Advocate of the Month – August 2013 logo

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to thank Andrea Hastie for becoming our August Advocate of the Month. Below, Andrea shares the heartbreaking story of losing her father Roy Hastie to malignant pleural mesothelioma recently. As Roy said to his family, being affected by mesothelioma was “like waiting for a ticking time bomb.”

It was New Years Eve, awaiting 2013. Dad said lets book a family holiday, so we booked a week in Fuerteventura. Rebecca, our daughter, was in her final year at primary, so we decided to take her out of school for a week. A few weeks passed and dad had been to see his doctor about left shoulder pain and a niggle in his arm and back. Thinking it might have been his heart, we thought it was best to get checked out. He was sent for blood tests and an x-ray. His next visit revealed something was going on with his blood and he was referred to the specialist lung consultant at our local hospital. Worrying the appointment was 5 weeks away he paid private to see the same specialist at our Bupa Hospital, bringing the appointment 3 weeks closer. Even this was a very stressful worrying time.

After further scans, he eventually received news he had malignant pleural mesothelioma on the left side. The exact words said to Dad and Mum, “you had better prepare your family, Mr. Hastie, it’s not good news.” At this point, mum stood up and went to walk out of the room and Christine, the lung specialist nurse, grabbed hold of mum’s hand and said, “sit down.” Mum was in shock, thinking they couldn’t be talking about her Roy! They decided Dad would receive 4 chemotherapy treatments over 16 weeks. We knew at this point that mesothelioma wasn’t curable, but chemo could help to shrink the tumor and give dad more time. Dad was feeling very positive and went along with anything that was offered.

Friday March 8 2013, he went for his first chemo, where he was supposed to stay overnight. On Saturday, his legs had become swollen so they kept him until Sunday. On Sunday homeward bound we came, but Dad was feeling sickly and just wanted to sleep, which we thought was normal. Then he began a temperature and diarrhea and he was admitted back into hospital on Tuesday. Three weeks passed and he was still hospitalized. Then we learned he had toxic poisoning and had contracted C Diff. The weight started to drop off him, over 2 stone. By the time he came home, he had to be pushed in a wheelchair to our car. He was so weak and we didn’t even realize how close we had been to losing him then. From then on, no more chemo treatments were given because of the toxic reaction.

Another 6 weeks passed and further hospital appointments followed where you have a blood test the day before you go followed by an x-ray. These appointments were to keep check on how far the tumor was spreading. Dad had tumors growing around his left rib cage front to back and on his collarbone. There was quite a horrible lump below his left collarbone that was visible and he felt very conscious of it. Eating was a task, weight was still dropping off him, and a diet of soup and jelly was all he could manage.

In June, dad he was discharged from seeing the consultant at the hospital, it was just a waiting game now or as dad said, “it’s like waiting for a ticking time bomb.” The local Macmillan nurses and palliative care nurses took over and visited 2 or 3 times a week along with our local doctor. It was dad’s wish to die at home so everything was put into place for his care at home. The last 2 days mum struggled, dad’s legs were so weak he couldn’t stand anymore and the medication was making him very sleepy. It was decided Dad would go into our local hospice, Overgate Hospice, and the staff made dad comfortable and looked after mum impeccably. Dad’s fight only lasted 2 more days and we lost him on July 18th at 6:10 pm.

From the age of 15 years old, dad had decided to become a joiner and had begun his apprenticeship. As a boy of such a young age, his job was cutting asbestos roof sheets with a handsaw. He then served his time out working in the old mills in Bradford, modernizing hospitals and schools around the district and coming into contact with old pipe lagging frequently. We had never heard of mesothelioma or asbestosis. This is such a horrible, painful disease and has broken our family’s hearts to watch dad deteriorate over the last 5 months. Dad, my hero, best friend and soul mate– gone! He was a devoted husband, poppa, and such a kind and gentle person who left this world in such a horrible way by simply providing an income for his family. RIP Dad, xxxx.