July has been chosen by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance as the month of awareness of the danger represented by mesotelioma, a rare cancer primarily caused by exposure to asbestos.
US armed forces veterans are particularly at risk because asbestos was once highly regarded for its heat resistance and fire-proofing capabilities, leading to its extremely widespread employment in buildings, combat vehicles, aircraft, ships and electric wiring insulation. Asbestos is most dangerous when it becomes worn and damaged, flaking off and becoming airborne: breathing asbestos is a serious health hazard. Symptoms might not manifest until several decades after the original exposure to asbestos, and even then mesothelioma can result complex to diagnose due to symptoms easily mistaken for those of other, less serious respiratory conditions. When discovered, Mesothelioma is often at an advanced stage, leaving as little as 10 months to live to many of the close to 3000 people diagnosed with the illness every year.
It is important that the people faced with the struggle of illness are not left alone. Heather Von St. James, an eight year mesothelioma cancer survivor, is now a blogger and a campaigner for the banning of asbestos in the US, where law has still not acted, albeit thankfully its use has been curtailed from the mid-'70s when concern for its health implications was publicly discussed. Heather and the team of Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance are working to make their site the best resource for patients, families, and individuals wanting to learn more about the disease. With this post, I want to aid their campaign, and raise awareness of the Mesothelioma danger.
You can find more information at www.mesothelioma.com. I hope that my voice, added to that of many others, can provide help for those in need. Add your voice as well.