"Bob is both a client and a friend and I’m extremely grateful to be a part of his life.
I’ve always enjoyed standing up for people, working within a team and using the law to make sure there is some justice in the world. But being a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell is so much more than offering legal advice. For me, it’s about supporting clients following a life-changing diagnosis and making a positive difference, for them and their families.
I’ve been working at Irwin Mitchell for 17 years, and have progressed from a secretary to an associate solicitor within the Asbestos Related Disease team.
One of the hardest parts of my job is supporting clients who have just been diagnosed with cancer; it’s difficult to comprehend what they’re feeling at that particular moment in time. I try to put myself in their shoes and explain that I’m there to help them however I can.
One of my clients, Bob McBratney was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2019. His best friend had passed away from the disease five days before Bob got his first symptoms, so he knew quite a lot about what might be ahead.
Despite being a wonderfully positive man, Bob had very negative thoughts in the early days. He was looking at a prognosis of 9 to 15 months and was already preparing his family for life without him. He was understandably very bitter that he was preparing for the worst, because the construction firm he worked for hadn’t done more to protect him from the dangers of asbestos.
Since his diagnosis, I’ve supported Bob and his family by carefully guiding them through the case and keeping them up to date at every step. This hasn’t always been easy for Bob, because he was quite ill but he’s a fighter. From clinical trials to chemotherapy, his treatment has been challenging throughout, but he has remained upbeat and always finds time for a joke to keep everyone smiling through the dark days.
Representing Bob has been a real privilege, and it was very emotional when I called him to explain he’d won the case. This not only means that Bob can continue to have the best possible treatment but that his family will have financial security when he is no longer with us. Being the selfless, kind-hearted man that he is, this meant so much him.
Knowing that I’ve helped turn Bob’s anger into optimism means a lot to me and my team – it’s the human touch that mattered.
One of Bob’s biggest pleasures in life was performing magic tricks and making his audience happy. It was something he didn’t think he’d be able to do following his diagnosis, but before Christmas he was able to do a special show for members of the mesothelioma support group. I was lucky enough to be there and watch his magic and his smile light up the room.
Bob is still here and is still enjoying life three years after his diagnosis. He continues to bring so much joy to everyone lucky enough to spend time with him and long may that continue."
Nicola Handley is an expert asbestos-related disease solicitor and has shared what it’s like to support clients like Bob as part of our human touch campaign.
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