Compared to breast cancer, leukemia, colon cancer or lymphoma, mesothelioma is not a very well-known cancer. Since it is so rare, few people have heard of it, let alone known someone who has been diagnosed with it. Yet for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it doesn’t much matter how unusual a cancer it is—it’s still affecting them and their families with the same fear, anger, confusion and pain that accompany any kind of cancer diagnosis.
Nevertheless, mesothelioma research dollars are limited, in part because of the disease’s relatively low profile. This is particularly unfortunate because detecting mesothelioma early is absolutely critical to the effective treatment of this disease. Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, mesothelioma is a cancer which targets the membranes surrounding the lung and lining the chest cavity. One of its unfortunate hallmarks is that it can develop undetected within the body, since its symptoms are often mild and similar to those of other respiratory conditions. By the time the individual has experienced serious enough symptoms to warrant medical attention, the mesothelioma may have already progressed to an advanced stage—and have become virtually untreatable. The best chances for successfully treating mesothelioma come at the earliest stages, but most patients do not catch the cancer that quickly.
Research into new ways to detect and treat mesothelioma is ongoing, and you can help, by getting involved in a mesothelioma charity. Whether you volunteer or make financial contributions, your help will be greatly appreciated by those who are affected with this difficult disease, and by the people who love them.
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is a national organization which provides assistance for mesothelioma patients, an advocacy initiative, education for both patients and care providers, and a research and science branch. MARF has awarded almost $6 million in grant funding, and continues to support the search for more effective treatments as well as a cure.
The Cancer Fund of America is a non-profit organization which helps assist patients, hospice facilities and non-profit healthcare providers by sending them necessary items free of charge. These items may include such things as vitamins and nutritional supplements, adult diapers, exam gloves, lotions and ointments, food and gift boxes, clothing, and hygiene items.
The LUNGevity Foundation is a relative newcomer on the charity scene, but since 2000 when it was formed, the foundation has co-funded more than $5 million in lung cancer research projects. It was named the fastest growing United States charity in 2009 by Charity Navigator. Its mission is to save lives and ease the burden of lung cancer on both patients and families, through funding promising medical research and through creating a community of emotional support for those affected by lung cancer.
A nationwide collaborative of 20 Catholic health organizations, Supportive Care Coalition aids patients of terminal cancers like mesothelioma by providing help for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It is also an advocacy group which strives to address social and cultural policy changes that affect cancer victims.
The Gateway for Cancer Research, unlike many other charities, only funds research initiatives, and does not provide patient support, outreach or educational programs. It is a not-for-profit organization that aims to fund innovative and life-changing clinical studies in order to accelerate new treatment options.