Every year, around 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma emerge. A deadly form of cancer, mesothelioma has affected the lives of thousands since its discovery. However, this remains a relatively rare and misunderstood asbestos-related disease whose destructive path is wholly underestimated.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day was established in 2004 with this in mind. The movement takes place each year on September 26, marking an opportunity to raise public awareness of mesothelioma and raise funding for research. Since its inception 13 years ago, Mesothelioma Awareness Day has successfully landed “National Mesothelioma Awareness Day” proclamations by the United States House and Senate, secured local government proclamations and raised nearly $1 million dollars.
Despite over a decade of progress made by the campaign’s organizer, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) – as well as organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which spearheads equally influential research and awareness initiatives – little progress has been made in asbestos regulation. This year’s efforts, therefore, will be as important as ever.
Why Is Mesothelioma Awareness So Vital?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that affects the thin, protective lining of vital organs. The only known cause is asbestos, which, when inhaled or ingested upon exposure, wreaks irreversible damage on the body.
Although new cases emerge each year, mesothelioma diagnoses are still difficult to determine. Symptoms of the disease don’t appear until 10 to 50 years after first exposure to asbestos and even then they can be mistaken for other conditions. By this time, the disease is too advanced to be curable. Sadly, while mesothelioma is almost always lethal, it’s important to know that the outcome would have been different had the public known the risks.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the dangers of asbestos started to be taken seriously. Before then, asbestos manufacturers covered up the mineral’s health risks for the sake of corporate greed. But even after discovering mesothelioma, scientists had few resources available for investigation.
These two factors have kept the public largely in the dark about what we are facing. Even public health authorities such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have yet to insist on a full asbestos ban, meaning the toxic substance is still at large across the U.S. and putting even more lives at risk.
Have Your Say
Right now, there is no known “cure” for mesothelioma. Early detection of the disease is our best chance of treating the cancer before it’s too advanced. In order to do this, we need more advanced technology and research. We also need to fund treatment development for those who already have mesothelioma.
Donations are the surest way to contribute to this cause. But since education is also key, there are several other powerful ways to get involved. The Meso Foundation invites supporters to:
- Wear blue, the color of Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Dig into your wardrobe or purchase blue gear on the Foundation’s website, then get friends and family to join and share photos on social media.
- Use social media as a tool to educate, too. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is hosting an hour-long #ENDMeso Twitter Chat to help spark conversation.
- Add a blue Mesothelioma Awareness overlay to your social media profile pictures.
- Share infographics, facts and statistics with your online community. The Meso Foundation posts these regularly on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- If lucky enough to be in the area, join Foundation volunteers for a free event on the set of the Today show at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza on September 26. RSVP here.
With so much going on this year, we each have a golden opportunity to show our support. And with as many people as possible involved, we’ll take another critical step toward nationwide understanding of asbestos threats still gripping the nation and, hopefully, a complete ban.