Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mesothelioma and it's Awareness

In today's competitive world, there are only a few words that can make anybody's life come to a screeching halt.

Cancer is one such word.

Although sometimes it feels as if a flight attendant is offering, "Can, sir" but I wish it were that simple.

This word has gained so much popularity in all latitudes and longitudes of our planet that it normally does not need translation. As it creates havoc in the body by some cells that have broken the rules of division and thus, continue to create mayhem.

 Result: This clan of unruly cells need to be curbed thus a particular human body goes into chemotherapy with the hope to destroy them. Sure, it sounds like any video game that kids play these days. But, I wish it was that simple.

The journey of chemo and radiation to kill those cells is painful while agonizing over the fear of your loved ones who are rooting over your welfare can be mind-blowing.

This story is about a young lady by the name of Heather Von St. James. She was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in November of 2005. This was due to an exposure of her dad's work jacket who was a miner and had worked with asbestos. The cancer was in the lining of her left lung thus, making the doctor declare that she had only about 15 months to live.

Such news was devastating since she was a new mom to a precious baby girl of three months, Lily. She needed a life. She wanted more breaths to be able to nurture her daughter and see her grow up into a beautiful young girl.

In her own words that touched my heart:
It was during those long sleepless nights that something replaced the fear: Determination. I wasn’t going to let the cancer win. We were doing everything we could to beat this.

A cancer diagnosis takes away so much in an instant. That loss of control you thought you had over your life is another fear so many face, and we do everything possible to get control of the situation. To some, that can be denial. Others try to learn as much as possible and research every single detail of what they’re facing. I speak from experience when I say that neither way is the healthiest thing to do, but you never know how you will react until faced with the situation.

I don’t know if I ever was in denial… perhaps a healthy case of naivety, but I didn’t deny what I was up against. I didn’t do too much research online because everything I read had me dead and buried within a couple of years. My course of action was to spend as much time with my daughter and family as much as possible, and pray a lot.

10 years later, I can look back and learn a lot about my fears. I now say that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. If you take a long hard look at fear, that is exactly what it is. It builds up to eclipse every rational thought, and when it comes time to face those fears, you realize that they are not what you thought.

When I faced my fears, I found out I was stronger than I ever imagined. 15 years ago, if you told me what I would face and what would happen, I would never have thought I could make it through. But I didn’t do it alone. I had the love and support of my husband every step of the way. Family and friends were there in my darkest times, and most importantly, I had my faith.

I encourage you to face your fears. I still have them, and will the rest of my life. Fear of my cancer coming back, fear of my husband getting sick, fear of my daughter getting sick… so many that if I let them take over, I would never be able to breathe. So I don’t let them, and I exhale.

She will celebrate a decade as a survivor from this heart-wrenching disease in February of the coming year!  She wants people to be aware of Mesothelioma and its number one cause.

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. Inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers may cause an inflammation of internal tissue and disrupt organ function that leads to the development of mesothelioma.

Approximately 80% of mesothelioma cases can be attributed to asbestos exposure. Other potential risk factors include zeolites and radiation exposure.
An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. are in danger of developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.
The latency period between first exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma is typical between 20 and 40 years.

For decades asbestos manufacturers and producers of commercial and consumer goods have known the dangers of asbestos and yet support it's continued use, even to this day around the world. Those affected by these products and exposure to asbestos now suffering from mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases face expensive legal battles against companies that knowingly exposed hardworking men, women and their families to this dangerous toxin. For those struggling, one option is exercising their legal rights with a competent mesothelioma lawyer, to help with both deciding if this is the right step, fully learning their legal rights and how to protect loved ones for the future.

There is an additional link for information about malignant mesothelioma that has been brought up by a lung cancer survivor who also fell victim to asbestos, Virgil Anderson who after a diagnosis of mesothelioma continued to fight for his life with a positive attitude.

As the saying goes: Prevention is better than cure. Let's be aware of our surroundings and be cautious of what we inhale since the kind of air we breathe in today will be the reason of our safe and healthy life tomorrow.

Mesothelioma is a preventable cancer. For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, please spread the word about the dangers of asbestos and together we can help save lives.

Let's try to avoid any more of Heathers' and/or  Virgils' who  fall victim to such 'can be avoidable' problem.

Mantra for today: We have to be in the present to be able to invoke awareness within us!

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