On Sept. 10, all the major television networks and several other broadcasters will once again air the 3-hour marathon Stand Up 2 Cancer. When SU2C aired in 2008, the program helped raise more than $100 million for cancer research spearheaded by The American Association for Cancer Research.  This year the program, interspersed with celebrity performances, will show viewers how five “Dream Teams” comprised of 13 scientists from across several disciplines are utilizing those dollars to extend cancer patients’ lives and to come closer to finding a cure.

The easy thing to do on this night would be to change the channel. I encourage you not to. Instead, I encourage you to listen because chances are you know someone whose life has been impacted by cancer. Chances are you’ve read news articles detailing how a person battled not only the physical, but the emotion and spiritual pain caused by a cancer diagnosis and won. Chances are you’ve told your kids not to smoke because you want to spare them that pain. Chances are you know where to find the next Relay for Life race in your community.

You know all of this. Everyone has heard of the super star cancers like breast cancer and pancreatic cancer, but what about those others with names so long you can’t remember how to pronounce? No one really knows about these orphan cancers like mesothelioma. Sometimes, not even your doctor.

Stand Up 2 Cancer provides an opportunity to have that conversation.

Every day I hear stories about people whose doctors didn’t know about mesothelioma. The diagnosis comes back and the patient’s doctor tells them to get their affairs in order because they only have six months to live.

If doctors don’t even know, how are you supposed to know that 3,000 new people are diagnosed with meso every year?  How are you supposed to know that asbestos, which causes meso, is still legal in the United States?  That the United States and Canada are the only two Western countries who have not taken significant efforts to ban asbestos? How are you supposed to know the research being done for other cancers helps meso and vice versa?

How are you supposed to know there’s hope for a cure and not just the superstar cancers like breast cancer, but for the orphan cancers like meso as well? Stand Up 2 Cancer, and other shows like it, is how you can know because it spotlights the work being done for all cancers so that someday there won’t be a need for us to know.