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A father of five diagnosed with sarcomatois mesothelioma, an aggressive asbestos related cancer, died just 7 months following his diagnosis.
An inquest heard how the 56 year old man, Walter Frederick Kendall, died as a direct result of exposure to asbestos.
Walter had worked at Paragon Wallpaper warehouse in Darwen where it is thought he was exposed to the asbestos.
He had said shortly before his death that he remembered there being flakes of asbestos falling down from the roof and ceiling.
In the aftermath of his death, his family have spoken about how they received very little support during his illness.
Walter’s wife of 18 years, Sharon Kendall, described the complete lack of knowledge about the disease from medical ‘professionals’.
Sharon commented, “We’ve encountered doctors, nurses and paramedics who haven’t understood what the illness is.”
“Charity and support networks are available for people with asbestos-related diseases, but for the rare sarcomatois mesothelioma that Walt had, there was nothing.”
“This was also clear in the abilities of some medical staff we encountered over the seven months he was ill.”
Because of this apparent lack of knowledge and understanding of the disease, Sharon and Walt decided to look for expert help elsewhere.
They found it at St Bartholomews Hospital in London with consultants that were willing to meet the couple to discuss Walter’s illness.
Two doctors at the hospital devised alternative forms of treatment for Walter and put him forward for clinical trials.
Sharon said of the experience, “Despite the fact there was still so little known about the cancer, the doctors in London were fantastic and so willing to help.”
“The staff in general at St Barts provided a much better quality of care than Walt was getting when in Blackburn, and as a family we are so grateful to the doctors and staff there.”
“It seems more people are dying from cancer due to asbestos exposure, and while we understand Walt had the rarest form, that doesn’t mean less efforts should be put into finding out how to cure it.”
“If speaking out about this could change or help one person get the help they need, it’s worth it.”
Walter was moved over to East Lancashire Hospice just four weeks before he died.
Lauren, one of Walter’s daughters, said of her father, “He had the most infectious laugh and smile.”
“He was a strong, brave man and he didn’t complain or grumble once throughout his illness – he was always more worried and concerned about those around him.”
“But there was just nobody around him that he could speak to on a level, someone who had been through the same thing or who really knew what they were talking about. In that sense he was alone in the illness.”
“He had the support from his whole family around him, but if he’d been able to speak to someone else about what he was going through who knew what it was like, things could have been different.”
“But that just wasn’t an option. Going forward we’d like awareness of the dangers of asbestos to be raised and we’d like to see more support available for those diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses.”
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