Mesothelioma – Taking a Moment For Meso


Have you ever heard of mesothelioma?

I hadn’t until a few days ago when a lovely chap by the name of Cameron St. James read this post and asked me if I’d take part in a campaign to spread awareness about it.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. In simple terms, it’s cancer of the membrane which covers the surface of most of our body’s organs.

There are two main types –  pleural mesothelioma (chest) and peritoneal mesothelioma (abdomen).

Facts and Stats

  • Asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma.
  • More than 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year (between 2000 and 3000 in the United States)
  • It usually takes between 20 – 50 years for the symptoms to appear.
  • Men are more likely to be diagnosed with this cancer than women. This is because, at the height of exposure to asbestos, most of the workforce were men.
  • Mesothelioma can be caused by secondary exposure to asbestos fibres – for example – bringing dust home on their clothing.

Symptoms include rapid weight loss, shortness of breath, pain in the lower back or the side of the chest, high temperatures, sweating, a persistent cough and sickness. Also a swollen tummy, tummy pain and changes to bowel habits with peritoneal mesothelioma

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material  from the 1950’s and was used regularly until 1999 when it was banned in the UK.

Surprisingly, the United States still hasn’t banned asbestos outright.

Where Can it be Found?

It can be found in many buildings, including schools, hospitals and homes. Being highly heat resistant, it was widely used in insulation and fire proofing – being used in products such as ceiling tiles, boilers, garage roof tiles etc. as well as being used as a bonding agent in plaster and artex.

What’s the Danger?

Asbestos materials which are in good condition are safe until disturbed.

Working on or near damaged asbestos material could increase your chances of developing an asbestos related disease.

When asbestos is disturbed and fibres are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. It takes many years for the disease to develop – this is why it’s known as the silent killer.

There are other factors involved such as how much exposure to the asbestos, for how long and to which kind.

Asbestos and Health Regulations

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that owners of buildings such as factories, schools and hospitals have a duty to manage asbestos by removing it if possible or making sure that it doesn’t get damaged. Any employer in an industry where coming into contact with asbestos is a possibility, such as construction, must give annual training to employees who are at risk.

Heather Von St. James’s father worked in the construction industry and the exposure to the asbestos dust that he brought home on his clothing is how she came to be diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma at 36 years of age – just a few months after the birth of her first child, Lily.

She was given 15 months to live.

In 2006, Heather underwent extensive surgery and later that year was given the all clear.

Heather describes herself as a cancer survivor and her story is special because mesothelioma is a very rare form of cancer. Historically, the prognosis hasn’t been great but survival rates are increasing and early detection plays a vital role in improving it.

What hits you about this amazing lady is how positive she is and it’s no wonder that she has become a research funding advocate and inspirational speaker for mesothelioma and asbestos disease awareness.

Not everybody is as lucky as Heather – we have a long way to go but with awareness we will be able to see more success stories like hers.

Up yours, Cancer!!

Heather’s story

Awareness Saves Lives

It isn’t just construction workers and other professionals who need to be aware of the dangers of asbestos.. the dangers can be in our own homes, especially in houses built before 2000 so it’s important to read up on the facts before undertaking DIY projects. Not sure? – get an expert in. You can’t put a price on your health or that of your family.

I have read many blog posts in the last few days and discovered a community of bloggers or ‘mesowarriors’ who are helping to raise awareness for this preventable cancer.

When I agreed to help Cameron, I knew nothing about the disease and very little about asbestos aside the word itself putting the shits up people but that’s the whole point of the exercise – to educate.

I’d like to thank Cameron for giving me the opportunity to do something worthwhile with my little corner of cyber space and to wish him and his beautiful family all the very best for the future.


With hope, the odds don’t matter ~ Heather Von St. James

Links of interest

Image of Cameron, Lily and Heather used with permission.

Disclaimer Gubbins

All content provided on this post is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information in this post or found by following any link attached to it.

Image Credit



with hope, the odds don’t matter.

Heather Von St. James – Mesothelioma Survivor

– See more at:






My Dad, His Prostate Cancer and Me.


Why is that the sun always seems to shine when we get the worst news?

Dad had been suffering from horrendous back pain for a few months. His GP had initially diagnosed a frozen shoulder and prescribed painkillers. The pain got worse and the painkillers weren’t touching it. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen my dad cry but I saw him crying with the pain in his back. His GP then thought it might be a slipped disc and Dad was sent to a specialist who ran some tests and on a beautiful summers day  – we got the results.

I will never forget that day because it was also my 26th birthday.

I drove Mum and Dad to the hospital for the results. We were laughing and joking in the waiting room but in a short time it would all change and our family would never be the same again..


The word that we all dread.

“Some bad news I’m afraid.. it’s cancer!”

With the consultant’s words echoing in our ears we walked out into the corridor in a state of shock and disbelief.

Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was referred to the relative consultant who decided to treat his cancer with hormones.

Unfortunately it was a case of ‘too little too late’ as the cancer was already spreading into his bones, which explained the back pain. And it was aggressive.

So aggressive that from diagnosis to death took just 6 months.

My dad was old school. He didn’t talk about illness. If he was aware of a problem with his waterworks in the early stages…he didn’t talk about it but I do remember him becoming extremely agitated one day when we were out in the car because he suddenly needed to wee. This was in the previous summer. In hindsight, the signs were there.

Prostate Cancer – The Facts

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with over 40.000 men being diagnosed each year.
  • It usually develops slowly.
  • Symptoms often only become apparent when the prostate is large enough to affect the Urethra…at this point symptoms like an increased need to wee, straining while urinating and a feeling that the bladder hasn’t emptied properly.

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean it’s cancer – it can be due to other things like an enlarged prostate.

Prostate Cancer – The Causes

  • Age – most cases are in men 50+.
  • It’s more common in men of African descent.
  • Men who have father’s or brothers with prostate cancer have a slightly higher risk.
  • Men who exercise are at lower risk of developing it…not to mention other health problems!
  • Diet – There is evidence to suggest that foods rich in calcium, burnt food, red meat, excessive alcohol and saturated fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Dad was one of the unlucky ones. A combination of pissing about (no pun intended) with diagnosis’s and his old fashioned attitude towards his own health cut his life short at 58 years of age. By today’s standards…that’s not old.

Today is his birthday and he would have been 76 years old.

I often wonder what he would look like now..

Scan 22-06-14

The cancer aged him in the way that sickness ages people but he was destined never to reach old age and even now – 17 years later, it makes me feel incredibly sad to be without him.

He faced this bastard of a disease with the same outlook that he’d had all his life – “It’ll be OK”.

But it wasn’t going to be OK.

My dad was one of the nicest blokes you could hope to meet.

His eyes twinkled and he’d a full on belly laugh – it was infectious!

I loved his laugh…

I loved him.

C was reminiscing about his grandad the other day and said that he could remember his wonderful laugh. That’s a great thing to be remembered for isn’t it?

And my dad laughed a lot..

Even with cancer rampaging through his body.

It was his way of coping. It was his way of saying, “Sod you, Cancer!”

He took the disease on but he was never going to win the battle.

But cancer could only take his body because the spark, which was my Dad, remained until the end.

Sadly, my story is one of loss but yours doesn’t have to be.

I have written this post in the hope that it will help to spread awareness of this type of cancer.

Be cancer aware because it may save your life or the life of someone you love.

Thank you for reading.

Some Useful Links

Photo Image

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin