Last Updated on February 7, 2017 by Kirsty Smithson
Kirsty List, aged 33, from Exwick in Exeter, is dying from an asbestos related disease.
Doctors have informed her that she most likely will not live until Christmas this year.
It is unclear how she has developed the illness, but she started to fall ill with symptoms back in September 2015.
When Kirsty first went for tests, she was told she had gallstones.
However, it was later on during the operation to remove her gallbladder that doctors discovered signs that she was suffering from something else….
Kirsty said, “When I first became ill I had what felt like a pulling sensation in my chest and like a trapped nerve in my neck. I was treated for gallstones for six months.”
“I was on quite a lot of Tramadol for the pain but I was still hurting too much. It was only when they went to take out my gallbladder that they found a tumour around it. They left my gallbladder in and did a tumour biopsy.”
Six weeks after the operation and biopsy, Kirsty was finally given the results of the tests and was shocked to say the least.
She said, “My consultants said I was suffering from mesothelioma. I was incredibly shocked because it’s something you hear in older people, not younger people. I didn’t know anything about asbestos disease.”
Kirsty has had five different types of chemotherapy now to try and counteract the disease, but none have worked.
It was in December 2016 that Kirsty was informed by her doctor that she doesn’t have long to live, and that it would be unlikely she would live until next Christmas.
Since her diagnosis, her health has been in gradual decline.
Kirsty explains, “It’s the pain and exhaustion that’s so hard to live with. I’m on quite a lot of pain medication and I feel tired all the time which makes it hard keeping up with my daughter, but luckily her dad, my ex-partner, is very involved in helping out.”
“I walk with crutches now because I can’t walk very far without having to sit down.”
“I do have a wheelchair but I’ve not braved using it yet and have been on a mobility scooter in Exeter city centre, but I felt like people were looking at me and wondering why I was using it at my age.”
“At the age of 33 it’s kind of embarrassing. To look at me you would think there’s nothing wrong and it makes me feel like having a sign on my back saying, ‘I’m dying, leave me be!'”
A large lump sum has been given to Kirsty from the government as compensation for her asbestos illness.
The money has been paid into a trust fund for her 5 year old daughter, Aimee.
In order to try and gain more compensation, specialist asbestos solicitor, Helen Grady, from Simpson Millar, has been instructed to find out where Kirsty may have been exposed to asbestos.
Kirsty says, “The trust fund I have been able to give Aimee is the only good thing about what has happened to me. Although I can’t be here for her, that money will be available to her to make her life a little bit easier and give her some security.”
Kirsty could have been exposed to asbestos while at school or when she worked in pubs.
She has since discovered that both primary and secondary schools she attended contained asbestos, and so did pubs where she worked for many years as a Manager.
A number of the pubs she worked in were undergoing renovations at the time.
Kirsty commented, “I don’t find it particularly frustrating that I don’t know where I picked up asbestos from because I choose not to focus on it. I can’t change what’s happened but I do feel a little bit angry because of my daughter. I feel a huge amount of guilt knowing I will leave her behind. That makes me sometimes want to stamp my feet and shout, ‘It’s not fair’.”
It may be too late for Kirsty, but she hopes that over the coming years that more will be done to raise awareness.
She said, “I would not necessarily want asbestos to be taken out of all buildings as I know that would be incredibly impractical. But I would like to see it become part of everyone’s induction process when people start a new job.”
“If asbestos is in a building everyone should be aware of where it is and how it should be treated to keep themselves and other people safe. It has to be a group effort.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/
Alternatively, to book onto one of our asbestos training courses, please call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/
[ap-twitter-feed]Published Feb 07, 2017