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  • Growing Up with Asbestos… could come back to haunt me one day

    July 2020

    I have learnt a whole new word… ‘mesothelioma’ and come face to face with this devastating terminal cancer.

    I woke up to the sound of Dad’s voice telling me there was an asbestos removalist replacing our chook pen’s asbestos walls. Intrigued by the handling process of the removal, I made my way down the driveway to the chook yard to watch from afar. It got me thinking… my whole life I have been surrounded by these potentially deadly fibres and it was not until I started an internship with Reflections last year that I fully learnt the dangers of asbestos and the fatal effects it can have. Growing up, all I knew was to stay away and that it was bad, but I never realised it was THIS bad!

    We all probably could have taken it a whole lot more seriously.

    On the farm, everything was built back in the days when asbestos was known as this awesome material that was so great it was even used in toothpaste and as fake snow in Hollywood films like The Wizard of Oz. Our chook hut, the old house, the fence surrounding my brother’s place, the shearer’s quarters and carports are all built with products that contain asbestos. It is scary to think that because of this I may well have asbestos fibres in my lungs that could come back to haunt me one day. In fact, my whole family could.

    Since Reflections, I have learnt a whole new word, ‘mesothelioma’ and come face to face with this devastating terminal disease. Having met sufferers and their families through the support group along with recently losing a very close family friend to mesothelioma, I now realise how serious awareness about asbestos is.

    The tragedy of losing a loved one to something that could have been so easily been avoided leaves you with a lot of pain and anger.

    I have shared my newfound knowledge of asbestos and its risk with my family and friends who, like me, had very little understanding of its ongoing dangers before. The majority of those who I have spoken to had never even heard of mesothelioma. It is horrifying to think that one person dies every twelve hours from ‘meso’ in Australia, yet so many do not know what it is and, upsettingly, there is very minimal awareness in the community.

    As a young adult, I sometimes catch myself thinking I am invincible and nothing will affect me, but when it comes to asbestos, I have come to realise that this mindset will not save me. There needs to be an understanding of the risks and harm associated with asbestos. It would be nice to think that one day soon our world could be a place without mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases tearing away precious lives.

    Years of collecting the eggs, walking through the carport with broken sheeting and lack of knowledge may end up being an unavoidable and terrible death sentence.

    I encourage you to donate to the work Reflections is doing to reduce the impact of asbestos or contact us to find out more about how you can be involved.

    Tiffany Gossage
    Reflections Marketing & Communications Intern