What if you were told you only have 300 days to live?
Unfortunately, those are the odds given to the victims diagnosed with Mesothelioma.
Today, September 26th, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day
and I want to share a story with you.
Not too long ago, I received an email from Heather Von St. James asking for support in helping to spread awareness to this condition. While I had heard of Mesothelioma before, I honestly didn’t know that much about it other than what I’ve seen on those late-night commercials about hiring a lawyer for those asbestos lawsuits. I hate to admit it, but I never gave it a second thought once the commercials were over. Needless-to-say, when I read Heather’s story, I felt pretty lousy about my ignorance.
Often, I talk about the strength and courage it takes to live with a chronic illness. While most people don’t associate cancer as being a chronic illness – luckily for Heather – hers is. She has fought hard to survive this rare, yet highly fatal, form of cancer for 10 years now, and is now devoting her life to not only sharing her story but advocating for this terrible disease.
With how much her story inspired me, I obviously agreed to help her with sharing this cause. But first, I had to learn more about what Mesothelioma was all about. What I found, however, can only be described as shocking.
This is truly scary.
And all of us, especially those of us living in the U.S., should be concerned.
The following information was pulled directly from the Mesothelioma website:
Approximately 80% of mesothelioma cases can be attributed to asbestos exposure. Other potential risk factors include zeolites and radiation exposure.
An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. are at risk of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.
The latency period between first exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma is typically between 20 and 40 years.
The average age at which a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma is 74 (74 for males, 71 for females).
- 91% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are 55 or older.
Early detection is important, as there is a strong correlation between the age at which mesothelioma diagnosis occurs and survival:
Nearly five times as many men develop mesothelioma than women.
People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma live between 12 and 21 months on average. However, between 5% and 10% of mesothelioma survivors live for at least five years after diagnosis.
The average length of survival corresponds to the stage at which mesothelioma is diagnosed:
Types of Mesothelioma
Of the three types of mesothelioma that exist:
- 50% – 60% are epithelioid
- 10% – 20% are sarcomatoid (fibrous)
- 30% – 40% are mixed (biphasic)
The most common type of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma (lungs), which occurs in about 75% of mesothelioma cases. Most other cases consist of peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen), while pericardial mesothelioma (heart) and mesothelioma of the tunica vaginilis (testicles) are both very rare.
About 1 in 10 tumors that form in the pleura surrounding the lungs are cancerous and develop into malignant mesothelioma. The rest are benign.
Global Mesothelioma Impact
It is estimated that as many as 43,000 people around the world die annually from mesothelioma.
The highest rates of mesothelioma occur in Australia, Belgium, and Great Britain, with an average of 30 cases per million people.
Through 2020, the rate of death for malignant mesothelioma in developed countries is expected to increase by 5 – 10% annually.
The highest rates of incidence for mesothelioma occur in the Genoa Province of Italy, West Cape of Australia, and Northern Yorkshire area of the United Kingdom. However, mesothelioma was not included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) until the tenth revision, and many countries do not consistently report mesothelioma statistics. It is possible that there are much higher rates of incidence in Asia, Africa, and South America than is currently realized.
Asbestos is banned in at least 60 countries around the world. Although some of these bans are partial or allow exceptions, most are complete bans on the importation and manufacture of asbestos.
Personally, my question is WHY?
Why are we, as a nation, NOT more concerned about this issue?
Why is asbestos NOT banned in the U.S. currently? We are aware that it is, in fact, a serious problem.
It just doesn’t make sense.
Save a Life:
Know Where to Find Asbestos and When Can it Can Be a Problem?
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:
- STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
- RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
- CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation.
- DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
- SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling, or scraping the material.
- PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.
- ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, dilled, or cut.
- ARTIFICIAL ASHES AND EMBERS sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as FIREPROOF GLOVES, STOVE-TOP PADS, IRONING BOARD COVERS, and certain HAIRDRYERS.
- AUTOMOBILE BRAKE PADS AND LININGS, CLUTCH FACINGS, and GASKETS.
So I ask all of you to please spread the word.
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