Awareness post: Mesothelioma

On average, people diagnosed with Mesothelioma are given 10 months to live.
That’s 300 days.
300 days to make the most out of your time with your family. To see sites you’ve dreamed about and to experience things that have been gathering dust on your bucket list.
In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, I’m sharing the story of Heather and her fight against this disease. In 2005, just months after giving birth to her daughter Lily at age 36, Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (affecting the lung’s lining in the chest cavity). She is believed to been exposed to asbestos when she was a young child, almost 30 prior, when her father worked around asbestos.
She was given just 15 months to live.
She and her husband immediately went out to find the top specialist in mesothelioma cases, and soon they found Dr. Sugarbaker, a renowned surgeon in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Heather was put through a ring of tests to see if she qualified for surgery, and two days before Christmas in 2005, she underwent the intense surgery to remove the lining of her lung, her left lung, 6th rib, half of her diaphragm and the lining of her heart. After recovering from surgery, a couple months later she started chemotherapy. After a few months of chemo, she then started radiation therapy and underwent an astounding 30 sessions and finished just under a year after her symptoms first appeared.

It has been 8 years since Heather’s diagnosis and she can happily say she is a survivor! She continues with checkups every 6 months, but thankfully has stayed cancer free! She has made it her mission to spread awareness and help others going through their own journey with mesothelioma.
You can watch more of her story here:
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The terrifying fact about asbestos is that “on average, 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today. The substance can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings. The EPA estimates that there are asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings.”
Mesothelioma is hard to diagnose because the symptoms can be mistaken for something else, or are too subtle to accurately diagnosis at first. Symptoms can take from 10-40 years to appear after exposure; it is very important to talk to your doctor if you know/believe you have been exposed to asbestos and to see a specialist.
While there is no cure, treatments typically include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery options are to remove the tumor, or to remove the lung itself. Sadly, there is a high chance the tumor will reappear after removal since it is very hard to remove it entirely, without taking the lung, so usually surgery is accompanied by radiation therapy.

Asbestos is STILL NOT BANNED in the US!

Symptoms include:
·         Shortness of breathe, muscle weakness
·         Lower back pain, side chest pain
·         Coughing up blood
·         Weight loss, fever, fatigue, persistent cough
·         Mesothelioma can sit dormant in the body for 20-50 years after exposure.
·         It is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70.
·         You can be exposed second hand from a family member who works in an asbestos affected workplace.
·         Asbestos remains the number one cause of occupational cancer in the US.
·         NO amount of exposure to asbestos is save.

If you live in a home built before the 70’s,
please have it checked for asbestos!!

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