“I have made it my life’s mission to spread awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos.” Heather Von St. James
Do you know what Mesothelioma is? According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation), it is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, or heart, and a major risk factor for developing this form of cancer is exposure to asbestos. Every year, about 3000-3500 Americans are diagnosed and about 100,000 could die over the next 40 years. It is the least funded form of cancer and lacks adequate research grants/funds. But there is hope and opportunity for change – We can chip in and help.
Ten years ago the dismal figures, far worse than above, got the attention of people around the nation and led to a grassroots organizing effort that has helped raise over $1 million. How did this movement start? In 2004, groups of survivors, patients and volunteers gathered around the country to raise awareness and raise funds for mesothelioma research. Today, September 26th, 2014, marks the 10th anniversary of the persistent effort started in 2004, and we want everyone to raise their voices, educate themselves and others about this insidious disease.
“We learn to appreciate what we achieve, no matter how small the achievement, because we do it ourselves. Midge Rylander
Do you know any survivors of Mesothelioma? When Heather Von St. James reached out to me to share her story and information on this 10th Anniversary, I was struck by the fact that a person with mesothelioma becomes sick as a direct result of exposure to asbestos; a product that is NOT banned in the U.S. A person diagnosed with the disease has a life expectancy of just 18 months after diagnosis. Equally disturbing is that symptoms may not appear until 20-35 years after initial exposure to asbestos. Heather Von St. James’ story below is an inspiring and important reason why we must fund research and raise awareness about this disease:
“Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare and preventable cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. I had just given birth to my daughter and I was given 15 months to live. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of my left lung, I have made it my life’s mission to spread awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos.” Heather Von St. James
In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, we invite you to reach out and help spread the word about mesothelioma. What are some ways you can give a voice to these innocent victims while raising awareness about mesothelioma? See suggested answers below.
“I’ve learned in my last 8 years of this journey, that the people who are in it with you can make all the difference in the world.” Heather Von St. James
What are some ways to help raise awareness about mesothelioma? Every time most of us come across an important cause, our first reaction is to ask: How can we help? It is a natural inclination of a caring soul to offer help and so the Meso Foundation has made our inquiry an easy one by providing some ideas on how we can help below. If there are others you’d like to suggest, please add them as a comment below. Thank you!
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE AND RAISE AWARENESS
1. Work with other like minded souls to make Meso Awareness Day an official day in your city, state or country.Click here for instructions!
2. Gather your friends and family, and organize a fundraiser on or around September 26 to mark Meso Awareness Day and raise funds for Meso research. Let Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) know about your fundraiser so they can promote it on their website and through emails.
4. Become a Meso Foundation volunteer. This will give you opportunities to attend and participate in events organized by them. Upcoming community events are posted on their website. Click here to view the list.
5. Educate yourself by attending a conference. You can organize sponsorships to help defray the cost of the conference The Meso Foundation is holding two regional conferences in 2014. Learn more here.
5. A quick way to disseminate information is through local media. Contact your local media outlets to let them know about Meso Awareness Day and about mesothelioma. Invite them to cover your event and, if feasible, ask them to do a story on you/your family and/or another local family.
6. Use your social media connections and blog posts to further spread the word and don’t be shy about asking others for help with promoting your efforts.
7. On the morning of September 26, come to Rockefeller Plaza during the Today Show to help raise national awareness!RSVP here.
8. Become an advocate for your community and learn how to connect with your political leaders Click here to learn the basics of advocacy and meeting with your Representatives
What else would you recommend?
Positive Motivation Tip: Trust that every effort you make will bear fruit and touch other lives. Get involved.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos from Meso Foundation and Heather Von St James