HASAG Asbestos Disease Support is dedicated to supporting people affected by Asbestos-related diseases in the South, South East, London and the Home Counties.
Writing this blog from my office at home brings to mine the so many changes that have been bestowed upon us all since the first lock which began on 23 March 2020. I never envisaged then how the world would change so dramatically over the last 16 months. However, one thing that has remained a constant throughout that time is the utter dedication and professionalism of the medical profession and in particular the clinical nurse specialists and asbestos support groups, who have provided unwavering support to all patients of mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases.
Adversity has ushered in ingenuity and we have all adopted new ways of working and keeping in touch with our clients/patients. Many support groups continue to offer virtual coffee mornings via Zoom and to generate significant charitable donations through their excellent fund raising. At the virtual meetings I have attended I am struck by the stoicism and enthusiasm of all the patients and clinicians. It is encouraging that so many wish to share their experiences with others and to receive sound practical advice from the clinicians that do attend.
Many of my clients have expressed that they have found friendship and kinship with fellow sufferers and have greatly benefitted from counselling services offered by HASAG.
Mesothelioma UK continues to provide support to 35 clinical nurse specialists throughout the UK, who are at the coal face providing care, consultation and treatment for those most in need. Their advice about immunotherapy trials and therapy are invaluable.
Dr. Mavis Nye, Mesowarrior, continues to be the champion for all patients of mesothelioma and it’s a testament of her enduring courage and enthusiasm that during lock down she had been awarded by the Queen with the prestigious British Empire Medal for her services, despite her own constant battle with the disease. What a true warrior!
We in the legal profession have also adapted and innovated our working ways in that we provide a choice of either face to face contact (when safe to do so) and virtual meetings for all of our clients which have proven to be an excellent way of keeping in touch. The use of information technology to facilitate the claims process, whilst maintaining a high level of client care has been fundamental. We aim to build on our experiences and knowledge gained over the last 16 months to continue to improve our legal services and client experience.
Action Mesothelioma Day was hosted this year by Kate Williams on 2 July, and despite a number of IT gremlins, did a fine job presenting a number of guest speakers including Dr. Sanjat Popat, a Consultant Thoracic Oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Kate is BBC newsreader and was diagnosed in 2017 with cystic peritoneal mesothelioma. Dr. Popat spoke of the benefits of immunotherapy especially those suffering from the more rare sarcomatoid and biphasic carcinomas. Ray Nye, husband of Mavis, read a moving poem from the perspective of a carer less we forget those who provide unfailing support and devotion to their loved ones. We can all take heart of the many support groups and participants supporting this year’s event, and let’s hope next year we can meet up in person and share our experiences.
Below we discuss a case for a former retired Police Superintendent sadly diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen, which is known as the peritoneum. It is caused by ingesting asbestos fibres. Over time, irritation from the asbestos fibres can cause scarring and inflammation which can lead to a mesothelioma tumour growth on the affected site. This sadly occurred to Peter* who was enjoying his retirement after a successful 30 year career in the police. He joined as a young cadet and once he qualified as a police officer a few years later, he rose through the ranks to become a superintendent. Sadly, 20 years into his retirement and now a full time carer to his wife who suffers from severe arthritis which affects her mobility, he began to suffer with a distended stomach and swollen ankles.
Peter went to his doctor where he was told he’d developed malignant peritoneal mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos during his police career. It later came to light that Peter had been exposed to asbestos whilst retrieving boxes of files stored in basements near to boiler rooms of the various police stations where he worked and also whilst supervising riot training undertaken twice a year at former MOD buildings.
As Peter’s condition worsened with loss of appetite and weight, reduced exercise tolerance, side-effects from prolonged treatment, and the mental stress of his fatal condition, he became increasingly more worried about caring for his wife and how he could possibly continue to do so when he too had a debilitating medical condition.
Peter contacted one of our panel lawyers, Edmund Young of Slater and Gordon who established on his behalf that the MOD buildings where the riot training was carried out more than likely contained asbestos material and as a result of flash bangs grenades being released and riot simulation, there would have been significant disturbance and subsequent exposure to asbestos dust and particles. This was initially disputed by the defence lawyers and court proceedings were commenced at the High Court to determine this issue.
Following evidence being given by Peter at an interim hearing, liability was conceded and a six-figure settlement for Peter and his wife was negotiated with an indemnity obtained in respect of the cost of future treatment including immunotherapy. The settlement package allowed Peter to get the expert private medical treatment he needs to manage his pain for the rest of his life as well as care support for his wife so that she can continue to be looked after. Peter was very pleased with the outcome and extremely grateful to have received early expert legal advice, support and empathy throughout his case.
*His name has been changed for the purpose of anonymity*