The 17th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Tomorrow, Sept. 26, marks the 17th annual National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. It was established in 2004 to raise awareness about mesothelioma and increase funding for mesothelioma research.
“It was started by a couple of members in our community,” says Maja Belamaric, director of communications and operations for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation). “These women lost their husbands and felt that there just wasn’t anything in the U.S. at the time acknowledging this disease that took so much from them.”
The Meso Foundation stood behind the vision these women had, and together they’ve garnered more attention for mesothelioma awareness and research with each passing year.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen or heart. It’s caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos and is typically diagnosed in patients who are over 70 years old. Often, those diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos decades earlier by occupation or secondhand exposure. Despite government regulations limiting the use of new asbestos and the implementation of workplace protections, asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, schools, government buildings and more. When asbestos is manipulated or exposed, its tiny particles become airborne and easily inhaled. Particles can also become trapped in clothing, which is then washed or handled by family members at home.
Each year, mesothelioma claims the lives of approximately 3,000 people, and there is currently no cure.
The Meso Foundation aims to provide those diagnosed with mesothelioma and their family and friends with vital information to better understand their diagnosis and seek the latest treatment options. The Meso Foundation also funds the highest quality and most promising mesothelioma research projects worldwide. Spreading hope and encouraging those diagnosed with mesothelioma to make the best decisions for their health is an integral component of Meso Foundation’s commitment to service.
“There’s a median 12-month survival rate,” explains Belamaric. “When [patients] speak to us, Mary Hesdorffer, NP is able to have a frank conversation with them, which involves understanding that while half of patients may not live past 12 months, the other half will.”
For Hesdorffer, the executive director of the Meso Foundation, and other team members, the focus shifts to getting as many mesothelioma patients beyond the 12-month survival period as possible.
Mesothelioma is one of the least-funded cancers at the federal level in terms of research, according to the Meso Foundation, which limits advances in treatment. The Meso Foundation has funded more than $10.5 million toward peer-reviewed research, and the foundation strives to increase funding. Belamaric notes that the Meso Foundation can’t raise the money alone, and that it requires support from everyone: “We need your help to advance research, and that requires funding, which requires alliances from people other than those just directly impacted.”
To show your support for National Mesothelioma Awareness Day, the Meso Foundation encourages you to take photos of yourself, your family and your friends wearing blue. Tag the foundation in your photos and use #curemeso to help raise awareness. You can also share the foundation’s social media posts, obtain a Mesothelioma Awareness Day proclamation from your state or locality or attend a third-party fundraiser benefiting the Meso Foundation in your area.
Belamaric encourages everyone to spend a little time researching mesothelioma. “It doesn’t have to be a super in-depth look, but our website has a lot of readily available information about mesothelioma,” she says. “It is not long to read, and I hope everybody can learn a little bit about it.”
There are a host of ways you can participate in Mesothelioma Awareness Day. For more ideas and information, please visit www.curemeso.org/awareness In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and as part of our commitment to fighting for a cure, Vogelzang Law will donate all proceeds from the third annual Mesothelioma Race for Justice 5K to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.