Thursday, September 25, 2014

10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day

September 26th is the 10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  If you are anything like me you have no clue about what this disease is, what causes it, or if there is a cure.  When Heather Von St. James contacted me and asked me to spread awareness, I accepted the challenge.  There's been a lot of that going on here lately.  Here is a little bit of what I learned:

What is Mesothelioma, anyway?

Our bodies have a thin layer of cells that line our internal organs.  This lining of cells is called the mesothelium.  Malignant Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that occurs in this layer of cells.  There are three types:

1.  Pleural Mesothelioma - Occurs in the pleura, the lining of the lungs.  Accounting for about 70% of the cases, this is the most common form.

2.  Peritonial Mesothelioma - Occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity.

3.  Pericardial Mesothelioma - Occurs in the lining of the heart.

What is the cause?

Plain and simple, Mesothelioma in all its forms is caused by exposure to asbestos.  It may be decades after exposure that an individual begins to show signs of having this disease.  As soon as a person exposed to asbestos begins exhibiting symptoms proper diagnosis should be sought from an expert.  The sooner this disease is caught the more options the exposed individual will have for treatment.

What symptoms should I look for?

Depending on the type of Mesothelioma one or more of these symptoms may be present.  Since some can be easily attributed to another cause most people have experienced symptoms for two or months before diagnosis.  Symptoms can include:
  • Low Back Pain
  • Side Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Persistent Cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of Sensory Capability
  • Coughing Up Blood
  • Facial and Arm Swelling
  • Hoarseness
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime and is exhibiting any of the above symptoms should promptly see their medical doctor.  Once a diagnosis is confirmed you will then be referred to a specialist.

What happens after diagnosis?

Treatment options and a treatment plan will be the topic of discussion when meeting with your specialist.  Recent developments and discoveries mean that there are now more treatment option available than ever before for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma.  Some options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  There are also clinical trials, experimental treatments, and other alternative options available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.  

If you would like to learn more about Mesothelioma please visit the following websites:

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Heather Von St. James ~ Mesothelioma Survivor

Heather with her daughter Lily.

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