She was given 15 months to live… just 3 months after having a baby
Last week Cameron St James sent me an email. In 2005, at the age of 36, only three months after giving birth to their beautiful daughter Lily Rose, his wife Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and given less than a year and half to live.
Faced with the thought of raising his daughter alone, Cameron fought alongside Heather in her battle against the disease and refused to compromise on her treatment or doctors. Thankfully Heather recovered to raise Lily Rose alongside him.
Cameron asked me if I would help raise awareness of the disease and its causes by sharing his family’s story. I didn’t hesitate. As a Mother and a member of a family touched by cancer, as so many families are, I’m happy to raise awareness of the myriad of causes for this horrible disease in all its forms.
Here, in this short film, is Heather’s story…
8 things you may not know about asbestos and Mesothelioma
1. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is invisible to the naked eye. Once inhaled, these fibers may infect the protective lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, or cardiac cavity.
2. No amount of exposure is safe. Just exposing yourself once could put you at risk for developing the disease later on in life. If you were exposed today, you may not be aware until 2043, as the average delay in symptoms is 30 – 40 years.
3. Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 US consumer products. These include household items, some of which may still be in use. Some of these even include hair dryers, crock pots, and cigarette filters.
4. It can be found in many older homes, schools, factories, and commercial buildings. Homes built prior to the 1970’s, along with a myriad of public buildings still could potentially contain asbestos because of the materials used in the original construction.
5. Asbestos exposure is still the LEADING CAUSE of occupational cancer in the US. Even after 30 years since the United States government issued stern warnings about the continued use of asbestos, many workers who were once exposed are now at risk of developing the disease.
6. United States Veterans are at the greatest risk. For many years, asbestos was used across all branches of the military. Many veterans and shipyard workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos from several different applications. US Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict unfortunately have the highest incidences of asbestos related disease, including mesothelioma.
7. Asbestos is still not banned in the US. Federal law requires the newly manufactured products contain no more than 1% asbestos. Although its use is regulated, roughly 30 million pounds are still being used each year.
8. Mesothelioma can be caused by secondary exposure. Family members of those who were directly affected by on-the-job asbestos exposure may also be at risk of developing mesothelioma, just like Heather was.
Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day in the US where Heather and her family live. But mesothelioma doesn’t care where you live or who you are. It affects people all over the World.