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Lets Offer Hope

Byline: Audrey Forbes Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), March 10, 2005

A Teeside widow who lost her husband to asbestosis-related industrial disease today backed a major campaign to improve treatment and compensation for victims.

Gillian Edwards' husband Brian died of mesothelioma almost six years ago, just six months after being diagnosed.

The family, from Ingleby Barwick, battled for five years for compensation to ensure Gillian could support their two children Jessica, now 18, and Joe, 14.

They were one of many Teesside families left fighting for compensation as a claim could not be made if the victim had been exposed to asbestos in more than one job.

Their nightmare ended only when Law Lords overturned the ruling made by the Court of Appeal.

Now Mrs Edwards is backing a Mesothelioma summit this week aimed at improving the current treatments available and offering proper compensation.

"The Government should definitely be doing something more," said the 49-year-old.

"We shouldn't have had to fight to prove Brian died of mesothelioma.

"Once you've seen a man die of mesothelioma that's bad enough. I don't want other families to go through what we did."

Mesothelioma is a symptom of the deadly legacy of Teesside's industrial heritage.

Chemicals formerly used in industries are being blamed for high rates of the cancer. Cases are now being diagnosed after the disease has had a number of years to develop.

The summit is being co-ordinated by the British Lung Foundation (BLF), Professor Mike Richards, national clinical director for cancer; as well as representatives from Mesothelioma UK, the TUC, healthcare professionals and patient support groups.

Liz Darlison, of the National Macmillan Mesothelioma Resource Centre, said: "Some 1,800 people die from mesothelioma each year and it is predicted the number will continue to rise until around 2015 and yet the general public and many healthcare professionals are not aware of this disease.

"The Government needs to take a two-pronged approach towards mesothelioma: improve the current treatments available and offer proper compensation."