. I wish your family nothing but the best life has to offer. I only hope this blog post will reach at least one person in some way.

The 10th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day is Friday, September 26th. Help spread the word on Mesothelioma Awareness! You never know. It could end up saving someone’s life. Knowledge is power.

Links:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness