09/10/2014 02:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Killer Asbestos

When most people hear the word asbestos, they think of lead paint, yellow Formica counter tops, Happy Days lunch boxes, and children riding bikes without helmets. Asbestos is thought to be a thing that died years ago. Most folks live their lives without ever worrying about asbestos exposure and the horrible disease associated with it, mesothelioma. Those people would be shocked to learn that asbestos is still around and still a threat. Just ask Heather, a woman who continues to battle cancer because of it.

Back in the day, asbestos was used in A LOT of things. Your average person came into contact with it as building insulation. It was used in homes and businesses everywhere, and it was especially helpful for insulating skyscrapers. At one time, asbestos was even used in clothes. Like a lot of products, it was thought to be helpful and safe for years, hundreds of years. That all changed when the link between asbestos and cancer like mesothelioma was discovered. Asbestos use declined sharply after the late '70s, though it is still legal to have it in some products in small amounts.

Recently, I was reading The Huffington Post and I saw an article about asbestos being found in a dorm. You should definitely read the article, but just in case you are super busy, here is the Cliff Notes version. More than 3,000 students have been sleeping in rooms with asbestos at three universities in Wales. That means more than 3,000 people may have complications later in life. Unfortunately, you can be fine after asbestos exposure and then show symptoms of mesothelioma decades after exposure. That is going to keep me awake tonight.

Asbestos is not just in the U.K. It's still right here in the U.S. Last month, researchers found a large amount of microscopic, naturally-occurring asbestos in Nevada. They found this when the state was building a highway through the area. Asbestos is so deadly that they are rerouting the highway to avoid the area. So, it's not even safe to drive your car near asbestos and college students were living with it. How does this still happen? Is it not 2014?

All cancer sucks. If you have read this piece, you know that breast cancer skips merrily through my family. Mesothelioma is a super wicked cancer because it hits your lungs and abdomen, which of course makes breathing difficult. Breathing is kind of the most necessary thing living things do. You can't eat, drink, or do anything else if you can't breathe.

I just recently became aware of Mesothelioma because Heather, a friend I met online, has it. Things like this always become more real when you know a real person who battles the disease. I decided that I wanted to help raise awareness about the disease, and the dangers of asbestos. I'm not going to pour ice water on my head, or make any sort of silly video. I am going to donate to mesothelioma research, and I'm going to spread the word as much as possible. It would help if you did the same. Here is the link to Heather's fundraising page. She will also be participating in "Miles for Meso." Click here for more information on that.

Please feel free to share this blog everywhere. I had never heard about mesothelioma until last week. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Let's get the word out and end this disease.

Here is Heather, with her husband and daughter.


This blog was originally posted on Petty Thoughts.