asbestos-related lung cancer
I was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer, nearly 50-years after my husband exposed me to the deadly fibres.
He didn’t do it deliberately, of course. We simply didn’t know of the dangers in the 1960s.
Back then, my husband was an electrician. During a construction contract, his hair and clothes would get covered in asbestos all the time. It was only for four years, but that was all it took.
I had no idea when I washed his clothes that I was breathing in the hazardous fibres. I didn't know the health risks, and it just looked like talcum powder. For the next half a century, I had a ticking time bomb in me.
It was in late 2011 that I became bothered by a cough. ‘Didn’t worry straightaway. I thought it was a reaction to blood pressure tablets I was taking.
But after a routine chest x-ray, it became clear something was seriously wrong.
‘How did you manage to walk in here without breathing difficulties?’ the waiting medical consultant asked.
The chest examination showed my lungs were filled with fluid. I had lung cancer; mesothelioma. Wham – just like that.
Chemotherapy sessions followed, along with three operations to drain the fluid. I also had a tube inserted, so my lungs could be cleared on an ongoing basis.
Despite the mesothelioma, I remain active. Recently I visiting Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. It was a great family holiday. I wanted to do everything, but I wasn’t allowed on the climbing wall, just in case I damaged the tube, which poked out of my chest.
I’m lucky, chemo has supressed the mesothelioma and the tube was recently removed, as there’s been no further build-up of fluid. It might come back, but I enjoy life whilst I can. I don’t consider my lung disease an illness, it’s more an inconvenience.
You can’t give up on life by worrying about the future. You don’t know what’s around the corner anyway. Who would have thought some white dust from a building site, on my husband’s overalls, would half-a-century later attack my lungs so quickly and ferociously.
I’m told asbestos is harmless if left undisturbed. But beware if it crumbles, releasing millions of hazardous, invisible fibres into the air you breathe.