Mavis Nye, from Seasalter, Kent, is fighting to raise awareness of mesothelioma after contracting cancer – thought to be from contact with asbestos on her husband’s work clothes.
Occupational lung diseases such as mesothelioma – caused by exposure to asbestos fibres – are increasing. Since 1992, mesothelioma deaths have increased by 70% to 1,862 and it receives far less money for research than other cancers that kill the same number of people, something that Mavis is very keen to change.
Mavis said: “I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by contact with asbestos that affects the lining of the lungs, in 2009. I’ve never worked in the construction industry or on a building site, however my husband Ray did. He used to come home with his clothes covered in dust, which I used to shake clean and wash for him.
“At the time there was very little knowledge about dangers of coming into contact with asbestos, and it never crossed my mind that I would be in danger from inhaling fibres from his clothes. I think it's important for tradespeople to realise that it's not just their own lung health that may be at risk, but also loved ones – their partners and even children.
“Thankfully I am still here to talk about my condition, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I want to make sure no-one has to go through this experience in the future.”
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation (BLF), said: “Mavis’s story is truly inspiring. She is understood to be one of the few people in the world to be in recovery from mesothelioma.
“Breathing in asbestos dust can result in mesothelioma. It takes a long time to develop from the time of original exposure, so people might not experience symptoms for many years. It’s important that everyone in the construction trade is aware of the risks to their own health, and also to their friends and family.”
One way of reducing the effects that dust causes is using extractors. Festool, a supplier of high-end power tools and accessories, including a range of dust extractors, has been speaking with those affected by mesothelioma as part of its latest Breathe Easy campaign.
Jon Burcham, Marketing Manager at Festool, said: “Festool has long-been associated with our excellent dust extraction systems. We can see that dust extraction and the measures tradespeople need to take to protect their lungs is something that more and more people are talking about. But the awareness needs to go further. As Mavis’ devastating story shows, it's not just the individuals on a site who are at risk, people in the trade need to be aware of the risks to their families and partners and take steps to protect them as well.”