Boosting the Signal


Hi, everyone.  Awhile ago, a nice fellow by the name of Cameron Von St. James got in touch with me and asked if I’d be willing to “take a moment for meso” and write a blog about Mesothelioma Cancer.  Cam’s wife Heather is a rare survivor of this cancer, and they are working hard to spread awareness about this particular brand of nastiness. 

Mesothelioma is an incredibly aggressive, asbestos-related cancer which affects the membrane that lines the lungs and abdomen (the mesothelium).  Fully three-quarters of Meso cases are pleural (in the lungs), with the remainder occurring in the peritoneal (abdominal) and pericardial (heart) areas.  Meso is difficult to diagnose as it often presents symptoms that mimic other respiratory ailments, including chest pain, chronic cough, effusions of the chest and abdomen, and the presence of blood in the lung fluid.  At this time, there is no known cure, but surgery and chemotherapy have helped improve prognosis.

Tumors from this disease were recognized as early as the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that this cancer’s causal relationship with asbestos exposure was substantiated.   How it happens, is this: when microscopic fibers are inhaled or swallowed, the body has difficulty destroying or getting rid of them.  Over time, these fibers cause biological changes in the tissue that result in inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage.  Once that damage is done, the latency period (sometimes as long as decades) may begin.

While the majority of those afflicted with Mesothelioma are men who have been exposed to asbestos through their work, women and children may also be affected by secondary exposure to clothing tainted with asbestos. 

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has dedicated a significant amount of time in making their website, mesothelioma.com, the best resource for patients, families, and individuals wanting to learn more.  With their help — and yours — education and awareness of this disease can be raised more than ever.

Pass it on.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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