Advocate of the Month – April 2013 logo

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Shirley White, the Advocate of the Month for April, for sharing her story about her husband’s fight against epithelial left lung mesothelioma. Shirley’s story is important to share with our community for support and especially during an important week like Asbestos Awareness Week. With our shared knowledge and support, our community can continue to spread awareness and hope for this disease.

Shirley’s Story

My husband Neil had always been a very fit and active person, as well as a non-smoker. Like many others, we were completely shell shocked when, after symptoms of breathlessness, he was eventually diagnosed with epithelial left lung mesothelioma. There had been various asbestos exposures, even back to when he started work as an apprentice carpenter, where no masks were ever worn.

Neil never once said “why me?” and continued to live life with his usual smile and positive attitude. “Worrying gets you no where & only makes you worse,” he would say. The doctors decided to use a watch and wait approach with regular scans and mesothelioma mark blood tests.

Two years passed and there was an increase happening in the tumor size. He then had Alimta/Cisplatin chemotherapy. The tumor shrank after each round. Three years after his diagnosis in 2005, Neil passed away, just 6 days after the birth of our youngest grandson, Liam. Luckily, we have a precious photo of him with baby Liam.

For our family it was a roller coaster of emotions, from happiness to desolate sorrow all in less than a week. Facebook and support group sites that have now emerged give great comfort and support 24 hours a day from others with experience and who understand what each person is going through.

Asbestos was known to be a carcinogen back as far as 1924 in the U.K. Cover-ups, corruption, greed, and lack of care for workers on so many levels have resulted in innocent victims worldwide, painfully and tragically paying with their lives. Finding the elusive ‘cure’ depends on very dedicated researchers; they can only do their job with decent funding. Research funding for mesothelioma in most countries is a pittance or non-existent. To put it in context– it’s like trying to put an extremely small shoe on a very large foot.

God bless all who have suffered, or will in the future contract this horrible disease. Not one of you ever deserved this! You were never protected by all the powers that be, and it would be a complete surprise if anyone is ever brought to the justice they deserve. The passion is in me that one day there will be fantastic news that a cure has been found!