Vivienne Swain from Rochdale puts her diagnosis of Mesothelioma cancer down to having washed her husbands asbestos ridden clothes for years.
Her husband, Michael, worked as a joiner for Manchester City Council in the 1970s.
He died in his early forties from a brain disease.
Vivienne, aged 60, started having breathing difficulties, and was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2015.
She was told that she would live for three years at the most.
She said, “I would shake the overalls before washing them and they would be heavy with dust, so much so that it would cover the kitchen floor, and I’d have to sweep it up.”
“I believe these were asbestos fibers.”
Having never had any previous health issues, Vivienne started to feel unwell at the start of 2015, but didn’t think much of it at the time.
She was prescribed an inhaler that eased the symptoms for a short time.
But the inhaler didn’t help for long as whilst on holiday in Greece that same year, Vivienne was again struggling to catch her breath.
It was then that she realised something had to be wrong as she’d never experienced breathing difficulties before.
An X-ray was taken at Rochdale Infirmary upon Vivienne’s return home from holiday.
Doctors immediately admitted her as an emergency case after learning the results of the scan.
They were baffled and asked if she’d fallen or had an accident while on holiday, as it appeared that a third of her lung had collapsed.
But Vivienne informed them she hadn’t fallen and she was subsequently transferred to Fairfield General Hospital, Bury.
Months of tests were carried out, but no cause could be found for her illness.
That is until tests conducted at Wythenshawe Hospital three weeks later revealed her diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Vivienne said, “I was told it was incurable, and a cold feeling went through my whole body.”
“I didn’t cry and just launched into asking about treatment. I was on autopilot and kept thinking about how I’d tell my sons Craig (43), Paul (39), and Todd (26).”
“Then I asked how long I had and was told, at best, three years. But I said to the doctors, ‘I guarantee you I’ll still be here in five.’ I’ve got too much living left to do.”
After receiving the shock diagnosis, she had to have a pleural drain fitted in order to help prevent a buildup of fluid on her lungs
Her partner, Ian, was given instructions on how to drain it every few days when required.
Chemotherapy treatment was then offered every three weeks, which she finished in October 2016.
It is believed that asbestos exposure is the most likely cause of Vivienne’s illness, which in her belief was caused by washing the clothes of her late husband.
Vivienne has asked Thompsons, a specialist asbestos disease solicitors in Manchester, to investigate her case.
She wants other people to come forward who may have worked as a joiner for Manchester City Council between the period 1969 to 1977.
In the hope of prolonging her life, Vivienne is looking at using any compensation she receives from the government to fund private cancer treatments.
As a way of raising awareness of mesothelioma, Vivienne is working alongside the charity Mesothelioma UK.
She has also received support from Greater Manchester Asbestos Victim Support Group.
The group provided Vivienne with funding towards treatment and she can’t be more thankful.
Speaking about her illness, Vivienne went on to say, “I refuse to be defined by my illness. I’ve been given a sentence but I won’t give in to it.”
The plan is to spend more time with her family and loved ones and not get down about her situation as there’s nothing she can do about it.
If you have any information that could help Vivienne’s case, her solicitors have requested that you contact Steven Dickens at Thompsons Solicitors on 0161 819 3571 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for more information or to book a training course.