26 September: Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Something a little different today, but hey – beauty bloggers can do their part by sharing information that potentially saves lives to their widespread audience right?

I received an email requesting this blog post from a man whose wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Three months after she gave birth to their daughter Lily, she was told she only had 15 months to live. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, she is thriving more than ever.

Since then, the Von St. James family has made it their mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma: a preventable disease that takes so many innocent lives.

So, what’s mesothelioma really?

Its a rare but serious cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It takes 20-50 years to develop and occurs in the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart. The mesothelium is a thin membrane that protects and lubricates different body cavities, such as the chest and abdominal cavities.

80% of all mesothelioma cases occur within the lining of the lungs. There are two other recognized types; peritoneal mesothelioma occurring in the abdominal lining, and pericardial mesothelioma occurring in the heart’s lining.

Causes of mesothelioma:

Mesothelioma is almost exclusively tied to prolonged asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that became very popular in the 20th century due to its heat resistance and insulating properties.

These fibers may be inhaled or ingested, and lodge themselves in the human body, which are difficult for the body to expel. In most cases, these fibers end up in the membrane (mesothelium) surrounding the lungs and chest known as the pleura. In other cases, the fibers may be ingested and end up in the peritoneal lining in the stomach and abdomen.

Over an extended time, these collected fibers agitate the pleural region, causing genetic damage and leading to the development of scar tissue. This can cause otherwise normal cells to become abnormal and replicate constantly. Tumors often grow on top of these scar tissues, which are called pleural plaques. Tumors may also begin to grow in the abdominal region, causing malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. In some cases, asbestos fibers find their way to the pericardial lining surrounding the heart and cause pericardial mesothelioma.

Abestos?

They’re the only known cause of mesothelioma, is a fibrous mineral found in rocks and soil. Prior to 1980, it was commonly used in building and construction materials in buildings, homes, and schools. The shocking bit? 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today.

Don’t just think that the United States are half a world away from us and you won’t be affected by this. Asbestos is used as building material in several developing countries throughout the world, including India and Brazil. Industrialized nations such as China, Russia, and Canada also continue to mine and use asbestos as material for consumer products such as toasters hairdryers, and over 3,000 other items. Do quick check – how many electronics in your house bear the “Made in China” stamp?

That damning decision.

On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result of the Court’s decision, only a few asbestos-containing products remain banned.

This year alone, 10,000 Americans will die of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma and 200,000 people will be living with asbestos.

What you could do to help:

People diagnosed with mesothelioma are given roughly 10 months to live, and survivors are few and far between. Lend your voice to the victims and make a difference. Check out Heather Von St. James’ campaign and share her message to help educate and save lives.

A simply click from you could be a daughter, a father or a wife to someone else. Play your part in September for Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

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