About a year ago I moved to Colorado from Louisiana with my boyfriend and his daughter. With the move came house hunting, a pastime that I wasn’t accustomed to, as I had only rented apartments previously. But Stephen was ready to purchase a home, so I was all on board to help pick out the house. Much to my dismay, house hunting meant a lot more than “This one is pretty, I like this one.” We had to check for cracks in the foundation, which ways the water drained in the yards, how long the driveways were, how close we were to schools, and probably the most dangerous (yet often overlooked) aspect of finding a suitable home: asbestos.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos, and people diagnosed with the disease are given (on average) 10 months to live. The most disturbing fact of all though is that asbestos is not banned in the US, despite how dangerous it is. Asbestos is banned in 60 countries, however the US hasn’t followed suit yet. In fact, more than 700,000 schools in the US still contain asbestos insulation. That means our US children are potentially being exposed to this every day. What’s the most concerning about this is that Mesothelioma has a latency period of 25-50 years before symptoms develop, so even if your child is being exposed, you won’t know for a while.
Are you as shocked as I am to learn these facts? How can something so dangerous be allowed in schools and homes?
This past Saturday, September 26th, was Mesothelioma Awareness Day. It’s so important to spread the word of this debilitating disease and the dangerous effects of asbestos. Each year, 3,000 new people are diagnosed with the disease. And as I mentioned before, the average expected survival time frame for diagnosed patients is 10 months. I’m hoping education and awareness can start the conversation about mesothelioma cancer and asbestos.
But with all of these depressing facts, let me leave you with one positive fact: Heather Von St. James (pictured below) is a soon to be a ten-year survivor of mesothelioma, following ground-breaking surgery. This is a beautiful miracle, as Heather was given 15 months to live at the time of her diagnosis. Defying odds at age 36, Heather is still going strong and has devoted her life to spreading awareness of the dangers of asbestos and spreading hope to those who have been diagnosed.
Let’s join Heather in being a platform for hope and awareness so that when others are house hunting, or choosing schools for their children, they too can see the “asbestos siding present” in the fine print. No matter how pretty the house is, nothing is worth risking your health, or your children’s health.