Mesothelioma is no Ebola but knowing this makes the disease no less scary for those it affects. A few weeks ago, I didn’t even know what it was until I was contacted by Cameron Von St. James, the husband of a Mesothelioma survivor. He requested I help spread awareness about the disease by simply writing a blog post. I am no expert, I admit. I’ve never had experience with this disease. But their story of survival, of hope and faith touched me somehow. And if sharing with you a few things I’ve learnt while doing my research could help – even just a little bit – how could I refuse Cameron’s request?
Limit exposure to asbestos products
Like most cancers, mesothelioma results from exposure to a carcinogen, in this case a naturally occurring mineral called asbestos. Since this mineral has been widely used in numerous industries to create construction material and even plastics, it’s important that we limit exposure to these volatile products.
But how do you know if you have asbestos products in your home or even at your workplace? Knowledge is the key. Having an idea about what to look for can provide insight for any individual concerned about asbestos exposure. First, you can research which household or construction-based products contain asbestos or check governmental agencies to verify what procedures are put in place to protect citizens who may be exposed to this dangerous material.
Get professional help if your home or workplace contains asbestos
Since asbestos has been widely used for decades and remains legal in numerous countries across the world, it’s likely that far more persons are exposed to it than we might think. But if you suspect that it’s in your home or workplace, don’t attempt to remove it. Get professional help.
Professionals are equipped with the proper tools that prevent fibres from being released in the air or contaminating the lungs. They also perform air quality tests to ensure that after the material is removed, no harmful fibres remain.
Early diagnosis is the key – get regular checkups!
If you are like me, going to the doctor’s office gives you the creeps, especially when you see sick persons sneezing and coughing, releasing who knows what into the air, touching doorknobs… But regular checkups are vital if you want to increase your chances of detecting the disease before it spreads.
Mesothelioma is the kind of cancer that often remains undetected for decades, up to fifty years in fact. During this time it could spread from the original tumour site, usually the lining of your lungs, to lymph nodes and other organs. That explains why on average persons diagnosed with mesothelioma are given about 10 months to live according to Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. By then the disease has done so much damage that even corrective surgery would make little difference.
That’s why it’s so important for you to get regular checkups, be physically active and eat healthy. You’ll be better prepared to fight the disease, especially if you are diagnosed while the disease is in its early stages.
Live life abundantly & never take a moment for granted
Life is a gift – one that’s too often taken for granted until periods of sickness or tragedy prove just how much it’s worth. Sometimes sickness helps us determine what’s important as was the case with Cameron Von St. James and his family.
But remember this: you don’t have to wait until you’re sick to start living your life. You can make sure that no day goes to waste by living life more abundantly. Develop that fighting spirit – that attitude of resilience – that helped Heather Von St. James become a mesothelioma survivor. You can begin now.
Take life by its horns, pursue your dreams and develop a sense of purpose. You’ll be far better prepared to fight mesothelioma or whatever challenges may come your way in the future.
Know the facts & let them guide you
Like any disease, awareness about mesothelioma can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Do your research so you can know the facts about the disease, then apply relevant preventative measures. Remember that you don’t have to be working in an asbestos mine to develop the disease – second hand exposure by handling clothes laden with asbestos fibres could be just as dangerous, as was the case for Heather.
Remember also that mesothelioma mostly affect the lungs (pleural mesothelioma). Learn to recognise the symptoms which could include lower back pain, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing or coughing up blood. Seek a doctor if these symptoms persist.
When serious illness hits, it often leads us to reevaluate our lives, to determine what matters most. However, don’t wait until you’re sick to start charting your life’s course. Begin now by implementing lifestyle changes that could limit your chances of developing diseases like mesothelioma. Remember awareness is the key. Do your research and live life to the fullest.