Another guest blogger enjoy...
Patients who come to us often have no understanding of the cancer they have. Unlike more well known and common cancers, mesothelioma is not only a pain to try to pronounce, it’s a pain to learn about. Unless you’re up watching late night TV about needing a lawyer for a mesothelioma lawsuit, you’re not likely to understand the tumor that is sitting inside your lungs is caused by asbestos fibers you may have inhaled 30 to 50 years ago.
The symptoms start small. A cough here. A little bit of chest pain. Shortness of breath. When the cancer spreads, nerve function decreases and patients begin to cough and spit up blood. It’s quite a leap from cold-like symptoms to complete neurological collapse. The survival rate for mesothelioma is often not long because it’s so rarely caught in the first stages. Patients rarely connect their cough and discomfort with their asbestos exposure decades earlier.
What’s so frustrating about mesothelioma is that it’s almost entirely preventable. Our patients who come to us did not get exposed to natural asbestos fibers camping or walking in the woods. They were exposed on the job. About one-third of all mesothelioma diagnoses are veterans who worked primarily on ships laden with asbestos insulation in the Navy. The rest are construction workers, electricians, plumbers, blacksmiths, teachers, hairdressers, and the list goes on. We have women who we advocate for that developed mesothelioma from washing their husband’s asbestos-laden clothes.
As the Asbestos.com outreach coordinator, it is my job to help raise awareness about mesothelioma. While it’s hard to remember and a mouthful to say, we’re working on making it a household name. The more people know about the risks of asbestos to their health, the more they may understand that their cough is something to get looked at by a doctor. If we can change cancer treatment to focus on prevention, especially for something as avoidable as asbestos, then we have done our job.
About the guest blogger: Jennifer Bingaman is an Outreach and Awareness Coordinator at the Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. You can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on twitter @TheMesoCenter, or on Facebook (TheMesoCenter).