Cancer is the name given to a group of diseases that encompasses over 200 different types and sub-types of cancers. We are all aware of breast cancer, lung cancer and other familiar types but there are many others that we rarely hear anything about until they are brought to our attention by someone who is struggling. Mesothelioma is one of these cancers that I knew little about until now.
Today, September 26th has been designated as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. I would like to share some information about Mesothelioma with you:
- It is caused primarily by exposure to asbestos
- In many cases, up to 60 years will pass before the cancer develops in people who have been exposed to asbestos
- After being diagnosed, people are given about 10 months to live
- There is no known cure, however surgery, chemo and radiation have been helpful
- Incidence is rare but still have about 3000 cases each year in the US alone
- Secondary exposure can result in cancer due to asbestos being brought into the home by workers not properly cleaning their body or clothing
- Difficult to diagnose as symptoms closely resemble other respiratory problems
Did you know that a majority of cancers, over 90%, are caused by environmental factors including tobacco, obesity, infections, radiation and environmental pollutants? Asbestos is one of these pollutants that have been commonly used for years as building materials in homes, schools and commercial or industrial buildings. Asbestos was also used in about 3000 household items including toasters and hairdryers. It was at its peak production from the 1930’s until the late 1970’s when they started to realize that asbestos was causing harmful effects on people’s health.
Yet even though governments are aware that environmental pollutants are killing us, they are still allowing the use of materials such as asbestos. Mesothelioma is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States and Canada’s mesothelioma cancer rate is now one of the highest in the world. Due to pressure from asbestos opponents and the high death rate, Canada finally closed its last 2 remaining asbestos mines in 2011.
Thousands of people die each year from asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma and thousands more are living with the daily effects. We need to ensure that we are aware of any signs and symptoms and take action immediately to care for the health of ourselves and our loved ones. If you have the following symptoms and have ever worked in an industry or have been in contact with someone who has been exposed to asbestos, please see your doctor. The symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Chest pain
- Chronic cough
- Effusions (fluid) of the chest and abdomen
- Presence of blood in lung fluid
Heather Von St James is a Mesothelioma cancer survivor with a great attitude. In 2005 she was diagnosed shortly after the birth of her daughter and was only given a few months to live. Being a positive person, she was not ready to give up on living. She found a great doctor and got the best treatments available. Today, almost 9 years later, she is a happy and healthy wife and mother, who shares her story of hope with others around the world. You can read more about Heather by clicking on this link www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness. Here are some pictures of Heather and her precious family.
If you are ever diagnosed with cancer, please don’t lose hope. Find some good doctors, get support from family and friends, pray and keep a positive attitude. I’ve had family members with cancer who have survived and also some who haven’t. My grandmother and sister both had breast cancer surgeries that save their lives. My father had cancerous brain tumours and beat the odds of surviving not one but two experimental surgeries. A brother-in-law has been struggling with prostate cancer for several years. A nephew, sister-in-law and brother-in-law passed away from lung and kidney cancers due to cigarettes and alcohol. Cancer is very prevalent in my family and my husband’s family so I always encourage my children to get regular checkups and live a healthy lifestyle.