A strange thing happened to me during my cancer treatment: I had the strong desire to help people, to give back, to inspire. I wanted to be an advocate.
Heather Von St. James
Courageous Mother, Wife and Survivor of Mesothelioma
Posts about "Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation"
When one hears the word “mesothelioma,” everyone immediately thinks of the commercials on TV: “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure… “ and then they think everyone who gets this cancer is automatically wealthy because of a lawsuit. Well, I’m here to set that record straight.
That’s what I asked myself as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the cancer center. I had just finished my last radiation treatment, and for the first time in almost a year, I had no more chemotherapy or radiation treatments to go to. I was done. And I was lost.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day, established by Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation volunteers in 2004, has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to mesothelioma.
Every year following Lung Leavin’ Day, I write a recap of the evening. This year I wanted to do something a little different. I know the event has a huge effect on people, and in the last couple of years people have shared their feelings about the night with me. I thought I would ask a few friends about their thoughts on the tradition and share them with you.
As a society, we put a huge emphasis on our children’s “firsts”: baby’s first tooth, baby’s first steps. The first birthday, the first day of school. Oh my, how I remember that day with Lily! So many of her firsts were milestones simply for the fact that I was not supposed to be alive to see them. I treasured each of those firsts, and marked the occasions with pictures and videos. I even still have her first tooth somewhere.
September happens to be one of my favorite times of the year-- not only because the weather is usually picture perfect and the leaves start turning, but every year my mom and I go to New York City for Mesothelioma Awareness Day. This was our 3rd trip and each year we love it more and more. It’s becoming a tradition for my mom and I to arrive a day early, enjoy a nice dinner and get ready for the bright and early wake up time of 4:00 am to get to the plaza of the Today Show by 5:30. We get there so early to secure a good place around the barriers to be seen by the hosts. NYC at 5 in the morning is amazing, it’s actually quiet with the occasional roar of a truck engine in the distance. By the time we are allowed onto the plaza for the taping of the show, there is a line down the block of people wanting to get noticed. All of us who were there for Mesothelioma Awareness Day were dressed in our bright yellow “Cure Meso” t-shirts and grouped together so we would be noticed when the hosts of the show came around. Strength in numbers!
Community—a sense of community and renewed hope. That is what the overwhelming feeling was at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation's (MARF) annual symposium on malignant mesothelioma. The symposium took place from Wednesday July 11th to Friday July 13th in Washington DC—no where else can you have, all in one room, world-renowned doctors, other medical staff, lawyers, patients, their loved ones and caregivers, as well as those who have lost members of their family to the disease. Everyone came together for a single cause, to help find a cure for mesothelioma. What a very powerful testament to what the MARF is about.