Meso-what?! Mesothelioma, or more precisely, malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, and is the most deadly among all asbestos-related diseases.
Symptoms or signs of mesothelioma may not appear until 20-30 years (or more) after exposure to asbestos. Such is the case of Heather von St. James, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in November 2005 - barely three months after giving birth to her child.
When Heather was a little girl, her father worked in a construction company, where asbestos fibers are commonly used. Her dad would come home from work with his coat covered in white dust, and little did the family know that exposure to his clothes would put Heather's life at risk.
Heather was given just 15 months to live, but with proper treatment, support from her husband and family, and with her daughter as her inspiration, she was fortunate enough to make it through the ordeal. It's been eight years since Heather survived the big C, and she has made it a mission to spread awareness and help mesothelioma victims around the globe.
|Heather, with her husband Cameron and daughter Lily.|
|September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.|
- Asbestos was once used in common household items such as toasters and hairdryers, and over 3,000 consumer products.