Grandfather-of-Two Instructs Workplace Illness Experts To Investigate After Being Diagnosed With Myelodysplastic Syndrome
A grandfather-of-two diagnosed with a rare blood cancer has spoken of his hope for the future after lawyers secured him a settlement.
Sean Kennedy, from Billingham, County Durham, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome – also known as MDS – after developing symptoms including stomach pain and fatigue in 2012.
His condition continued to deteriorate. In 2019 he underwent a life-saving stem cell transplant. The 61-year-old is now in remission and has regular monitoring.
Lawyers secure settlement for Billingham man diagnosed with blood cancer
Following Sean’s diagnosis he instructed specialist workplace illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether his cancer could be linked to exposure to benzene. Sean feared he may have come into contact with the chemical while employed on-board a research vessel tracing oil and gas under the sea bed.
Following legal submissions, insurers for Sean’s previous employer agreed an undisclosed settlement for Sean. The company denied liability.
Expert Opinion"Sean is among a growing number of people who have contacted us following the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease and concerned they may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals during their working life.
“While it’s great that Sean is continuing to recover from his cancer this settlement will ensure that he can access specialist support he requires as he continues his recovery.
“Harmful chemicals can have devastating consequences for not only those who are exposed to them but also their families. We now call on all employers to recognise the dangers posed by hazardous materials and the need to ensure the safety of staff.” Emma Bell
Blood cancer: Sean Kennedy's story
Sean, who is married to childhood sweetheart, Jan, 60, now co-owns a micro-pub. He thanked Jan, and their daughter, Claire, 37, for their help and support since his diagnosis.
The grandfather-of-two said: “Nothing prepares you for the news you have cancer and it was really difficult trying to come to terms with my diagnosis while at the same time battling deteriorating health.
“MDS had lowered my immune system and I developed large mouth ulcers and suffered with really bad fatigue. Because of my immune system not working properly I would often develop infections and ended up in hospital several times.
“It got to the point where the doctors said the only way I would survive would be to undergo a stem cell transplant. Finding out that the doctors had found a match was such an emotional time not only for me but Jan and the rest of the family."
Sean's hope for the future
“While I’m not fully back to the same as I was before my MDS diagnosis I’m a lot better than I was. I feel I can live and enjoy life now rather than each day being a battle. I get memory lapses and can be forgetful but I’m more active and co-owning the pub gives me something to focus my attention on.
“The last few years have been tough but the support I’ve had from everyone, including Jan, has got me through it.
“I’m in remission but can never be certain what the future may hold so the settlement and knowing that whatever happens in the future will be taken care of is a real weight off my shoulders.
“I just hope that by speaking out I can help raise awareness of rare cancers and help others who may be in a similar situation. They shouldn’t have to go through what they are alone.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and families affected by illnesses potentially linked to the workplace at our dedicated industrial disease section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.