Did you know that every day I on my board in my classroom, I share a national event/holiday/awareness day that occurs on that date? Sometimes they're silly. Sometimes they're boring. And sometimes, I write them up there hoping to bring something to my students' attention.
It was recently brought to my attention that September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
To be honest, I never thought too much about mesothelioma beyond hearing it mentioned in those class action lawsuit commercials that always come on during Judge Judy.
It seemed like something that didn't affect women, especially young women. And I thought it we figured out the cause of it (asbestos exposure), people weren't going to really get it anymore.
But then Cameron Von St. James reached out to me about his family's story.
His wife, Heather, was diagnosed with mesothelioma just after giving birth to their daughter. She was given only a short time to live, only 15 months. And that was actually better than average for this disease. Of the 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed each year, most are give only they are given 10 months to live.
But after a life saving surgery - including removing one of her lungs - Heather is now one of the few mesothelioma survivors.
She, and her family, now make it their goal to raise awareness of mesothelioma.
Cameron shared some facts with me about mesothelioma that I never knew before.
Like what mesothelioma actually was. Its an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the "mesothelium". And the only know cause is exposure to asbestos.
And that it isn't only in the lungs. While 80% of the time it is, it can also occur in the abdominal lining and heart's lining.
Or that there is a such thing as second hand asbestos exposure from parents or spouses who work with the material. Even though mesothelioma is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 (it usually sits dormant in the body for 20-50 years after initially being exposed to asbestos). It isn't uncommon for younger generations who may have had second hand exposure. And the incidence in women is on the rise too, largely due to this second hand exposure.
So today I'm using my post to raise awareness to some of these facts. And hopefully one of my students notices today's special day on the board, and asks me about it!
For more information, you can check out Heather's awareness page or mesothelioma.com.