KNOW YOUR RISKS: Be aware of asbestos and mold growth in your home.
Mes·o·the·li·o·ma—can’t pronounce it—can’t cure it. I want to share a bit about the personal side of my journey – not for sympathy, but so you can better understand the facts about mesothelioma. In 2003, after enduring nine months of symptoms and multiple visits to doctors, my husband, Alan, was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Alan underwent an Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) — a surgical procedure that removed a rib, left lung, and pericardium and replaced his diaphragm — in hopes of having more time with his family. But, because of his asbestos exposure, our then-10-year-old daughter had to watch her father slowly die from a preventable disease. Sadly, our experience is a common one, and the fear, despair, and isolation was paralyzing.
The truth behind asbestos
After Alan’s diagnosis, we learned that asbestos causes deadly diseases, and not just mesothelioma. We learned the silent truth: that, when inhaled, these sharp, invisible, odorless, tasteless asbestos fibers can cause permanent damage. Even more shocking is the fact that this has been well known and documented for more than 100 years. Fueled by grief, anger, and bewilderment, I knew I needed to turn my anger into action, which is why I cofounded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) with Doug Larkin. Technological advances have enabled us to build international alliances over 20,000 strong and continue our educational, advocacy, and community support initiatives, including hosting our annual Asbestos Awareness Conferences, testifying at Congressional hearings, and keynote speaking at numerous engagements.
Who is at risk?
Though the profile of victims of asbestos-related disease was once a blue-collar worker, in the United States alone, 30 Americans – men, women and children – die every day from asbestos-caused diseases. Tragically, it is also becoming more and more common to find women in their 50s being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
One life lost to asbestos disease is tragic; hundreds of thousands of lives is un conscionable. Prevention remains the only cure.