As National Asbestos Awareness Week comes to a close we are left with a few points to reflect on. Groups shared their knowledge, and patients and survivors shared their hopes and dreams, as experts weighed in on the possibilities in the future, and to remind us that asbestos containing products are still in use today. Although mesothelioma is considered a rare disease, it is deadly. The world needs to be reminded that there is no ban on asbestos in the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, issued a statement reminding the nation of the dangers of asbestos. The use of this naturally occurring mineral was so widespread that it was used in the construction of many homes. According to the World Health Organization there are 125 million people that have been exposed to asbestos. Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the Surgeon General, strongly urged that if an individual has concerns about being exposed to asbestos that they reach out to a health care professional. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases.
A conference was held in the Washington D.C. area by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (“ADAO”). There were many speakers and many powerful messages. A couple of important points were: ”Everyone has a voice“ and “We are one”. A survivor of pleural mesothelioma, Heather Von St. James, spoke about sharing your story and that everyone has one. Although you may think that no one wants to hear your story, you might be surprised about the impact you can make on others dealing with mesothelioma. Sometimes it may just help you to speak and say out loud what has happened to you and your family. Ms. St. James encouraged all to call their representatives and spread the word about banning asbestos. Doing this simple thing could possibly make a difference and raise the level of awareness about this important issue to our elected officials.
The other aspect of the conference that caught my attention was their slogan: “We are one”. This slogan captures the necessity of all working together towards a cure. Professionals, healthcare workers, patients and caregivers all share the common goal of improving the quality of life for patients and families as they fight this disease.
Dr. Raphael Bueno, the Director of the International Mesothelioma Program at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston MA, spoke about mesothelioma during a conference call. He suggested that we need to collaborate with our researchers, doctors and patients to fight this disease. He believes there are drugs out there that will be proven successful in combating this disease. The more information we share the more powerful we can become against mesothelioma.
As we mark the end of the National Asbestos Awareness Week 2016, we encourage everyone to remain active to raise our voices collectively to ban asbestos, and to support the victims of asbestos diseases across the country and the world.
– Ellie Ericson