WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Exposure to asbestos for long periods can cause a number of medical problems, including cancer.
- After the initial exposure, it takes 10 years for non-cancerous illnesses to develop and 20-50 years for cancer—that’s why it’s called an old man’s disease.
- Mesothelioma is a form of asbestos cancer that usually affects men as they are directly exposed at work but women can be victims of “secondary exposure”.
Vivienne Swain was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, in August 2015. After two years and ten months, Swain passed away last month.
Initially, she was told that she had asthma, but breathing difficulties led to a chest x-ray that showed a collapsed lung. Her doctor told her that she was sick with terminal cancer and was given up to 3 years to live. Vivienne’s husband also succumbed to cancer years earlier.
Her partner Ian Johnson said, “It’s opened my eyes-I didn’t even know what mesothelioma was before.”
He went on to say that Vivienne would have been happy that her story will help raise awareness about mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a mineral made up of tiny fibers used as thermal insulation and protection against fire. It has been used in a wide range of household, commercial, and industrial products throughout the years. When these fibers are inhaled or ingested, they become trapped in the respiratory or digestive tract which slowly causes inflammation and DNA damage, leading to cancer and other non-cancerous diseases.
Mesothelioma is a form of asbestos cancer that statistically affects men more often than women because men were often employed at job sites where they were in direct contact with asbestos products. Women who were diagnosed with mesothelioma did not have direct exposure, rather, they were victims of “secondary exposure”.
Just like Vivienne Swain, whose husband worked in construction in Rochdale and was directly exposed to asbestos products. Unknowingly, he brought home asbestos fibers on his clothes. Vivienne who had been washing her husband’s working overalls for so many years had been slowly inhaling the fibers off his clothes.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, mesothelioma has claimed 2,595 lives in Britain in 2016, higher than the previous year’s statistics. Experts link the current figures to asbestos exposure among tradespeople before 1980.
Experts also added that a similar number of non-Mesothelioma lung cancer deaths may be linked to exposure to asbestos.