Written by Virgil Anderson
Become Part of the Solution
Blue is the colour of hope that brings a broader awareness to a rare cancer called mesothelioma. Each year in the USA, September 26th marks a nationally designated date on which blue is worn proudly by the masses, to bring increased awareness and focus on this lesser talked-about disease. With Mesothelioma Awareness Day recently having taken place, and Health Education Week approaching ever so quickly in mid-October, the role that public awareness brings to raising the necessary funding for continued critical research cannot be over-emphasised.
This cancer affects many lives; friends and family members of those affected may feel the disease is far too large a problem for them to help make any tangible progress towards the ultimate goal of a 100% cure rate. They may feel like a very small fish in the largest of ponds. However, one can always find a way to help increase awareness of mesothelioma, both individually and collectively, wearing the colour blue being just one of many. Events to raise awareness can provide great opportunities for meeting others in similar situations and forming support groups in specific local areas that are lacking these services.
The History Behind Mesothelioma Awareness Day
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) launched Mesothelioma Awareness Day on September 26th, 2004. It was created with the goal of obtaining the funds desperately needed to continue the hunt for a cure. The Meso Foundation is non-profit organisation and serves communities by providing education, research, and patient advocacy. The success of local, state, and national events, fundraisers, and general awareness of the disease has been remarkable, but there is a continued need for growth.
The Human Toll of Mesothelioma
Although the number of those diagnosed may seem relatively small, around 3,000 people each year, every individual patient has a story, a life, and a family that is at risk of being brought to heartache if the battle is lost, because nearly half of all patients die within a year of diagnosis. Most have developed the disease through exposure to asbestos. More alarming is the fact that it was in an environment in which they were completely unaware of the risks, meaning that mesothelioma is, in fact, one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Mesothelioma can affect the lining of the abdomen and heart.1 Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of asbestos-related cancer, forming in the lining of the lungs. This type makes up approximately 75% of all diagnosed cases of the disease.1
Progress Made Using Mesothelioma Awareness Day
The consistent push by the Meso Foundation to keep Awareness Day at the forefront each year has brought about a declaration by the United States Senate and House of Representatives to make September 26th a true, nationally focussed drive. Events like official fundraisers, runs, walks, and other local and national celebrations have helped to raise millions of dollars to put towards research of the disease, treatment, and provide hope for an eventual cure.
How to Get Involved
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer for which there is hope of an eventual cure. Getting as many people involved as possible will help this cure to soon become a reality. Below are a few ways to get involved:
Wear blue, the nationally recognised colour of strength, unity, and hope for all whose lives have been affected by this dreaded disease. Whether it is a t-shirt, dress, suitcoat, or baseball cap, wearing blue shows your support for the cause.
Make a Donation
Help increase the funding needed for research, education, and treatment of mesothelioma. Make a tax-deductible donation for the cause.
Attend an Event
Find an event in your local area or state that is being held to raise money for mesothelioma treatment and research. There will be many fellow supporters in attendance.
Participate in a Run or Walk
Gather sponsors and take part in a run or walk for this important cause. There is great exercise to be had and the feeling of truly being involved. For example, check out the 3rdAnnual Veterans Mesothelioma 5k Charity Run here: https://mesothelioma.net/veterans-mesothelioma-5k-charity-run/.
Hold a Picnic or Barbecue
Obtain a local permit and stage a picnic or barbecue as a fundraiser. A minimal charge per plate will bring in enough profit to offer a sizable donation on behalf of the local area.
Write Letters and Make Calls
Let local and state government know that mesothelioma research, education, and treatment is important. Add a verbal or written vote to help encourage more people in positions of power to get involved.
Be a Voice
Talk about the importance of mesothelioma to anyone who will listen. Many people are still unaware that mesothelioma exists.
Successfully Involving Social Media
Billions of people access a variety of social networking platforms, many on a daily basis. The ability to ‘spread the word’ has never been easier. The added ability for nonprofit organisations to take donations through these platforms provides everyone with the ability to promote these worthy causes with ease. Dr Gloria Horsely, founder of Open Hope Foundation states: “we believe 2017 may deliver increased donations if we leverage all this technology and offer it so the ease of use stimulates the willingness to give more money more often.”2
When Jumping on Social Media Platforms
- Post about the importance of mesothelioma to all friends and family
- Change your profile image to one of you wearing blue shirt or hat
- Share any informational articles and links that show up in feeds
- Add a donation page link to make giving money easy
Help spread the word. Make this a banner year of spreading information and increasing funding to fight this deadly disease. This is set to be the biggest launch of Health Education Week to date. Come and be a part of it!
- Mesothelioma.net. Mesothelioma. 2017. https://mesothelioma.net/mesothelioma/. Last accessed 5th October 2017.
- Forbes, Gloria Horsley. Three Major Nonprofit Trends for 2017. 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2016/12/13/three-major-nonprofit-trends-for-2017/#7ea4c2abc246 . Last accessed 5th October 2017.