Bandwagons. We have all likely jumped on at least one in our lives. Can I see a show of hands of those of you who sported both poof-ball bangs and jelly shoes? That’s what I thought.
I have occasionally been taking part in Emily and Ashley’s “Remember the Time” Blog Hop. This week Emily tossed out the subject of remembering a time you jumped on a bandwagon. It is tempting to talk about the year I found myself on the cult train known at Milli Vanilli (hey, it was a BIG train. Even my 7th grade teacher had a poster of them in his classroom…that is until, you know, we all gathered up our Milli Vanilli paraphernalia to burn in an enormous bonfire aimed at cleansing us of the embarrassment of being had). But I am going to break the rules a bit and talk about a bandwagon that is much more important: cancer awareness. More specifically, mesothelioma awareness.
August is Mesothelioma Awareness Month, and a few weeks ago I received an email from a woman named Heather Von St. James asking if I would use my blog to help spread awareness. I said okay.
Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, and it is caused from exposure to asbestos. Many of us have probably seen the commercials which typically air during daytime television: “My Name is Doug, and I have mesothelioma.” I will admit that because of those commercials, my subconcious has lumped mesothelioma together with Traffic Law Center, Check Into Cash, and the side effects from Pradaxa. It just wasn’t something I thought much about, or worried much about. Mesothelioma is a cancer of construction workers and military personnel, neither of which I am.
And then I heard Heather’s story. Please take a minute to listen to her tell it in her own words:
That is hope and strength personified. That is survival.
And being a mother myself, it deeply struck me how hard she fought to be around for her child. There are parents all over the world fighting that same battle at this very moment, whether it be a battle against mesothelioma, another type of cancer, or something else altogether. Many will not have the outcome Heather did, and not because they didn’t fight as hard as she did, but because our doctors and researchers still don’t have everything they need to win every battle against these diseases. And THAT is why we need to be aware.
Heather’s story also made me realize something else I need to be aware of: the job of protecting my own children is much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. Heather wasn’t a construction worker. Her father was. And unbeknownst to him, the simple act of providing for his family affected his own daughter in a terrible way he never could have imagined. Every parent has unknowingly and unintentionally put his or her child in danger at some point; it is inescapable by the very fact that we are human. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t make ourselves more aware of what we are exposing our children to by way of the environment we provide for them, they food they eat, the things they play with…the cigarette we smoke in their presence, the sugar intake we don’t curb, the text we send while driving them to school.
And next time you hear about mesothelioma, let Heather be the face you see. Do what you can to help those battling this deadly disease, those people who could be anyone and everyone you know. Let Heather’s positive attitude and hopeful outlook inspire you in your own struggles. And from her story, take away awareness…that life is fragile and strong all at once, and we should all be doing something to make sure everyone gets the chance to live it. That’s a bandwagon with room for everyone.
For more information on mesothelioma, please visit www.mesothelioma.com