Becoming Aware of Mesothelioma

The first time I heard about mesothelioma was on a cheesy legal commercial with an intimidating voice saying, “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you maybe entitled to financial gain…” They didn’t explain what mesothelioma was, and honestly, I didn’t take the time to discover on my own. It wasn’t until I came across Cameron Von St. James and his wife, Heather, that I learned about this devastating and aggressive disease. 

Eight years ago, Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma; only three months after giving birth to her beautiful little girl. I gasped with disbelief after reading their story. As a mother, I understand how challenging having a newborn is on its own. But I couldn’t imagine what this family must have gone through after finding out about Heather’s diagnosis. To think that thousands of others will be battling the same fight for life is just plain unfair. Thankfully, Heather won her battle with mesothelioma, and regained her health. And now she’s made it her mission to bring awareness about this rare disease (only 3,000 people a year are diagnosed in the U.S.). 

After reading their story, I had questions about Mesothelioma, and wanted to share the answers:

1.) What is mesothelioma, exactly? 
2.) How do you get it? 
3.) How is it treated? 
4.) Is it preventable? 
5.) What’s a great resource for families who are looking for support? 

This photo makes me smile because of the confidence Heather
exhibits. I see hope when I see this picture.

Mesothelioma is a cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdominal cavity, called the mesothelium. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos (a microscopic fibrous mineral found in many products like floor tiles, shingles, insulation, ceiling materials, cement compounds, and automotive parts). The most typical treatments involve chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery (in Heather’s case, removal of her left lung). Because asbestos has been identified as the primary culprit, we know there are steps we can take  to limit exposure. The tricky thing is is that it can take 20 to 50 years from the time of exposure for symptoms to develop. So you could’ve been exposed as a child and not even know it. Sadly, there are still many homes, schools, and buildings with asbestos products. But just because asbestos is still around doesn’t mean we’re all doomed. As long as the asbestos isn’t in the air for you to inhale, you’re OK. But people opening up walls in old homes during renovations are at high risk… so for all you daring DIY-ers, it’s very important to take the appropriate precautions and educate yourself about asbestos! 

If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos at one point or another, there are tests you can take as a precaution.  There is a mesothelioma blood test, a pulmonary function test, and an X-Ray test as well. And if you or someone you know is diagnosed and would like further assistance and information, visit This comprehensive site is loaded with information about the risks, treatment, prevention, cancer centers, physicians, and legal assistance. 

As a new home owner, I must say this information is frightening. It’s going to lead to a conversation with Husband about what steps we need to take to make sure we aren’t exposing ourselves, and most importantly, our children. 

Support your fight against Mesothelioma on 
Mesothelioma Awareness Day, September 26th! 

Spread the word and share this information with your family and friends. Let’s keep asbestos and Mesothelioma out of our homes.