Community Observes Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2016

Paper doll people in blue

For one day of the year, people around the world gather to celebrate the lives of mesothelioma survivors, caregivers and those taken from us much too soon. For just one day, we reflect on the inspiring medical advancements researchers and physicians are making to change the lives of patients everywhere. Today is that day.

Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

Every year, an estimated 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with an aggressive, asbestos-related cancer. Anyone diagnosed with the disease must face the unknown and fight one of the toughest battles. To each of you living with this disease: You are amazing. You are strong. You are a survivor.

Caregivers and Researchers at the Forefront

When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, a loved one often steps up to take on the new role of caregiver. As a caregiver, you must balance caring for someone else while maintaining your own health. There are no words to thank you for the sacrifice and opportunity you have taken. You are inspiring. You are self-less. You are hope.

Day after day, mesothelioma researchers and advocates are pushing the boundaries of science and politics to improve the lives of survivors and caregivers around the world. Whether you are running clinical trials, sharing the latest information with patients or campaigning on Capitol Hill, your contributions are making the world a better place. You are the future. Thank you.

What Do You Wish People Understood About Mesothelioma?

Each year, we ask trailblazers throughout the mesothelioma community to share their thoughts about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos. It is with their insight that we can come together as a community of health advocates to one day find a cure and end mesothelioma once and for all.

Given the rarity of mesothelioma, there is a lot of confusion as to what it is and where it comes from outside of the mesothelioma community. Because the condition doesn’t generate the same amount of publicity that more common cancers do, many people recently diagnosed are caught off guard with little information. Our job, as advocates, is to increase this education and improve awareness about this difficult cancer.

This year, we asked several amazing people in the mesothelioma community one question: What do you wish people understood about mesothelioma? Here are their answers.

Richard Delisle, pleural mesothelioma survivor

I think people sometimes can be too cavalier about mesothelioma and don’t take into consideration that it can take years for significant signs to show up. On the other hand, they don’t need to panic because they were in a place with asbestos and to understand that it is the dust particles that you breathe in, not being just present where it is that causes mesothelioma. Give serious thought to where you were exposed to asbestos and under what conditions.

Missy Edmunds, medical outreach director at The Mesothelioma Center

I wish mesothelioma patients understood that there is hope out there for them. So often, a patient is told there are no treatment options available by a doctor who does not specialize in this rare cancer. Medical advancements in this field have grown greatly. Please go to a mesothelioma specialty center that uses the multidisciplinary approach, and let that team of specialists dictate what your options may be. If surgery, chemotherapy and radiation do not work, do not be afraid to join a clinical trial. Every miracle drug that leads to a cure had to start somewhere.

Lorraine Kember, mesothelioma caregiver and widow

I wish people understood that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Anyone, including themselves, who has been exposed to this deadly mineral, has the potential of being diagnosed with mesothelioma (or another asbestos-related cancer) at some time in the future. The “it won’t happen to me” attitude has led to complacency here in Australia where DIY renovation of older homes is very popular. Men and women are putting their health and the health of others at risk by attempting to remove asbestos from these buildings themselves rather than employing a qualified asbestos removal company to do it safely.

Richard Morgan, director of the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics

Although mesothelioma is difficult to treat, and currently has a very poor prognosis, our understanding of this cancer continues to grow, and this knowledge will lead eventually to more effective and safer treatments. This will only have been made possible through the altruism of past and current patients who have participated in clinical trials and agreed to their tissue being used in research. My colleagues and I are very grateful for their support.

Cara Tompot, social media specialist and childhood cancer survivor

For many people, the only time they’ve heard of mesothelioma is from daytime TV commercials and the occasional radio advertisement, but there is so much more to asbestos cancer than that. An estimated 3,000 people a year are told they have an aggressive cancer. They must worry whether they’ll experience another birthday. That fear can be crippling. I wish people understood that mesothelioma is not a joke and that these survivors are beating the odds.

Russell Jones, founder of

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer associated almost entirely with asbestos exposure, which was likely to have been many decades previous.

We would really like people to know the dangers of asbestos, and the part it plays as a catalyst in the development of mesothelioma. Many cases of the condition can be avoided with awareness and correct use of protective equipment. It is our duty, as caring human beings, to help others avoid the pain and suffering that our loved ones have been through.

Melanie Ball, mesothelioma advocate

I wish people understood the facts about asbestos. I think the lengthy latency period of mesothelioma (20-50 years) misleads people into thinking asbestos-containing products can be safe. Exposure to asbestos is never safe. It is my wish that we all remain diligent in our work to correct these misconceptions. There is too much at stake to remain silent.

Cara joined The Mesothelioma Center as Social Media Specialist in July 2015 to continue her mission of making a difference in world. Every day, Cara speaks with survivors, caregivers and their loved ones in the online mesothelioma community to answer questions and offer emotional support. If you have a story idea for Cara or you'’d like to learn more about social media, please email her at

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