Cancer is not something I had ever really thought much about, until the age of 15 when my sisters best friend was diagnosed with it, and sadly lost her battle only 9 short months later, at the age of 17, mere weeks before graduating from high school. Cancer knows no ages, it knows no ethnicity,it knows no social class. It doesn't care if you're a child, a mother, or a father. There are so many different types of cancers out there, it's pretty overwhelming. Each one, is equally as terrifying, but some have greater odds to beat it than others. Some get substantially more research than others. I understand why the more common diseases get more search, it only makes sense BUT I pray that one day ALL cancers will be researched equally and cured. No one should EVER have to lose their battle with cancer in this day and age when we have so much medical knowledge and advancements at our finger tips.
I'm sure you've heard of the common cancers like leukemia, breast cancer, and colon cancer, but chances are you may not know about the less talked about ones, like mesothelioma. To be honest, I didn't know much about mesothelioma...other than commercials I've seen on TV for law offices representing people exposed to asbestos, which causes this form of cancer, and an episode of NY Med where a patient was diagnosed with mesothelioma, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Until I was approached by Heather Von St. James, an 8 year mesothelioma survivor, inquiring if I would write up a blog post, to bring awareness to this relatively unknown cancer. Social media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be SO negative sometimes, that I jumped at the opportunity to post something that could put a face, a name, a family to something you might not otherwise know about!
First things first...what is a asbestos? It is a natural occurring mineral that was often used as a building material in homes, schools and commercial/industrial buildings. From the 1930's to the 1970's asbestos was at its highest production and usage. In 1989 the EPA banned most asbestos containing products but this decision was overturned in 1991 leaving only a few asbestos containing products banned. What!?!??! How is something that is known to cause 100,000 cases per year (in America) of asbestos related diseases still allowed to be used!??!? Awareness is key friends! If you don't know about it, you can't be angry about it, and you can't fight for it to be stopped! For more alarming facts about asbestos click here.
As a mother, there are two things I fear in this world the most....losing one of my children and leaving this Earth, leaving my children motherless. I just truly can't imagine (and I pray everyday I'll never know either of those feelings!) But for Heather, she had just given birth to her daughter Lily when she was diagnosed, and given 15 months to live! 15 months...think about that for just one second...you have a newborn baby at home, a husband, family, and you are told that in less than 2 years, you won't be here. It's unimaginable. But that's what Heather was told. She knew, as a mother and a wife, that prognosis wasn't acceptable so she took drastic measures to improve her odds of living. She had life safe surgery that included the removal of her entire left lung, a rib and half of a diaphragm. With her 2nd chance at life, she has chosen to bring awareness to this cancer!
Heather and her beautiful family!
Mesothelioma is still considered a rare cancer in America as "only" 2500 to 3000 cases are diagnosed each year, but behind that "rare" number is a mother, wife, father, husband, grandfather, grandmother, well, you get the picture! Cases are expected to increase as incidences of exposure to asbestos become more known. We must spread awareness for this horrible disease!
Although there is no known cure for this disease, there are treatment options available but awareness and detection are key!
="http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/prognosis/" target="_blank" title="Mesothelioma Prognosis By Stage" style="background: url('http://www.mesothelioma.com/images/mesothelioma-prognosis.jpg') top left no-repeat; display: block; height: 410px; text-indent: -9000px; width: 508px;">Mesothelioma Prognosis By Stage
Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; margin: 4px 4px 12px 4px;">Image courtesy of the href="http://www.mesothelioma.com/">Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
Take time to become informed. Take time to read about Heathers journey. Don't sit back and think, "Oh well, this will never happen to me!" because friends, we have no idea what today holds, and knowledge is key!