Just after giving birth to her daughter, Lily Rose, 36-year-old Heather Von St. James knew something just wasn’t right. She ought to bounce back faster, she thought, but instead was plagued by exhaustion, night sweats, and constant fever. She felt pressure in her chest, and her breathing was labored. Concerned, she visited her doctor. They were stunned by a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. What should have been a time of pure joy at the birth of her first child became a nightmare of worry and fear.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma (a.k.a Asbestos Cancer) is a highly aggressive and rare form of cancer usually of the lining of the lung (pleural). Mesothelioma can also occur in the lining of the heart (pericardial) and abdominal cavity (peritoneal). The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. About 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed in the United State each year.
Traditionally seen in older men, usually with a background of working in a factory, shipyard, mine or other environment with heavy asbestos exposure, today more and more cases of secondary exposure are being diagnosed. The average age for someone with mesothelioma used to be around 72, but each year it seems mesothelioma affects younger people. Last year, a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with mesothelioma, stunning the physicians who were treating her.
What are the dangers associated with Mesothelioma?
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven.
Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems.
In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a noncancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.
The onset of mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos can take anywhere from 15 – 45 years. The first symptom is usually a constant pain in the chest and is accompanied by shortness of breath, pain or swelling in the abdomen. Other symptoms include persistent coughing, coughing blood, fatigue and significant weight loss.
A person’s life span is typically 12 – 24 months after diagnosis of mesothelioma, but it depends on the size of the cancer, where it is, how far it has spread, how it responds to treatment, the health of the patient, etc.
The real tragedy of mesothelioma is that it is a disease that is easily preventable. But for years, manufacturers hid the dangers of asbestos exposure. Corporate documents from as early as the 1930s note the deadly nature of asbestos, but these findings were never shared with the public, and no measures were taken to protect people exposed to asbestos. Even today, asbestos is not completely banned in the United States, even though research has proven there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
What can I do if I have been injured as the result of Mesothelioma?
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury as the result of Mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!