Sunday, April 17, 2016

Asbestos Awareness Week and the story of Heather Von St. James

This year, April 1-7th is Global Asbestos Awareness Week. I missed the week to post this (obviously) through my own dang fault, (autoimmune and work overwhelm), but this is very important, so am posting late: better late than never absolutely applies here.

During this week and all year round, it is important to be aware of the fact that this toxic material is still not banned and in fact continues to affect many people. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used in thousands of commercial products, homes, industries, and so much more. Inhalation of the fiber can cause the dangerous but preventable cancer mesothelioma. One such example of the impact this material can have is the story of Heather Von St. James.

    Heather Von St. James was a new mom when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and was told she wouldn’t live to see her baby girl grow up. She learned that she was exposed to asbestos secondhand, after wearing her father’s work jacket as a young girl. He worked in construction and drywall, and carried the fibers on the very jacket she would sport around the house while doing chores or playing outside. Inhalation of these fibers were the reason that many years later, she was given such a bleak diagnosis and told she wouldn’t live past 15 months. After undergoing a risky surgery to remove her left lung, chemotherapy, and countless sessions of radiation, Heather was declared in remission and is one of very few 10 year survivors of this cancer. But the initial exposure and surgery would be something she felt the effects of for the rest of her life. 

    This is why Heather and The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance work so hard to spread awareness about Asbestos Awareness Day. Heather wants to see a ban on the harmful toxin that caused her cancer, as it is still used today and has not yet been made illegal. Her hope is to prove that with hope, the odds don’t matter. This year during AAW, be aware and safe. Awareness and action are the only two things that will one day cause there to be no more mesothelioma. 

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