Mesotheli...what now?

This week I had the pleasure of taking a chalk painting class. Do you know about this stuff, yet? It’s supposed to be the wonder paint of paints, as it will go on just about anything, and it requires very little effort. 

I’ll be sure to give you more info on the paint and show you the end result of my paint project once it’s ready. (I’m working on a new window treatment for my kitchen.) 


But, before I get to the chalk talk, I want to go over a little unexpected souvenir I took home from the class. While there were masks provided, I wasn’t wise enough to snag one. We’re outside, I thought. What harm could there be? Weeellll... I spent much of the night coughing. And coughing. And coughing. And it hurt to take deep breaths for several days. I’m sure the fumes from the paint paired with the dust flying while sanding were more than my lungs were used to. And while I’m now on the mend, I tell you this for a reason.

I'm not afraid to sport a stylish mask on the airplane when I'm sick. I don't know why I didn't think to mask it up during my painting class. One mistake I won't make again. 

Always remember to protect your lungs. 

I know, this is a bit of a departure from my usually blogging mayhem, but it’s so important. I was recently approached by Heather Von St. James, a mesothelioma survivor. She got this deadly form of cancer secondhand, by breathing in asbestos on her father’s work jacket. Can you believe that? She now makes it part of her life’s work to spread the word about being cautious. I told her I’d be more than happy to assist her in raising awareness in my own small way.

What is Mesothelioma?

An aggressive cancer that invades the inner lining of the lungs and abdomen. It’s a rare cancer, with about 2,500-3,000 diagnosed a year. But just a single diagnoses is enough to be cause for concern. As I learned the very hard way when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, cancer doesn’t overlook anybody. Everybody is at risk, which makes universal awareness so very important. 

What are Signs of Mesothelioma?

Not necessarily what you’d think. Lower back pain or side chest pain is commonly reported. Shortness of breath, which is probably more typically what someone would think of when they think cancer of the lungs. Or at least that’s where my thought went. Difficulty swallowing or a persistent cough, fever, weight loss or fatigue—any of these can indicate a problem. Perhaps more invasive is muscle weakness, loss of sensory capability, coughing up blood, facial and arm swelling, and hoarseness. 

What can You Do?

Be aware of the symptoms, of course, but also be wise and steer clear of asbestos. While this nasty stuff is most commonly found in industrial work environments (ship yards, railroad infrastructure, power plants, etc.), those who don’t work in such environments aren’t free from risk. As Heather sadly experienced, it can come from secondhand exposure. Tragic but true.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that by painting without a mask this week I’m now at risk of mesothelioma. But my experience did make my hyper aware of how fragile our lungs really are. It was a cough-filled reminder that we can never be too careful when it comes to protecting ourselves.

More Information

I’m far from an expert when it comes to mesothelioma. But I do want to support Heather in her very worthwhile crusade to raise awareness. For more thorough and complete info, I invite you to visit

Here’s to breathing easy, my friends. Cheers!