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I got mesothelioma 50 years later

Mary was exposed to asbestos on her husband's clothes half a century ago. Now, she has mesothelioma. 

Mary Campbell

Mary when she was younger

In the 1960s, my husband was an electrician, and I'd wash his clothes for him. During one contract in particular, his clothes and hair would get covered in asbestos all the time.

Back then we simply didn't know the dangers. 

The dangers of asbestos

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. 

They say that asbestos is harmless if left undisturbed. But if it crumbles, it releases dangerous invisible fibres into the air. My husband only worked with asbestos for four years, but that was all it took. 

For the next half a century, I had a ticking time bomb in me. 

Getting diagnosed with mesothelioma

In 2011, I got a bad cough, but I didn't worry. I thought it was a reaction to my blood pressure tablets. 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 doctor asked me. 

The chest examination showed my lungs were filled with fluid. The doctor told me I had lung cancer, mesothelioma.

Wham - just like that.

You can’t give up on life by worrying about the future. 

Getting treatment for mesothelioma

Chemotherapy sessions followed, and 3 operations to drain the fluid. They put a tube in my lungs so the fluid could be cleared regularly. 

Who would have thought some white dust from a building site on my husband’s clothes would attack my lungs so ferociously, 50 years on. 

Mary Campbell with a lion

Even though I have mesothelioma, I remain active. I recently had a great family holiday in Longleat Forest and had a great time. I wanted to do everything, but I wasn’t allowed on the climbing wall in case I damaged the tube, which pokes out of my chest. 

Life with mesothelioma

I don't see my lung disease as an illness anymore. It's more of an inconvenience. 

I'm very lucky. Chemotherapy has suppressed the mesothelioma. I also recently had the tube removed, and the fluid hasn't built back up.

It might, but until then, I enjoy life while I can. You can’t give up on life by worrying about the future. 



How like my story of how I washed Rays clothes so may of us have been contaminated like this Secondary exposure causes so much pain and heartache

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27 June 2016