David Phillips was diagnosed with mesothelioma four years ago, but at that time, he did not know what caused it. As a travel agent for 40 years, the 64-year-old had never thought he had been exposed to any of the types of construction materials associated with asbestos contamination, except for one time, while in the London office of his former company in the late 70s. Phillips remembers cleaning out a storage cupboard and being covered in dust.
Since it can take decades for mesothelioma to develop, the disease was dormant until a few years after taking early retirement. The first sign that told Phillips something was wrong was that he suffered a panic attack and was not able to breathe. â€œWe went out for a meal with some friends, I had a panic attack. They bundled me into a car and took me to Hinchingbrooke Hospital,â€ recounted Phillips. â€œOne of the first questions I was asked was â€˜Had I ever worked with asbestos?” At first, Phillips was diagnosed with pleuresy, but six weeks later, he became sick again, and after several more tests, doctors discovered fluid in his lungs. Now, after several rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an operation to stop the progression of the cancer, Phillips has been told nothing more can be done to help him.
â€œThere is no cure for the disease at all. They tried to remove as much of the tumour as possible and for three years it worked,â€ said Phillips. â€œAbout a year ago, I knew something was not right. The doctor told me it had returned but now it has spread from the left to the right lung.â€
Phillips went on to say how mesothelioma has changed his life for the worst.
â€œI canâ€™t walk long distances. I canâ€™t do gardening â€“ what normally took me a day to do, now takes me a week and a half. It is little things like mowing the lawn, I canâ€™t do now,â€ he explained. â€œBut I have got away with four years. Initially they gave me 12 to 15 months, so I am pretty happy with what I have got.â€ Now, Phillips is determined to raise awareness of mesothelioma and the dangers of being exposed to asbestos. Last year he jumped 1,400 feet from a plane to raise money for Mesothelioma UK and this year, his daughter, Laura, completed the Run to the Beat half marathon in London for the same charity. â€œI want to see more action. There is a lot of money that goes into breast cancer care, but mesothelioma gets hardly any funding whatsoever,â€ said Phillips.
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