Let’s Talk About: Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Awareness

One of the reasons I strive to live a healthy life is to avoid all the terrible things that will try to kill me on a daily basis. Besides car accidents, trees falling down during storms, or being the victim of a terrible crime, I feel I can take charge of the longevity of my life if I exercise, eat right, and avoid putting bad chemicals into my body. But I wasn’t always so concerned with such matters.

In 1998, at the ripe age of 23, I was diagnosed with Stage 1, Tier 2 Ovarian Cancer. Talk about a smack in the face. I didn’t even smoke. Alone and terrified, I didn’t deal with it well. Back then, I automatically thought that cancer = death sentence. Thankfully with surgery and chemotherapy, I thrived.

These days, I think about those who were not as lucky as I was. And that’s why I have taken control of what I CAN control.

Thing is, there are so many types of cancers that’s it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. Breast cancer is the most well known, because more men and women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year than any other type. And with the amount of celebrities who are diagnosed annually, breast cancer will always be in the spotlight.

But thousands of people are diagnosed and die from other types of cancers each year. And so many cancers are preventable by avoiding the carcinogens which cause them. Yet, if you work in a school, factory, or commercial building, it’s very possible that you are surrounded by certain carcinogens every day.

Wait? What are you talking about?

I’m talking about Asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral which was used as insulation to prevent heat loss. It’s fire resistant as well, which made it very popular to use in high-volume buildings commercial buildings as well as in older homes, as attic and wall insulation, roof tiles, and vinyl flooring for example.

The problem with asbestos is that becomes dangerous when it starts to break down and flake off. That’s when it’s material becomes airborne. It is possible to experience secondhand asbestos exposure by touching clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them.

So what?

Well, the downside to using asbestos is that it is the main cause one of the most aggressive cancers around: Mesothelioma.

There are 3 types of Mesothelioma and affects several parts of the body:

  • the lung’s protective lining in the chest cavity (Pleural mesothelioma)
  • the abdominal cavity (Peritoneal mesothelioma)
  • the cardiac cavity (Pericardial mesothelioma)

What makes mesothelioma particularly deadly is that it’s symptoms mirror other less serious respiratory conditions, so it is often misdiagnosed.

Some of the symptoms:

  • Anemia
  • Blood Clotting Disorder
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight Loss

By the time a person is diagnosed (30 -60 years AFTER the initial asbestos exposure), they are generally given only 10 months to live. Imagine being one of those 3,000 people annually to hear that news. And while men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than women, many women are becoming victims of mesothelioma through second hand exposure.

So, what can I do?

The point of this post is not to scare the crap out of you. It’s to share what I’ve learned and help you to make decisions that will positively affect your life by being proactive. If you have any concerns about asbestos, here’s what you can do.

Have a casual conversation with your employer or building engineer. Find out if your building or home has any asbestos insulation. If so, is it in good condition? Yes? Then leave it alone. No? How can it be removed safely?

Don’t just think that because you are the low man on the totem poll, that you don’t have the right to a healthy and safe workplace. My looking into asbestos in your workplace, you are not only protecting yourself, but everyone around you. How’s that for workplace team building.

If you’d like more information on Mesothelioma, check out the website for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Do you know anyone who has had Mesothelioma? Share your Mesothelioma story below.

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