September 26 was National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. This year, more media outlets reported on mesothelioma that day, which Congress formally recognized in 2010, than in years past.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has observed Mesothelioma Awareness Day since 2004. The Meso Foundation is a nonprofit organization that leads the effort to find a cure for the disease and has attracted national attention through its work with NBC’s Today Show.
NBC’s Today Show Continued Its Coverage of Mesothelioma Awareness Day
The Today Show continued its annual feature for Mesothelioma Awareness Day this year. As he does every September 26, Al Roker spoke with the Meso Foundation volunteers gathered outside NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters in New York City around weather segments. This year, Roker gave the Meso Foundation Board Member Erica Iacono a few seconds on-air to speak about the asbestos-caused disease.
- In 2013, two Meso Foundation volunteers were selected for “ambush makeovers” by “Fourth Hour” co-anchors Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Both volunteers wore Meso Foundation t-shirts emblazoned with www.curemeso.org. Earlier in the show, Roker spoke with Board member Rich Mosca.
- In 2011, guests Jennifer Garner and Molly Shannon met with Meso Foundation volunteers outside the studio.
The Meso Foundation’s Executive Director Barnstormed Television and Radio
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, provided expert testimony to nearly 20 television and radio stations from around the country on September 26. “People are really not aware that it can be a treatable disease,” she told KWNB/KHGI in Nebraska. Thanks to patients who volunteer for clinical trials, “today there are more options than we’ve ever had before.”
Hesdorffer, who also serves as the Meso Foundation’s medical liaison, invited listeners to call her. “I can guide you about all the different clinical trials taking place around the country,” she said, and refer patients to medical practitioners with expertise in treating mesothelioma patients. Patients were also invited to visit the organization’s website at curemeso.org.
Local News and Social Media Dominated Coverage
Local news outlets and social media covered Mesothelioma Awareness Day more than national media (except for The Today Show). Here’s a brief list of outlets that took note of the day:
- “There is clinical research happening in the field now and ‘we gotta’ keep hoping those studies show positive results” New York Daily News
- “Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Sept. 26, is recognized by both New Jersey and U.S. legislative resolutions.”NJ.com
- “Spread awareness, avoid asbestos, fight the use of asbestos, and save lives.” Hungryandfit.com.
- “Jordan Zevon, son of music legend Warren Zevon, will hold a National Mesothelioma Awareness Day concert at Omaha’s Slowdown.” Omaha.com
In addition to Hesdorffer, two other personalities stood out: Jordan Zevon and Heather Von St. James. Zevon, whose father died from peritoneal mesothelioma in 2003 at age 56, serves as the national spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Von St. James is a long-term mesothelioma survivor diagnosed in 2005, shortly after her daughter was born. The following year, she underwent surgery to have her left lung, left side of her diaphragm, and heart lining removed. The New York Daily News, which reports women are the fastest-growing group of mesothelioma patients, says Von St. James is happy and doing well.