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A Tribute to Debbie Brewer – Loving Mother& Asbestos Campaigner

June 13, 2013

A few years ago I was researching information concerning asbestos as I believed that I may have worked with it as a teenager. 35+ years later, and I can still hear my dad’s voice saying to me “ What the Eck are you working there for? You’ll end up with lung cancer, if that stuff gets on your lungs”. I had only just turned 16, fresh out of secondary school, and didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

The company was in Armley, in Leeds. They produced industrial gloves, i.e. for firemen and other industries where protective work clothing was required. For decades – although what my dad had said to me was etched on my sub-conscious memory, I had never worried about it and knew very little about the dangers of asbestos.

What prompted my research was because I developed lung problems and what my dad had said to me previously, suddenly rang alarm bells in my mind!  Although a visit to the GP confirmed that it was Asthma, I still couldn’t help being paranoid about the possibility that I had worked with asbestos and I may at some stage develop cancer. My dad described the cancer as a tree growing inside my lungs. Also as asbestos related cancer has a very long latency period, i.e. 20 -50 years, I still had nights where I’d lie awake trying at night to visualize the stiff/coarse grey material I had worked with and match it to asbestos products on Google images.

After putting all the relevant asbestos key words in Google – I came across Debbie Brewer’s blog and read her story; that she had developed mesothelioma, and  that it was caused by inhaling asbestos dust on her father’s overalls as a little girl. I contacted Debbie through Facebook and she was very open to chat to me. I told her about my concerns about my possible contact with asbestos, and she was very supportive.

Over the following few years that I was blessed to know Debbie – I noted how incredibly giving she was. So I decided to create a blog on mesothelioma, and if any other sufferers contacted me – I would mention them to Debbie and she’d say “Give them my contact details  if you like”.  and she would soon take them under her wing, and support and advice them.

Despite her ongoing battle with mesothelioma, she even cared about other people’s more trivial day-to-day problems. I.e. On one occasion I posted (what was considered a minor problem compared to what Debbie was facing) on my Facebook page, and she in boxed me asking me if I was OK. That’s the sort of person Debbie was,  and I didn’t just see her as this asbestos ambassador and campaigner, but this wonderful kind-hearted, generous, and self-sacrificing lady.

Sadly – Debbie, age 53 passed away on Sunday 8th June. What I will miss most is seeing her regular posts pop up on Facebook, they were full of love, dignity, and humour, and incredibly inspiring.  I think that a lot of the time I thought that she was invincible, because she was so fiercely strong and determined to fight mesothelioma, and I am sure that it was her fighting spirit that instilled so much hope into others.

I have no doubt that Debbie’s legacy in the fight for asbestos awareness will continue. She planted so many seeds and touched thousands of hearts across the globe, and even though she isn’t with us, many people that come across her story will still continue to grow strength from her.

We still have to be mindful that beyond her mesothelioma, Debbie was a devoted mum to 3 children, and I am sure that foremost – they will be grieving the loss of their mother, and not for the mesothelioma warrior she was.  So please be sensitive to this fact, and particularly in the forthcoming months.

My thoughts are with her 3 children at this time. I lost my mum to cancer at the age of 14, and I just hope that they will receive all the love and support that they need. . .

Bye Debbie. . . .Wonderful lady. x

Grace – A Dog’s Battle with Mesothelioma Cancer.

April 26, 2012

Forward – Pleural Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer associated with asbestos inhalation. Mesothelioma is predominantly found in humans but there has been reported incidents of dogs being diagnosed with the condition.
I have been following Grace’s story on Facebook (her name so incredibly suited to her) since she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in October 2011, and her owner – ‘Kirsty Redshaw’ has kindly given me the privilege to share this heart wrenching story about one owners love and devotion to this beautiful dog.
Grace a Sighthound rescue dog was spotted four years ago on Bradford road, Leeds, by dog-loving Kirsty – scavenging for food and in a terrible state. Kirsty – a Specialist Care Worker at Leeds General Infirmary took her home and provided her with everything she needed to restore her back to health, but most of all – Kirsty did what she does best with all her dogs – showered her with love and warmth in abundance, and Grace blossomed.
For the next 3 years – Grace was healthy and happy under Kirsty’s love and care along with some of her other rescue dogs . Here she is: centre placed in the photo:
Kirsty and her husband Mark are both dedicated to caring for their dogs and the dogs are included in many aspects of their lives, such activities include camping trips, a pint at the pub, . . and not to mention on their wedding day! Beautiful photo below:
But in October 2011 Grace began to show breathing problems. She appeared to be breathing more rapidly when laying on her right side. Kirsty took her to the emergency Vet and the Vet said that one of her lungs was noisy and diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed anti-biotics. Kirsty requested that Grace should be weighed as she had noticed that she had gained 2 kilos in weight during the last 8 -12 weeks and Kirsty, (being on the ball as usual) wanted to ensure that Grace would receive the correct dosage.
However – Grace seemed to be making no progress on the anti-biotics and Kirsty had reservations regarding the initial diagnosis so she took grace to her usual Vet for a second opinion. His diagnosis contradicted what the previous Vet had thought as one of her lungs was worryingly quiet, ‘the lung on the same side that grace was having problems sleeping on’. He booked her in for x-rays and the results showed up a lot of fluid, (pleural effusion) a common symptom of Pleural Mesothelioma. However I must express that pleural effusion can also occur in other lung related conditions. The fluid had to be manually evacuated using a syringe and in total – 2 litres were removed.
Grace was then referred to a more Specialist Vet for more extensive tests including an ultrasound. She had her build-up of fluid drained from her chest again, and was prescribed ‘frusimide’ a drug used to prevent the build up of fluid. Her blood work indicated Grace was loosing protein which they thought could be the cause of the fluid (protein loosing entropathy). Throughout all of this Grace’s protein levels remained low but Kirsty and Mark gave her a high protein diet to try and counteract it, and they did manage to achieve low to normal result.
Kirsty felt unhappy and bewildered by Graces’ treatment so far as she felt that she was not offered much in the way of an explanation concerning Graces’ condition, and being the loving sensitive person she is – she found it heartbreaking to see Grace endure lengthy recovering times after her anaesthetic procedures.
Kirsty then took Grace to see vet ‘Don Sheehan’ at Bridgewater Court, Manchester, one of the most highly respected veterinary practices in the North West. He studied all of Graces’ tests and mentioned Mesothelioma as a possible diagnosis. Kirsty asked the dreaded question ‘was it terminal?’ and the vet replied ‘yes’. Graces’ ultrasound was repeated and her chest drained of fluid yet again. Then at a later appointment Grace returned to the surgery for a thorocoscopy and biopsies on her chest wall, a specialist surgeon was called in to carry out the procedure with specialised equipment, otherwise Grace would have had to endure an operation to open up her chest .
The biopsies confirmed that Grace had fingernail sized lesions on her chest wall, and she was then referred to ‘Liverpool Small Animal Oncology Department’. Kirsty and Mark discussed the best possible course of treatment for her. Her first treatment (December, 2011) was to have a pleural port fitted, this would allow fluid to be drained from her chest without the need for subsequent anaesthetics.
Although Kirsty realised deep down that Grace’s illness was terminal she was desperate to try and give her the best possible chance and agreed to trying IV (intravenous) chemotherapy on Grace. Unfortunately Grace did not respond to the chemotherapy (carboplatin), thus this was discontinued after one cycle.
For the next following 3 months – Grace’s quality of life was fairly comfortable, with a regular dose of steroids and the port left in to drain off any build-up of fluid. Sadly – Grace passed lost her battle with Mesothelioma on 21st March, 2012.
The only 2 reasons that really consoled me during following Grace’s story on Kirsty’s facebook profile page is: reason 1 – seeing how Kirsty and Mark cared for her, and it was incredibly heart-warming to see. Grace enjoyed a selection of delicious home-cooked meals (Lamb was one of her favourites), a king size duvet to sprawl on, and her own chair with propped-up head cushion: See photo below . . . . . . . . .
There is one facebook entry where Grace could not get comfy on her duvet – so Kirsty gets up with her in the middle of the night and goes down with her to see that she settles on her favourite sofa. Reason 2 – is how glad and relieved I was that it was Kirsty that had rescued her!!
Author: Ann Waters.

Can I Protect My Loved Ones With Life Insurance Mortgage Cover?

March 6, 2012

One of the main reasons as to why people do not take out any Life Insurance Cover is that when a crisis happens – most people say ‘I didn’t think it would happen to me’. Making financial provisions for your loved ones will give you the peace for mind and assurance that if anything happens to you – your spouse/partner and children will still have a roof over their heads.

Having the right Mortgage Cover is crucial to your loved ones if you are suddenly faced with death or a terminal illness, because they won’t have the added stress and worry about the prospect of not being able to pay the mortgage repayments and the possibilty of having to sell the family home and move.

If you have a long-term mortgage and are worried about what will happen to your house if you pass away or are diagnosed with a debilitating or terminal illnesss – you can take out a fixed-term insurance cover to ensure that your loved ones will have financial help towards the mortgage costs.

The fixed-term mortgage cover plan is very flexible and you can choose the duration of the cover (minimum 3 years) to suit your requirements. For instance – you may want to provide cover towards your mortgage until your children reach financial dependence or until your mortgage repayments are paid off.

Aviva Life Insurance fixed-term  monthly premiums will always remain the same amount and you can pay as little as £5.00 per month, or a monthly premium based on your circumstances and financial goals.

There are 2 types of fixed-term cover to meet your needs. ‘Level Life’ and ‘Decreasing Life’

Level Life  – is tailored to help give your family the peace of mind to manage financially when they are suddenly faced with outstanding mortgage repayments. Level Life assists and provide cover towards your mortgage repayments, or if you suddenly pass away, or are faced with a terminal illness.

Decreasing Life  – has been tailored to assist and cover a repayment mortgage plan or any other existing loan – i.e. the balance owing reduces over time as you make your repayments. Whatever your requirements are having a good insurance policy will help you to obtain the best possible plan to suit your needs.