A story about a 23 year old UK woman battling malignant mesothelioma recently made international news. Danielle Smalley was diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma that comes from ingesting asbestos, the now-known carcinogen that leads to the disease. Though Ms. Smalley and her family are unsure where she could’ve eaten asbestos, it is believed that the disease typically takes 20 years to show symptoms, meaning she was just a toddler when the incident or incidents happened. She says they have ruled out her elementary school as a possibility, but that it could’ve happened at a friend’s house or anywhere else. Danielle is only one of 3 under 25 years old that has been diagnosed with the disease in the last decade. Danielle is scheduled to have tumors surgically removed, an operation that also involves receiving ‘hot chemo.’ Hot chemotherapy is the bathing of organs in chemotherapeutic medicine to kill cancerous tumors. Treatment will leave Danielle infertile at just 23 years old.
What is Malignant Mesothelioma?
According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma originates in the cells of the abdomen, chest, the area around the heart (rare), or the area surrounding the testicles (very rare). Organs and the aforementioned areas of the body are covered by cells that join together to form a lining referred to as mesothelium. Cells that turn cancerous in this lining are called mesothelioma (specifically malignant mesothelioma).