Mesothelioma Awareness Day was September 26th, celebrating those who have lost their battle, those currently battling and the survivors of this rare cancer. It’s a great opportunity to educate on the dangers of asbestos and give hope to current patients–but my work goes well beyond this one day!
What is mesothelioma?
You might have heard about mesothelioma on commercials, but this rare, aggressive cancer is more complex than that. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a natural fiber humans have mined for thousands of years due to its heat resistant properties. When disturbed, it can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Mesothelioma is most commonly developed in the lining of the lungs, but can also affect the abdomen and heart. Approximately 3,000 are diagnosed each year, with about 2,500 dying annually from this disease.
Being a ten year survivor of mesothelioma is rare. The prognosis is typically very poor, with most patients being told they have 12 to 24 months to live. Without treatment, my doctor explained I’d have 15 months to live. I knew it wasn’t an option. At 36 years old, I had just given birth to our daughter, Lily, about three months before my diagnosis. We knew we had to do everything we could to beat this.
Treatment was extremely difficult. I flew to Boston for a surgery to remove my lung. After a month in Boston post surgery, I flew to my parents home in South Dakota, where my baby had been living while we were in Boston for my surgery. I couldn’t take care of Lily on my own in those first months after surgery and needed my parents help. We returned home to Minnesota where I went through chemo followed by an extremely trying 30 days of radiation.
Through my long recovery and healing process, I realized my passion to raise awareness. I began blogging about my journey to educate others on the disease, as well as provide hope to those currently facing the same grim diagnosis.
You can help too by spreading the word about mesothelioma and using your voice to help ban asbestos–the United States hasn’t joined 60+ other countries in banning this toxin. Mesothelioma is preventable, and the more voices we have can truly make a difference.