Monday, September 26th marks the 12th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Established by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) in 2004, the day aims to not only draw attention to a little-known cancer, it also raises money to fund important clinical research, and shares the stories of thousands of families who have been devastated by this rare and deadly disease.
Over the last 12 years, MARF has certainly succeeded in bringing increased awareness to mesothelioma. In 2010, they received proclamations from both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, claiming September 26th to be officially Mesothelioma Awareness Day. The organization has also raised close to $1 Million — all of which has gone to fund important cancer research institutions across the U.S. Perhaps most importantly, they’ve also acted as a voice for thousands of victims and their families.
So, what’s going on this year? Mesothelioma will garner national attention on NBC’s The Today Show. MARF representative, Jill Zajac, will be standing in the Rockefeller Plaza, alongside dozens of volunteers, all of whom will be sporting blue “Cure Meso” T-shirts and holding and waving “Cure Meso” signs. Like last year, the group will aim for a nationally televised interview.
Why Is Mesothelioma Awareness So Important?
Each year, around 3,200 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States alone. Mesothelioma is unique in that it is only known to have a single cause: asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was used for many years by manufacturers in assorted industrial products because of its natural, fire-resistant properties.
Being exposed to asbestos, however, is incredibly dangerous. When asbestos fibers are disturbed and released into the air, they can be inhaled into the lungs. These microscopic fibers can lodge themselves in a person’s mesothelium — the thin layer that protects and lubricates the lungs. Over the course of 20-50 years, these tiny fibers can cause cancer, a cancer that can spread throughout the entire mesothelium and beyond. The unfortunate prognosis is this: mesothelioma is almost always fatal. And the worst part? The disease was entirely preventable.
Corporations to Blame
Though the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the dangers of asbestos, they continued to use the mineral anyway — ignoring any and all health and safety concerns for not only their workers, but the American public as well. They put us all in jeopardy. And now, thousands of Americans are paying the price — and more and more each year.
Given all of this, it’s often the case that mesothelioma is the direct result of the negligence of some of America’s largest corporations. This, of course, is completely unacceptable. Mesothelioma Awareness Day not only aims to bring attention to this often overlooked disease, it also points to a large and important question: Is this what happens when corporate greed allows companies to value profits over human lives?
How Can You Show Your Support?
There are many ways that people can get involved on Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to show your support is to revisit your own wardrobe. The day’s founders ask that you show your support for their cause by wearing the color blue. Blue has been associated with the awareness day since its inception. Blue Mesothelioma Awareness T-shirts and Awareness bracelets are also available for purchase on MARF’s official website. All sale proceeds will go directly to the collective mesothelioma research effort.
Events to fundraise and show your support are occurring regularly throughout the nation. MARF updates its list of events regularly; check it out to see if an event is taking place near you, and attend! If you are in New York City, you can of course head to Rockefeller Square and stand with dozens of others at The Today Show.
By choosing to help draw attention to this rare and deadly disease, you can also spread the word by using the #curemeso hashtag on all of your social media accounts.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is an important opportunity for those who have been silenced for so long. By showing our support, mesothelioma research gets more attention and takes one step forward toward eradicating this deadly disease.