Thursday’s Mesothelioma Awareness Day is about awakening the consciousness of the world to the most insidious disease of our time and assembling the resources to eventually eliminate it completely.
With persistence, it can be done.
It can be accomplished by raising awareness to the cause, by giving visibility to the disease and by donating money to provide doctors with tools for discovering better treatment options, improving therapies, and working toward finding a cure.
Mesothelioma is a cancer diagnosed in an estimated 3,000 Americans annually, and its only known cause is exposure to asbestos. Another generation will likely pass before asbestos completely disappears from our everyday lives, but raising awareness of it does not have to wait.
Providing physical and emotional support for those suffering from the disease is important, and so are the myriad events, walks, runs, bike rides, poker games, bake sales, throughout the country this fall that help show support on a local level.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day, recognized by a 2004 U.S. Congressional proclamation, will garner national attention Thursday morning with a group from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) appearing on the “Today” show.
Hospital Donations Help Fund Research
Anyone can help by donating to one or more of a variety of organizations involved in research. Significant advances in treatment and diagnosis of the cancer were made during the past 10 years, but those gains have been slow and the research costly.
The following research centers have provided research and broken new ground in the treatment of the cancer:
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston: This is the home to the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) and renowned surgeon David Sugarbaker, M.D., a pioneer in mesothelioma treatment. The nearby Boston VA Healthcare system attracts veterans from across the country.
- Fox Chase Cancer Center and Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia: Both centers are loaded with multidisciplinary experts in the disease. The Abramson Cancer Center is a leader in gene therapy, the future of treatment.
- Mount Sinai Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York: Thoracic surgeon Raja Flores, M.D., at Mount Sinai has become one of the leaders in treatment the cancer. MSKCC has been lauded for it collaboration between surgeons like Valerie Rusch, M.D., and thoracic oncologists like Lee Krug, M.D., both mesothelioma specialists.
- UPMC Cancer Center in Pittsburgh: The Mesothelioma Specialty Care Center has attracted attention for its research excellence and the leadership role in the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank, where tissue samples are available for scientists around the country.
- Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa: Although Moffitt has been working with patients for many years, it unveiled the new Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center in 2012 to develop improved collaboration with its multidisciplinary approach.
- M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Orlando and other cities: It is part of the University of Texas Health Care System and has been lauded for years for its research commitment to both lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles: On the staff is renowned surgeon Robert Cameron, M.D. who was instrumental in the creation of the Pacific Meso Center, a research and treatment center designed specifically for mesothelioma patients.
- University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu: Center Director Michele Carbone, M.D. has drawn considerable acclaim for his world-wide approach to the study of, and therapies for, the cancer.
- University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Arizona Cancer Center: Farid Gharagozloo, M.D., in Arizona broke new ground through robotics in cancer surgery; Hedy Kindler, M.D., is the well-respected director of the Mesothelioma Program at UC.
- The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute in Los Angeles: The Angeles Clinic, which carved a reputation for developing personalized cancer therapies, now has ventured into its first mesothelioma-specific clinical trial, hoping to break new ground.
Donations to Independent Groups
Independent organizations like MARF, the most nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated entirely to mesothelioma research, and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) in California are working toward the same goal through different avenues.
All of these organizations are involved in helping patients and providing support however they can. Most have charitable arms that help patients who need financial support.
Raising awareness can be as simple as wearing a wristband as Rebecca Iverson and the entire party wore at her wedding in New Orleans, honoring her mother who died not long before from the cancer.