In 2005, Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma only three months after giving birth to her daughter. Mesothelioma is an aggressive, rare cancer that attacks the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Approximately 3,000 people a year are diagnosed.
This type of cancer is only caused by exposure to asbestos and typically develops after a 10 - 50 year latency period following exposure. Heather's cancer was caused by secondary exposure to asbestos. When she was little, she wore her dad's work jacket, which was covered in asbestos fibres, to do outside chores.
Wikipedia states that asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral used in manufacturing and building because of its strength, resistance to fire and affordability. Around 2 million tons of asbestos are still mined per year as of 2009, mainly in Russia (50%), China, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Canada (9% to 14% each).
Asbestos is still not banned in the United States. Approximately, 30 million pounds are used each year and it can still be found in many homes, schools and commercial buildings. The newest risk is from home renovation. If you are planning on doing a home renovation and suspect asbestos is present, please contact a trained and licensed abatement company to help you.
Today, Heather is a 9-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and continues to share her story to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos. Let's help Heather by sharing her story with others. You can learn more about mesothelioma here and about Heather here.