For the 13th year running, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have declared tomorrow National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Established by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), this awareness campaign is an important opportunity to learn about – and fight – this deadly form of cancer.
The Meso Foundation’s goal, as the only nonprofit charity organization dedicated to ending mesothelioma, is to educate the public about this deadly disease, support survivors and their families, and fund research. Through its annual awareness day, the Foundation has succeeded in boosting these efforts. Nearly $1 Million of the $9.8 Million raised to fund national clinical research came from Mesothelioma Awareness Day contributions, and the movement gives a voice to survivors and advocates all over the world.
After over a decade of success, what does the Meso Foundation hope to accomplish this year? Quite simply, to plow ahead. The battle against mesothelioma, still a largely misunderstood disease, is far from over.
Why Awareness Is Our Only Hope of Prevention
The Meso Foundation isn’t the only organization advocating for research. Others, including Miles for Meso and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), invest funding into possible treatment and further research for a cure. These organizations make amazing advances, but no cure other than prevention has yet to be found.
Mesothelioma has already killed tens of thousands of Americans and threatens to kill around 3,200 more every year. The cancer is relatively rare, meaning scientists and the public alike misunderstand or underestimate the disease, yet the cause is of huge concern. Mesothelioma develops from exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that can be inhaled or ingested when airborne. From there, these fibers lodge into the lining of major organs, forming malignant tumors that only become symptomatic after 20-50 years.
By the time symptoms appear, a cure is not possible. Mesothelioma has then already progressed too far, making death the only prognosis.
Asbestos was widespread through the 20th century for use in construction and other industrial fields. Companies knew its dangers but sought to hide them, considering the mineral’s useful properties and cost-effectiveness more important than industrial workers’ lives. Even now, asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. Initiatives such as Mesothelioma Awareness Day are our best chance to draw attention to this little-known fact and how many people continue to die from asbestos-related disease.
Can I Get Involved?
Yes. For an awareness campaign to generate enough support there needs to be a united front. As many people as possible should participate and help spread the word.
Fortunately, there are several ways to do this. Your contribution tomorrow can be as simple as wearing the color blue with family and friends and sharing photos on social media. Social media can help channel your commitment to the cause and can also help spark conversation. ADAO, for example, is hosting an #ENDMeso Twitter Chat that anyone is free to join, providing the opportunity for survivors to share their stories and others to learn about mesothelioma.
For more ideas, visit the Meso Foundation’s website. Here, “Cure Meso” t-shirts are available for purchase and free informational resources are available to download and share with social media communities. MARF will participate in a free event tomorrow evening on the set of the Today show on Rockefeller Plaza in New York, and all are welcome to join.
Mesothelioma is a preventable risk, but there is much more work to be done. This is what makes your participation in this cause so important. Until asbestos is finally removed from our country for good, only awareness can bring an end to the needless suffering.