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THE M4A BOOK, A GUIDE FOR HELP, INFORMATION, AND RESOURCES IS NOW AVAILABLE IN HARD COPY AND WILL BE POSTED TO OUR WEBSITE SOON. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED TO RECEIVE OUR BOOKLETS TO DISTRIBUTE ACROSS YOUR COMMUNITY, PLEASE CONTACT ROBYN JAMES, M4A AT RJAMES@M4A.ORG OR (205) 670-5770.
Mesothelioma: What Seniors Need to Know
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused typically by a long-ago occupational exposure to asbestos, presenting some unique and difficult challenges for patients and their families.

Unlike more common cancers of the lung, breast and prostate, mesothelioma remains a mystery to most in the medical profession, including many oncologists who rarely treat it or see it. Finding an experienced specialist is critical to survival.

Alabama Has Been Hit Hard
An estimated 3,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. Approximately 500 people in Alabama have died from mesothelioma since 1999 and almost twice as many have died from all asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma is rare and deadly. There is no definitive cure. It most often strikes in the retirement years, long after the asbestos exposure occurred.

The typical mesothelioma patient will live only 9-12 months after diagnosis, yet there are mesothelioma survivors today living three to 10 years beyond their prognosis after undergoing aggressive, multidisciplinary treatment.

“There are new therapies available today that can help a patient at every stage," said mesothelioma specialist Dr. Abraham Lebenthal, thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "But you need someone with experience, a center that handles a lot of these cases, to help guide you through."

Diagnosis Is Slow and Difficult
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because of its unfamiliarity to most doctors. There also is an exceptionally long latency period of 20-50 years after first exposure to asbestos before the cancer is often diagnosed.

During exposure to asbestos, the microscopic fibers can be inadvertently inhaled or ingested and become lodged in the thin membrane around the lungs or abdomen. Over time, they cause inflammation and scarring, which slowly can lead to the development of mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestos.

Unfortunately, mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed until the later stages when treatment becomes more difficult.  Early symptoms, such as a persistent and dry hacking cough, chest soreness and shortness of breath, also mirror those of less serious illnesses and often go untreated.

If you experience those symptoms and you worked with asbestos products, tell your doctor and ask for a chest X-ray to start the diagnostic process. The cancer is much more treatable at its earliest stages when a multidisciplinary regimen can be employed.

Early Detection Is Key
If detected early enough, a curative approach can be taken that will include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, giving a patient the best chance of survival. Although asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was never mined in Alabama, asbestos products were prevalent. It was used in shipyards, power plants, cement plants, factories and other industrial facilities all using asbestos products. It was everywhere on job sites.

It was used in residential and commercial construction before 1980.  Older structures that were damaged by storms, such as Hurricane Katrina, released asbestos fibers that may have been unknowingly inhaled.

If you suspect an asbestos disease, have questions or are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can call the Pleural Mesothelioma Center. Patient Advocates can find you a specialist and a treatment center that knows how to handle it.
Tim Povtak is a content writer for the Pleural Mesothelioma Center, an informational source for mesothelioma patients and families.
FOR THIS NEWSLETTER EDITION, M4A WOULD LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT THE COLUMBIANA SENIOR CENTER IN SHELBY COUNTY. 

The local senior center takes great pride in offering a variety of classes, activities, and opportunities designed for adults aged 50 and over which support independence and encourage involvement in the community. The participants are actively involved in their community and have forged great friendships together at the center. For example, the members of the "Sewing Club" meet each Wednesday all day and start from scratch to sew the most beautiful quilts which they sell at a reasonable price to the public. Many of the sewing club members are now highly-skilled seamstresses since joining the club and attending the weekly sewing club activities.

Columbiana also has a very active and dedicated "card game club" who meet during the week to play all kinds of different card games. This group is so much fun and there is always a lot of laughter in the room when they are playing against each other. Regular senior center activities include:

Mondays: Bible Study and other activities
Wednesdays: 1st Wednesday of each month - Coffee with the Mayor, 3rd Wednesday of each month - program by Harrison Library
Thursdays - Playing Cards

Everyday - Lunch at 11:30am

Bingo twice a month
Cards: Phase 10, Rook, SkipBo, Uno
Dominoes: Regular and Chicken Scratch
Wii -  Bowling, Tennis and other games

To learn more about the senior center and activities offered, please visit the City of Columbiana's website at cityofcolumbiana.com or contact Ali Conn Payne, Senior Center Director at (205) 669-4899
   Our mailing address is:


                                             P.O. Drawer 618
                                           
                                      Saginaw, Alabama 35137

                                            
                                     Our physical address is:

                                   
                                         209 Cloverdale Circle
                                     
                                     Alabaster, Alabama  35007
                                           
                                                
                       
                                                                
                      Contact M4A at: (866) 570-2998 or (205) 670-5770






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Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging · 209 Cloverdale Circle · Alabaster, AL 35007 · USA

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