Cancer Awareness Day for Asbestos-Related Cancer, Mesothelioma: Event at Sheffield Cathedral
A special event was held at Sheffield Cathedral, to remember those who have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. The annual event seeks to raise awareness of this preventable but incurable cancer and to call for the eradication of asbestos in the UK.
The speakers on the day talked about current treatments and ongoing research to improve future outcomes for patients.
Organised by the Yorkshire and Humberside Asbestos Support Group (also known as SARAG), key speakers included Adrian Budgen, trustee of the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund and specialist lawyer in Sheffield, at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell, which helps families affected by this asbestos-related disease and other asbestos-related illnesses.
As for many people battling cancer during the COVID pandemic, sadly the last 15 months have been a particularly difficult for patients and families and also for the healthcare professionals supporting them.
Attendees gathered (socially distanced) outside the Cathedral, from 11am, where a remembrance book was available for people to include their tributes to loved ones they have lost to mesothelioma. There was also the opportunity to light a candle inside the Cathedral.
‘Forget-Me-Not’ flower seeds were available for a donation, with all proceeds going to the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund. The ‘Forget-me-not’ flower is the logo of Mesothelioma UK. The charity is dedicated to providing specialist mesothelioma information, support and education, and to improving care and treatment for all mesothelioma patients and their carers in the UK.
Expert Opinion“It’s a real honour to be able to speak at this very important important event.
“As a Trustee of this charity, it is an opportunity for me to bring people up to date on the latest mesothelioma research which the charity is funding. The charity was set up in 1997, in memory of June Hancock and has raised almost £2 million to advance research in the treatment of this rare cancer.” Adrian Budgen - Partner
Among those sharing their story as part of Action Mesothelioma Day was the family of Michael Herron from Ecclesfield in Sheffield. Michael recalled exposure to asbestos while working as a joiner at a Sheffield steel and tool making works from 1965 until 1974.
A devoted family man and a very fit and active 70 year old, Michael was on holiday in St Ives with wife Joyce, in 2019, when he developed a bad cough. He thought little about it until April last year, when the cough returned.
Michael consulted his GP and had a COVID test, which proved negative. He was referred for a chest X-ray at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, followed by a CT scan at the Northern General Hospital.
Following further outpatient appointments and biopsies, which included a drain to remove some of the fluid around his lungs, malignant pleural mesothelioma was diagnosed in September 2020. The news understandably had a devastating impact on all the family.
In December 2020 Michael had a fall at home and was admitted to hospital. Very sadly he died 10 days later on 12 December 2020, with Joyce by his side.
Speaking about the impact of Michael’s death, Joyce said: “Losing Michael to mesothelioma has been a terrible experience for the whole family, made even harder by the COVID pandemic.
“He was always so fit, and, before lockdown, would be at the gym two or three times a week and kept active with jobs around the house and in the garden. He hadn’t seen his GP for 10 years, so it was just such a shock to hear the diagnosis.
“Mesothelioma changed our lives overnight. The tiredness, chest pain and other symptoms meant he could not be as active anymore, which made him low and the pandemic made a bad situation worse, as he had to take care to shield from others at such a distressing time.
Simone Hardy, specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Sheffield, who represents Joyce said: “We want to take this moment to remember Michael and all those who have had to face this terrible situation. We believe that Michael was exposed to asbestos dust when cutting asbestos sheets as an apprentice, and later when he qualified as a joiner at a steel/tool making firm working as part of the maintenance team at the firm’s various sites in Sheffield”.
Anyone who remembers working with Michael Herron could hold vital information which may help the ongoing investigation into his exposure to asbestos. Michael’s former colleagues from 1965-1974 are asked to contact Simone Hardy at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4321.
Irwin Mitchell has been handling asbestos-related disease cases for almost 40 years and is a leading firm in this specialist area, having worked on some of the key landmark cases that have led directly to changes in the law.
The team has worked to raise awareness and campaigned to have asbestos removed from public buildings, including schools and hospitals.
The Yorkshire and Humberside Asbestos Support Group (also known as SARAG) can also be contacted for further information and support at https://saragasbestossupport.org/ or by telephone: 01709 360 672.
Mesothelioma UK can be contacted on: 0800 169 24 09.