My name is Daniella and I am an engineering student at NYU.
I came across the James Rhio O’connor scholarship (http://www.cancermonthly.com/scholarship.asp) and decided to learn more about the Mesothelioma cancer. This blog is used to share my knowledge and thoughts with others in hopes of helping to increase awareness, which can ultimately help to prevent others from ever having to face this terrible disease.
Mesothelioma is caused from (any) exposure to asbestos, a microscopic and naturally-occurring mineral that can cause cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen lining. It can take years before mesothelioma develops in people who had been exposed to asbestos in the past, and it can be diagnosed through a combination of biopsy and imaging scans. However it is tricky to diagnose mesothelioma since its the symptoms (including chest pain, chronic cough, and the presence of blood in lung fluid) resemble other respiratory conditions such as Tuberculosis and Asthma. Unfortunately Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed when the cancer is already at an advanced stage, and the sad truth is that this cancer has no cure. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are available for Mesothelioma patients to assist in managing symptoms of their disease. Mesothelioma patients typically live up to five years with the disease, but rare cases have shown that by enhancing the immune systems some patients can survive with the disease for ten years and longer!
I believe that two issues need to be addressed to achieve progress in preventing Mesothelioma and to achieve progress in prolonging the survival rate of living with the cancer:
- Awareness and the Fight Against asbestos. In fighting asbestos - awareness is key!
On a personal level - the more people know about the risks involved in getting exposed to asbestos the more actions they will take to protect themselves against exposure.
On a larger scale - as we increase the number of people that are aware of the risks, and as we increase the knowledge that those people have regarding asbestos and how exposure to asbestos can be prevented, the higher the odds are that a social demand for the health-care system to take preventative action against asbestos would form. Therefore pressuring the health care system, and even the government itself to take preventive action against asbestos by clearing locations that are at risk of being made of or of containing asbestos and need to get cleared and inspected. Health care funds should be allocated towards cleaning locations that contain (or are at risk of containing) asbestos because preventing any exposure to asbestos will utimately save a lot of money to the individuals as well as the health system itself. This is money that otherwise would go into diagnosing the disease, as well as towards treating and managing the symptoms of the disease. Not to mention that preventing even one person from ever being exposed to asbestos means saving a life!
*Use this link to learn more about asbestos, including where it can be found and in which building products it is commonly contained: http://www.ehso.com/cssasbestos/asbestosfoundwhere.htm
2. Early diagnosis. Early diagnosis tests could mean a stronger immune system and could be used to help prevent others from ever getting exposed!
A test (or a combinations of tests) that can reveal if a person had ever been exposed to asbestos (up to 30 years back) could mean a Mesothelioma-diagnosis at an early stage (even before it becomes active). This test should be affordable to for everyone (subsidized by the different health insurances), but should also cost enough so that some of the money that will be paid towards this test could be allocated towards the fight against asbestos (as seen above). i.e. a person that will go to check if they had ever been exposed to asbestos will do two things by taking this check-up:
- Such a person would know whether or not they are at risk of getting any of the terrible diseases that are associated with exposure to asbestos in the first place. This will give them a heads-up and an early chance to improve their immune system and therefore a chance to perhaps fights the disease from ever becoming active.
- Such a person would help to fund the fight against asbestos. Therefore helping to prevent others from ever getting exposed to asbestos in the first place.
For more information about this terrible disease please see: www.survivingmesothelioma.com
Please feel free to share your thoughts about this disease as well as your thoughts about my own thoughts and suggestions on this blog.