Each year, September 26 is recognized as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. It was first established in 2004 by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, with the goal of bringing awareness to the rare cancer and helping raise funds for research.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is so important because many people believe the common misconceptions around mesothelioma or have never heard of the disease. Much of the country is also under-informed about its cause, asbestos. The mineral is still not banned in the United States and heavy past use leaves the public vulnerable to dangerous exposure. Mesothelioma Awareness Day is a chance to show support for those impacted by mesothelioma, celebrate survivorship, educate others about the cancer and asbestos, as well as fundraise for much-needed research.
The Importance of Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is diagnosed in about 3,000 people each year. Caused by asbestos exposure, mesothelioma develops slowly over the course of ten years or more in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles. Because it can take decades for mesothelioma to develop and symptoms to show, diagnosis is challenging and the prognosis is often poor.
Quick Facts About Mesothelioma
- Mesothelioma most commonly develops in the lung linings (pleural mesothelioma)
- Symptoms can take 10 – 50 years to develop
- Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain
- The average life expectancy is 12 – 21 months
- Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and experimental therapies like immunotherapy
Though mesothelioma is rare, the use of asbestos in the United States was commonplace until the 1980s. The natural mineral was incorporated in thousands of products for decades to add durability and heat resistance. It can still be found in old buildings, homes and schools, as well as certain products like brake linings and insulation.
Agencies estimate millions of people are exposed each year, with many exposed on the job unknowingly. There are regulations in place to limit the use of asbestos, but it is not yet banned and many old applications of the mineral continue to put the public at risk.
Because asbestos isn’t banned and can still be found in thousands of buildings across the country, awareness of the mineral and mesothelioma is crucial in preventing more diagnoses. Asbestos can also cause other serious health risks, including lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques and more.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is an opportunity to recognize this rare cancer and its devastating impact, as well as shine a light on asbestos and why a ban is important. The day can also help raise needed funds to further research. Since mesothelioma is challenging to diagnose and patients often have limited treatment options, clinical trials are essential to improving survival and getting closer to finding a cure.
Help Raise Awareness
There are many ways to get involved on Mesothelioma Awareness Day and throughout the month of September. Different events are held across the country in an effort to bring attention to mesothelioma and fundraise. For those unable to travel to or participate in an event, there are other options to show support.
- Wear blue: Mesothelioma is recognized with the color blue. Wearing blue, as well as sharing pictures in mesothelioma blue, is an easy way to bring attention to the asbestos cancer.
- Share social media posts: Spreading the word about mesothelioma online is an easy way to help raise awareness. Whether talking about a personal experience, sharing posts from organizations or getting involved in tweet chats, talking about mesothelioma on social media platforms can bring the cancer to the forefront of a wide audience. Use hashtags like #mesothelioma and #curemeso to get involved in the conversation.
- Start a Facebook fundraiser for mesothelioma: For those who want to help fundraise but can’t attend a specific event, creating a Facebook fundraiser is an easy way to help bring awareness and support research efforts. Supporting mesothelioma research by fundraising for organizations like the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, American Cancer Society and the International Mesothelioma Program can go a long way in advancing treatments and diagnostic tests for patients.
- Get a Mesothelioma Awareness Day proclamation: Some local and state governments have proclamations in place to recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For those interested, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has a form available to fill out and make the process easy. Learn more here.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is a perfect opportunity to bring awareness to the disease and recognize those impacted by the rare cancer. But better awareness for both mesothelioma and asbestos goes beyond just this one day, and the public can participate in events and other opportunities throughout the year to show support.