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Miracle Material – A Deadly Diagnosis

Mesothelioma Essay Contes

By: Kennedy McAlpin

One of the most tragic, yet mystifying, occurrences on our planet is the disease of cancer. It comes in many shapes and forms and in most instances is unpreventable. However, for one particular type of cancer, prevention is very easy, making it one of the most frustrating. Mesothelioma happens to be the type of cancer that can be prevented by avoiding exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos has been flooding into our country for the last two centuries and continues to do so. It has made its way into our homes, businesses, pipelines, and more. When we first began using it, asbestos seemed like the miracle material- strong and inflammable. However, we have discovered since then that this miracle material is actually a silent killer. The hope for ridding our country of this disease can only come from awareness and education, informing everyone that asbestos is extremely harmful and potentially deadly for those who are exposed.

For those families who are dealing or have dealt with mesothelioma, finding closure and comfort is extremely important during times of loss. As a future Speech-Language Pathologist, my hope is to work with individuals dealing with cancer of all kinds in order to improve their quality of life through effective speech. As anyone who has dealt with cancer knows, the quality of life during the last days of someone’s fight is of the upmost importance to that individual and their family. For me to be able to help would be the most rewarding experience. However, completely ridding our country of this toxic material should be our top priority.

Raising awareness of the Dangers of Asbestos is the number one way we can prevent mesothelioma and increase early cancer detection. The use of websites and scholarships such as these greatly expand our population’s knowledge on the topic of asbestos and mesothelioma. People who have been exposed to asbestos need to realize that they are in great danger. Through portals that can vastly spread information, such as social media sites and news sources, individuals will be able to gain information that is vital for early detection and treatment. How can someone take action towards health problems if they do not realize they are in danger? If continued publications spread word of this deadly disease, one day, mesothelioma will be a killer of the past.

However, it is going to take the hard work of very dedicated individuals to bring this awareness to a rise. Our government officials need to be forced to take a hard look at the legislation of this country. As of now, asbestos continues to be imported into our country every day at an alarming rate. In fact, imports of asbestos increased by 25% in 2011 from the previous year. Americans are being lead astray, believing that our country is becoming safer from the dangers of asbestos. This is just not true. What makes this even more frustrating is that over 50 countries have already banned the importation and use of asbestos. America is simply disregarding the obvious fact that there are alternative materials to asbestos that are affordable and safe. It is my duty and the duty of other informed individuals to raise our voices against asbestos.

When originally deciding to become a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I was unaware of how vast the field exactly was. I assumed that most speech-language pathologists took on the role of working in elementary schools helping kids with their articulation. However, after being in the program for only a few short weeks, I have come to realize that our realm of work is extremely broad. I have specifically seen the impact of speech-language pathologists in my anatomy class. Realizing the broad range of people I have the opportunity to work with has opened my eyes and greatly increased my passion for the field of speech-language pathology. When working with geriatrics, SLP’s have the opportunity to help people who have endured strokes and other health conditions.

However, this can also extend to those who are dealing with cancers such as mesothelioma. One of the symptoms of mesothelioma is shortness of breath. When individuals experience shortness of breath this directly affects their ability to speak. Speech is powered by the lungs and when the lungs do not have enough power to provide the adequate amount of air supply for speaking, speech can become disfluent, choppy, and often times at a level that is too low to hear. Very quickly, communicating can become very frustrating for an individual with shortness of breath, chest pains, or chronic coughing. Fortunately, SLP’s are highly trained in giving therapy that can greatly improve an individual’s speech when experiencing these symptoms. The ability to effectively communicate is a daily life skill that we often take for granted. For someone who is potentially facing their last days with their family and loved ones, communication is something that should not be sacrificed. As an SLP, my hopes are to have the privilege to equip mesothelioma patients with the ability to speak both effectively and comfortably.

I am able to empathize with family members of mesothelioma patients as I have dealt with my own grandpa suffering from lung cancer. Thanks to his ability to speak during his last days on Earth, he was able to share with me stories from his time serving our country in the Navy. These are memories that I will always cherish. For those families who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma, there are no words that can express my deepest apologies. I cannot pretend to understand the frustration that comes from knowing that the disease that took your family member was one that could have been prevented. However, the best thing to do in order to honor your family member would be to channel this frustration into a passion for spreading the word about asbestos. In order to prevent asbestos from taking thousands of more lives each year, action must be taken right now. Our families are continuing to be exposed to this toxic material because of lack of awareness and industries refusing to use alternatives for asbestos.

Although cancer is very mystifying, mesothelioma is not. The cause is known and prevention has been found. This is one cancer that should be eradicated from our country. However, word must spread. In order for word to spread, we must raise our voices to our government officials. Legislation must be passed that completely bans asbestos from entering through our boarders. The fact that over 50 countries worldwide have already stopped importing asbestos and America continues to do so is appalling. But I refuse to stay silent. Through my awareness, others will become aware. Through my education, people suffering from this disease will be able to have a better quality of life during their last moments with family. Through the inspiration of families who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma, others will be revived. Not a single person more should lose their life to asbestos because now, we know.

References
Mayo Clinic. “Symptoms (of Mesothelioma).” 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 02 Oct. 2015. 
MesotheliomaHelp.org. “Causes of Mesothelioma.” 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 02 Oct. 2015
Povtak, Tim. “Asbestos Imports Have Started to Rise Again, Fueled by Manufacturers’ Demands.” The Mesothelioma Center. 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 02 Oct. 2015.
Seikel, J. Anthony., King, Douglas., & Drumright, David. Anatomy & Physiology for Speech Language, and Hearing {Fourth Edition}. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning; 2010.
The Mesothelioma Center. “Asbestos Exposure.” Web. 02 Oct. 2015.

About

Kennedy McAlpinKennedy McAlpin

I am currently a junior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at Western Kentucky University. I plan to complete my Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology. I hope that I will be able to improve the lives of people with cancer and improving their ability to breathe, swallow, and speak. I have a passion for people that goes well beyond helping them; I want to be the bright spot in their week.

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