Note: this is not a compensated post – I’m sharing it because I think it’s important information.
I’m a big fan of DIY projects; in fact, we made quite a few updates to our old 1970’s home. If you’re working on older homes, however, it’s incredibly important to be aware of potential hazards, like lead paint or asbestos.
When Cameron St. James emailed me asking if I’d help with Mesothelioma awareness on my blog, I was moved by his wife Heather’s story of survival and wanted to do my part to spread the word. Here are a few facts you ought to know, and a guest post from Cameron below.
Heather Von St. James, a 9-year survivor of mesothelioma has made it her mission to spread awareness of the disease. When she was 9 years old, Heather experienced second-hand exposure to asbestos fibers on her dad’s work jacket. Once she was diagnosed, she was given 15 months to live. After beating the odds, herself and her husband Cameron hope to spread awareness of the disease.
Every year, about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Symptoms generally don’t appear until 30-60 years after expose to asbestos, most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are given only 10 months to live.
Asbestos is found in common building materials that are used as insulation and adhesives. Asbestos was once used in the construction of many schools, homes, commercial buildings and naval ships especially during the industrial revolution. If these building materials are damaged or broken down, the deadly fibers become airborne and it is possible to inhale them.
Once the asbestos fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in the lung or heart tissue and cause inflammation and cancerous cell growth. About 40 percent of mesothelioma patients survive their first year after diagnosis, and only 10 percent of people living with mesothelioma survive 5 years after diagnosis.
The most susceptible groups of people to first-hand asbestos exposure are those who work in construction, around shipyards or aboard navy vessels. Second-hand exposure is also possible if clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them are brought home and touched or washed by a family member. No amount of asbestos exposure is safe, but it is still not banned in the US and exists in the buildings that we live in every day.
The best way to keep your family safe from asbestos and mesothelioma is to have asbestos inspection and abatement carried out by trained professionals.