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Mocha’s Family’s Experience with Mesothelioma – The Silent Killer

Mocha, a counselor and volunteer coordinator at Camp Kesem Michigan, entered an essay on Mesothelioma into a contest to win a $5,000 scholarship to help pay for her education. She hopes to be able to further her education toward a public health degree and continue to spread awareness on the disease that took her Father from her. She wanted to share this essay with the Camp Kesem community, partly because she wants to spread awareness, but also so that everyone knows why she Kesems.

If you have time, please also take a moment to vote for Mocha’s essay by clicking this link that will take you straight to the voting page.


There is no such thing as safe exposure to asbestos. Airborne exposure to these microscopic, fibrous minerals leads to asbestos-related cancers, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, and results in death for an estimated 107,000 innocent individuals each year. The horrid truth is that all deaths and illnesses related to asbestos are entirely preventable, yet each day 30 Americans will die of an asbestos-related illness. The manufacturing, import and export, and use of asbestos in every day products continues, however, despite publication of scientific evidence that proves the life-terminating effects of the material.

The first uses of asbestos, which literally means “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable,” dates back to over 2,000 years ago on the ancient Greek island of Ewoia, believed to be home of the first asbestos mine. The “near-magical properties” of asbestos, from its tensile strength to its ability to resist fire, heat, and acid, resulted in popular use and the development of a thriving asbestos industry. Countries across the globe contributed to this industry for decades prior to the discovery of its detrimental health effects. Industrialized countries, including the United States, have used this inexpensive, naturally occurring, fibrous mineral for a wide array of products, including pipe and ceiling insulation, ship-building materials, brake shoes and pads, bricks, roofing, and flooring, and more.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution during the late 1800s, asbestos use in the U.S. began to flourish and gained significant popularity in a number of industries. Even with its historically documented biological effects, it began to be used as insulation for steam pipes, turbines, boilers, kilns, ovens, and other high-temperature products. As the centuries waned, asbestos use continued and found its way to the U.S. Navy. The silent killer was utilized to insulate virtually ever chamber in the navy vessels and thousands of the veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War were exposed to asbestos while aboard military aircraft and navy ships. Asbestos was also employed in the production of over 300 products necessary in the construction and preservation of navy vessels, such as valves, adhesives, cables and gaskets.