Picture this: A sweet child skips down the sidewalk, lost in the land of imagination. She’s wearing daddy’s work jacket like a super hero cape, spinning, clicking her heels. Dwarfed inside the jacket with faint smells of her protector, she’s safe, invincible.
Decades later, in 2005, this child, Heather Von St. James, is diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to high levels of asbestos. In Heather’s case, it was as a result of secondhand exposure while dancing around in her father’s jacket, oblivious of its lethal potential.
April 1-7th is Asbestos Awareness Week. If you’re like me, you’ve heard asbestos is dangerous and keep this information filed away in case you ever remodel a home from the 1950s. Sadly, the asbestos disease threat is not something scary our parents dealt with, it is still lurking around in our modern day lives.
Here are just a few little known facts gleaned from Heather’s Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog page.
- Asbestos is not banned in the US – roughly 30 million pounds are used each year.
- More than 30 years after the peak of its use, asbestos exposure is the NUMBER ONE cause of occupational cancer in the US.
- Asbestos can still be found in many homes, schools, commercial and industrial buildings.
- No amount of exposure to asbestos is safe.
And here’s a few basic details about the disease Mesothelioma-
- The malignancy affects the pleura, a thin membrane of lubricating cells that lines the lungs and the chest wall. It sometimes takes ten years or more for changes to appear that are indicative of pleural disease, and even longer for symptoms to manifest.
- The primary cause of mesothelioma is inhaling or swallowing airborne asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber.
- The most common ways of being exposed are:
Here’s What We can All Do to Help:
First – Get to know Heather Von St. James, the lovely face representing this disease. She’s a wife, mother… real person, like me, like you. Watch her video. http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.VJmP-8AAA Her God graced story is one of hope, triumph, survival. Her heart’s mission is to spare others from the potential horrors of this cancer.
Second – Get more information. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization is a great place to start. http://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/ and also The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance – http://www.mesothelioma.com/.
Third- Spread the word. Now-a-days we can all be powerful promoters with facebook, pinterest, twitter and numerous other social media at our fingertips. Visit Heather’s Awareness Page at: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness/#.VR1rtuGVkg5. Contact her and ask how you can help her to educate others about this threat.
Lastly, keep talking. Every voice counts. Tell everyone you know. Stay involved by speaking out.
Let’s sweep Asbestos awareness out from under the rug before it crawls out, attacking more innocent victims.