We often write about the sad stories of people who pass away from mesothelioma; of women like Nellie Kershawe, a mother who died from ‘pulmonary asbestosis’ in her early thirties as long ago as 1924. It is right and fitting that we should not forget those people and their journeys.
But what about the stories of positivity and hope? What about the people living now with mesothelioma or those who spent their lives making a difference by inspiring others to keep going? As shocking and sad as it is to see children and young adults diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are countless positive news stories which we can draw upon to offer hope to those who are living with and fighting this asbestos-related cancer.
Macie Greening – teenage inspiration
Macie Greening was just 14 years old when she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in spring 2018. ‘Macie’s Army’ was swiftly formed by her friends and family to raise money for a family holiday to Florida. Macie’s family have now booked the holiday and will be going in a few months. Spurred on by Macie’s Army’s efforts, Macie has decided to continue fundraising to help children in a similar situation. Just humbling.
Macie is taking part in a clinical trial which is not usually available to children but the results are looking promising, with scans showing that the tumour as shrinking. Long may this continue and how amazing it is that Macie is inspired to help others whilst undergoing her treatment. To donate to Macie’s fund please click here.
Mags Portman – leading from the front-line
A consultant in sexual health and HIV with a particular interest in the prevention of HIV, this mum to two boys was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. She died in February 2019 at the age of 44. Mourned by the HIV and mesothelioma communities alike, Mags’ courage in sharing her own experience of mesothelioma raised awareness that modern day mesothelioma can no longer be regarded as “an old man’s disease” which will die out with the lives it extinguishes. Her premature passing was a war-cry to the medical and research community to rally all available resources to fight this terrible disease.
Mags shared her belief in the importance of research and the hope that clinical trials provide. She had some success with first line chemotherapy but, when her disease progressed following the second cycle, she began privately funded immunotherapy. She drew parallels between her own healing journey and that of her patients, who have been diagnosed with HIV - an entirely preventable disease, but one that has had greater funding for research over the years than mesothelioma. Whilst, as we know from her own writings, she went through the darkest of times, Mags continued to fly the flag about the importance of research and clinical trials, blogging about the pain and discomfort, but also the laughter, meals out and trips away with her beloved family. We send our heartfelt condolences to Martin and their children at this difficult time.
Back in 2004 when I began working with mesothelioma patients, clinical trials were not on the radar. It’s encouraging to see that mesothelioma research has come so far in a decade. Mesothelioma UK are a fantastic source of information about current clinical trials, which are developing constantly.
For more information click here and telephone Mesothelioma UK if you are interested in participating in any clinical trials to find out whether you could be a suitable candidate.
Mavis Nye – Mesowarrior!
“Mesowarrior” Mavis Nye probably needs little introduction; she and husband, Ray, have done so much to raise awareness of mesothelioma, clinical trials and the health and safety concerns about asbestos that still affect the UK. Diagnosed almost 10 years ago, Mavis continues to support mesothelioma sufferers and their families, travelling up and down the country between treatments to give presentations, attend industry events and support group meetings. Whilst continuing to live life to the fullest, she has set up the Mavis Nye Foundation, a charity which will provide research grants to fund clinical research into treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. The first application process is open from January to 31 March 2019. For more information, and to apply for this grant, please click here. We are behind you Mavis!
Liam Bradley- cracking on with life
And if it’s a male role model you’re looking for, meet Liam Bradley. Diagnosed at 30 years old, Liam commented, “The first few months were a blur, always wondering if this would be my last Christmas or my last birthday but, as time went on, I learnt to basically stick two fingers up at the cancer. After the first six months or so, I became mentally much stronger. The main reason for that is my three-year-old daughter – I’m determined that nothing is going to stop me seeing her grow up.”
Liam challenged himself to raise £100,000 for Mesothelioma UK, by cycling from Nottingham to Alicante, a mere 100 miles a day! Completely committed to the charity, he also cycled to the patient and carer day at Mesothelioma UK’s event in October in Burton upon Trent. What an achievement and an inspiration!
For every inspirational story that is featured on social media or the local news, there are many more who are carrying out their inspirational yet humbling work away from the glare of the limelight.
There is no doubt about it; mesothelioma is a disease that devastates the lives of individuals and their families, but medicine is advancing, help is at hand and, as these courageous people have proven, where there’s hope there’s life, and there is always room for hope.
If you or a loved one have suffered from an asbestos-related disease and you would like to find out more about making a claim, contact the mesothelioma and asbestos claims team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.