Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Mesothelioma?

Now that I'm officially finished with my treatment and setbacks (no more setbacks!), I'm looking forward to being able to give back and help others.  One of the ways I hope to be able to do that is to use this space to bring awareness to certain causes, especially dealing with cancer.  To that end, I was recently asked to participate in a campaign to raise awareness about mesothelioma, which is a preventable type of cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.  Having a relative who is a mesothelioma survivor, I was more than willing to help out and I learned a few things as well.

Up until now, the only thing I knew about mesothelioma was what I saw on TV commercials for lawsuit settlements.  The fact is that asbestos causes cancer; this type specifically.  I was shocked to learn that asbestos is not banned in the United States.  That seems like it would be a no brainer.  It should go without saying then that you should avoid any contact with asbestos, as total avoidance is the best prevention.  The truth is that even minor exposure can be deadly; it's not only an issue for people who worked in factories and had contact with it for years.  While it's not used even close to as much as it was in the past, it can still be found in old buildings.  Living in New England, we have plenty of those.  

Mesothelioma can also lie dormant for 20- 50 years before symptoms start manifesting, so if you had exposure years ago, don't brush off the symptoms (low back pain, side chest pain, shortness of breath, in addition to many others.)  The current five year survival rate is a low 10%, but that goes up significantly when the disease is caught in the early stages.  That is a sobering statistic, and even more reason to take asbestos exposure seriously.

For more information, go to www.mesothelioma.com

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