Lung health is an increasingly important topic in public health. Smoking rates may have decreased over the last several decades, but lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer in the United States. Tobacco products are recognized as the primary cause of lung cancer, but there are several other toxins that can have a drastic impact on lung health. Asbestos is one such toxin that many people inaccurately believe is banned in the United States and are unaware that this material can still be found in homes across America.

A quiet killer

Asbestos exposure can lead to many life-threatening conditions, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Each disease significantly impacts the lives of patients and loved-ones, and mesothelioma in particular has a grim prognosis. The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is about one year.

One of the reasons that asbestos is so harmful is simply because of a lack of public knowledge.

Mavis Nye is a patient from the United Kingdom that defied those odds. After years of chemotherapy and a successful clinical trial for immunotherapy, she has now been in remission for over a year. Before her diagnosis, Nye says that she had never heard of this cancer and couldn’t even pronounce it properly. In 2009 Mavis was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which was the result of secondary exposure to asbestos while her husband worked as a shipwright. It was 40 years before Nye began experiencing any symptoms and her life was turned upside down overnight. Fortunately, Nye was able to participate in a clinical trial and responded well to immunotherapy treatment, which is currently being explored as an innovative treatment for a variety of cancers.

The future of mesothelioma treatment

Now Nye sees her purpose as giving back to the mesothelioma community and just last year established the Mavis Nye Foundation. Nye notes that the foundation has several goals, including providing financial grants for travel expenses for newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients, supporting students working to become mesothelioma doctors, and grants for research and development of new mesothelioma therapies.

One of the reasons that asbestos is so harmful is simply because of a lack of public knowledge. Although today the connection between asbestos and cancer is clear, many people are unfamiliar with asbestos or they consider it to no longer be a major health concern. This is why the work done by advocacy and research groups like the Mavis Nye Foundation, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and others is so valuable. Advocacy and greater awareness will lead to fewer cases of lung diseases and a healthier future for the American people.