Mesothelioma Awareness Day Seeks to Paint the Town Blue

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day is just around the corner — Saturday, Sept. 26. Organizers are asking everyone who supports greater awareness of mesothelioma to wear blue that day.

Blue shirts, blue pants, blue blazers, blue neckties, blue bandanas, blue socks, blue hats, blue facepaint or blue fingernail polish, you name it. If it’s blue and if you can put it on, you’re encouraged to do so.

The people seeking a cure for mesothelioma hope to make the wearing of blue on Mesothelioma Awareness Day as thoroughly associated with that annual event as the wearing of green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

Of course, the big difference is that St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the driving out of snakes. But, with Mesothelioma Awareness Day, there’s a sort of similar celebration involved.

It’s a celebration of the still-future day when the saints of the medical profession and research field succeed in driving out one of the most vicious cancers on the planet – mesothelioma. You get it from exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day organizers hope the celebration will arrive a lot sooner if everyone wears blue on Sept. 26.

The reason is that if America is covered in blue that day, more people will be motivated to go see a mesothelioma doctor. The idea is for them to have a mesothelioma checkup to make sure they don’t have it.

That checkup could mean the difference between a long survival with mesothelioma and a short one. That’s because the earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the sooner mesothelioma treatment can be started.

Mesothelioma Diagnosed Early Helps Survival

Catching the cancer in its earliest stages is critically important. Just ask longtime mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James, a journalist who is a Mesothelioma Awareness Day activist.

Von St. James learned at the age of 36 that she had pleural mesothelioma. The news was delivered to her just three months after she delivered a baby – her daughter. Von St. James eventually decided to undergo an extrapleural pneumonectomy.

That was 10 years ago. In 2013, she wrote an article for the Huffington Post about what Mesothelioma Awareness Day means to her.

“As a survivor of the disease, it makes me proud to be [a mesothelioma awareness activist], holding up a sign and using my voice to help others,” she wrote.

“There is something so empowering about exposing this disease that has taken far too many innocent lives. Above all, it reminds me that I’m doing my part to raise awareness….”

Von St. James hasn’t announced her specific plans for this year’s Mesothelioma Awareness Day. But it’s possible she may show up as part of the crowd outside the NBC Television studios in New York City for the “Today” show broadcast.

Organizers of Mesothelioma Awareness Day want as many supporters as possible to show up for the show and wear blue.

Volunteers plan to arrive at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza studio complex between 48th and 51st Streets in midtown Manhattan at 6:15 a.m.

The show airs at 7 a.m., so being onsite shortly after 6 a.m. will help ensure that the blue-clad people who are trying to raise awareness occupy spaces where the cameras are most likely to see them.

Mesothelioma Awareness Conference and Social Media Efforts

Even before the “Today” show begins, Mesothelioma Awareness Day leaders hope volunteers will chat up a storm about the cancer on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

To help you do just that, organizers are making available a special app that will make your Facebook and Twitter profile photos have a blue hue.

After the “Today” show, New York City Mesothelioma Awareness Day activists will meet with others from across the country. The location is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Ave., New York City.

There, starting at 9:30 a.m., they and top mesothelioma experts will participate in a day-long mesothelioma conference. The event is geared to everyone – doctors, patients and family members.

It costs $25 to attend (complimentary breakfast and lunch are included in the price). If you go, you’ll hear the very latest about mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation oncology and more.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day was established in 2004. It’s an annual event recognized by proclamations of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Since 2004, volunteers have used the day to raise nearly $1 million in funds for mesothelioma research. They might not match that total in a single day this year, but they plan to give it the old college try.