Mesothelioma Awareness Day, a day to be used to increase public knowledge and understanding of this rare and aggressive cancer, has been adopted throughout the country. Berkeley Heights, New Jersey is just the latest area to join in the cause to promote awareness and public support for those battling the disease.
Bonnie Anderson, a resident of Berkeley Heights, was on hand at the Township Council meeting where the resolution to name September 26th as Mesothelioma Awareness Day was approved. “I’ve survived seven years and six months with mesothelioma,” said Bonnie Anderson. “My kids, husband and I and my family are working with the senators and congressmen to get funding for research.” An awareness day only helps to increase public reception of causes that need more attention.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day was started in 2003, first adopted by the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Several states legislatures have also adopted the measure, including Illinois, Kentucky, New York, and Pennsylvania. Other cities are following suit. Austin, Texas; Santa Barbara, California; and Seattle, Washington, already recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and the Berkeley Heights Township is just the most recent to join the campaign.
Mesothelioma is a cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. It develops when microscopic asbestos fibers are breathed in and become lodged in the mesothelium, the protective membrane that lines the body’s major organs. Malignant cells develop, ushering in new lung ailments and replacing healthy cells. Mesothelioma has a long latency period, which means symptoms of the disease often takes years or even decades to appear, leading to delayed diagnosis. Scientists have not yet found a cure for the disease.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day was begun by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to “research, support, education, and advocacy.”