While many citizens enjoyed an extra day off and huge retail sales on Labor Day, it’s important to remember the real reason we observe this day. Labor Day was created to celebrate the hard work put forth by American citizens and to recognize their economic and social contributions to our country. Labor Day is also an appropriate time to recognize the dangers that many American citizens face in their respective industries. While there are many ways that workers can be injured or killed on the job, the number 1 cause of occupational-related cancer continues to be exposure to asbestos, even 30 years after the peak of its use. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma cancer after a long latency period of 20-50 years and for some industries, asbestos exposure was a regular part of the job.
As a young girl growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Heather Von St. James loved wearing her Daddy’s work coat, the type that she could wrap her whole body inside. It was one of those large construction jackets and was often covered with white flecks of dust. There was something about wearing it that made her feel closer to him, as if he was enveloping her instead of four pounds of nylon. Whenever she had chores outside––whether to feed her rabbits or fetch the mail––she would slip it on and head out to brave the bitter northern cold.
Among the many challenges of managing mesothelioma are the difficulties in diagnosing and then following the disease for progression or response to treatments administered. One of the potential tools to help in this regard is an assay of soluble mesothelin related peptides, now a commercially available test called Mesomark. Mesothelin is a glycoprotein (a protein with sugar molecules attached to it) that is expressed on normal mesothelial cells but also over-expressed in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) as well as potentially in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. Soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs) are believed to be either peptide fragments of mesothelin (peptides being pieces of larger proteins) or variant versions of mesothelin that don’t remain bound to the cell surface. These SMRPs can then end up in serum or pleural fluid.
Often times, when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, knowing what you can do to help and be supportive is not easy. A mesothelioma diagnosis, in particular, can be sudden and life-changing. Whether it’s finding the right thing to say, or figuring out what you can offer, you’ll want to be ready to help your loved one as best you can. We’ve put together some of the best things you can do for someone with mesothelioma that go beyond simply gift giving to offer genuine care and support.
“ALEC” is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it may be the most powerful organization you (probably) never heard of. There’s a good chance ALEC already has impacted your life. And if it hasn’t yet, give it time.
My daughter Lily just celebrated her 8th birthday this month. Eight years old! At times I find it hard to believe she is already 8. Other times it seems like she should be older because she is so wise for her age. Of course we had a HUGE birthday party to celebrate, because I like to make a big deal about birthdays. I have since her first birthday, quite simply because I didn’t know if would be around to see her turn 1, let alone 8!
In a heroic attempt to right an administrative wrong, two Navy veterans' organizations are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary Eric Shinseki over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Specifically, the suit alleges that the medical benefits that the VA offers does not cover treatments for conditions stemming from exposure to the lethal weapon.
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Andrea Hastie for becoming our August Advocate of the Month. Below, Andrea shares the heartbreaking story of losing her father Roy Hastie to malignant pleural mesothelioma recently. As Roy said to his family, being affected by mesothelioma was "like waiting for a ticking time bomb."
When a cancer diagnosis strikes, a difficult and damaging time begins in the patient’s life. Cancer is never convenient and can uproot families and future plans quickly. Cancer is the enemy and is often associated with a multitude of negative emotions. The process of fighting cancer, from the time of diagnosis through treatment and recovery, can be long and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Mesothelioma treatment, for example, may require chemotherapy as well as surgery. The disease becomes part of the patient and, if the journey is long enough, it isn’t healthy to harbor hateful, negative feelings toward this new part of his or her life.
Once considered a “miracle mineral”, the properties of asbestos that made it so desirable for use in construction and products are the same properties that turned it into a curse for many families. Asbestos exposure is the known cause of mesothelioma and other rare and deadly asbestos-related diseases. Despite being considered a rare cancer, the places where asbestos exposure can happen are surprisingly common and still exist.
In part one of the Caregiver’s Resource Guide, we discussed the effect that caregiving might have on the caregiver. In this part, the MCA will cover the caregiver as a patient advocate, how to stay organized, and the benefits of caregiving on both the patient and the caregiver.
Everyday, thousands of people become caregivers to loved ones diagnosed with cancer. Caregiving can be difficult and uncomfortable, but is a necessary and crucial role taken on by strong individuals. The weight of caregiving can become especially difficult when dealing with a patient with mesothelioma, a cancer that has physical and financial side effects on top of immense legal implications. The MCA has put together a two-part guide to caregiving for one of the most serious and complicated cancers. This part of the guide will cover the often overlooked topic of the impact of caregiving on the caregiver’s life.
The thing about cancer that no one tells you is that you are thrust into a world not only of endless doctor appointments, countless labs, CT scans, being poked literally hundreds of times until you're bruised up and down your arms, but also into a world of some of the most amazing, resilient and inspiring people you will ever know. There is also the really, really hard part very few people talk about-- the fact that a lot of those amazing people don't make it. I’ve had to say good-bye to more people in the last 7 years than I ever imagined.
In another video from the Managing Mesothelioma Q&A series, I discuss a common question I receive about what a patient can expect post-surgery from their lungs and their ability to breath independently. For treating mesothelioma, leading surgeries used are pleurectomy and extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removes the lining of the affected lung or the entire lung, respectively. While each patient tolerates a surgery differently, there are a few tests that doctors can perform to give a patient a clearer picture of what to expect.
Mesothelioma is caused by one thing: exposure to asbestos. It’s been determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and even trace amounts can develop into mesothelioma or another type of asbestos-related disease. It all starts with exposure. We’ve broken down the very basics of asbestos exposure in order to make what is a mystery cancer to some a little more clear.
For most patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hair loss, nausea, and exhaustion are common and expected side effects. However, both of these treatments can cause serious and uncomfortable skin conditions. Radiation can cause an irritation that looks and feels like a sunburn on any area of the skin the beam passes through to get to cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can cause extreme dry skin and lips as it indiscriminately damages all fast-growing cells, including healthy skin cells. For women, especially, dealing with the physical reactions of cancer treatment is an uphill battle to find inner confidence as well as strength to fight their disease.
On March 20, 2013, the FACT ACT (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency H.R. 982) was introduced in the House of Representatives for consideration. The FACT ACT is part of a national campaign being led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Chamber of Commerce to pass certain federal and state legislation as it relates to asbestos lawsuits filed by victims of asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma.
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Andreas Heydeck for sharing his story as the Advocate of the Month for July. Andreas' father Peter was a victim of malignant pleural mesothelioma, but his legacy lives on through his family. Below is Andreas story about how his father's mesothelioma affected him.
The Fourth of July is a celebration. We celebrate the beginning of our nation, the work of our Founding Fathers and our freedom. Although the soldiers of the Revolutionary War have long since passed, on this Independence Day we hope to both celebrate as well as honor all of the brave men and women who have risked their lives to maintain our freedom throughout history.
Under a directive from the Department of Veterans Affairs [VA], the Institute of Medicine [IOM] will convene a panel to determine what conditions constitute “Gulf War Illness.” Some Gulf War Veterans are concerned that the panel will be dismissive over some medical conditions while “lumping” other conditions together.