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Mesothelioma

Vigil Held for Victims of Asbestos

Byline: By Chloe Griffiths The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 25, 2006

Candles flickered on the banks of the Tyne yesterday as sufferers of a terminal illness and their loved opnes held a twilight vigil.

The group gathered at the HMS Calliope naval base to highlight the growing number of people dying from the asbestos-relation condition mesothelioma (corr) ( a form of terminal lung cancer.

The vigil was led by Christine Knighton, who founded the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund in honour of her husband who died in 2001, after being exposed to asbestos while serving in the Royal Navy.

Also present was mesothelioma-sufferer Arthur Tiffin, who was told by doctors he would not live more than three months after being diagnosed last September.

The River Tyne vigil was being held ahead of National Mesothelioma Day on Monday when Mrs Knighton will travel to London to hand in a petition with more than 13,000 names, including 5,500 from the North-East, at 10 Downing Street.

The petition demands greater research and funding into the killer disease.

The 59-year-old widow, who has devoted her life to raising money and campaigning tirelessly for better research, will also go to the House of Commons to meet MPs.

On the same day, Christine, has organised a meeting at St James's Park for mesothelioma sufferers, their families and campaigners.

The fund, which she founded in honour of her husband, has already raised pounds 150,000 and only recently pounds 100,000 was donated to the British Lung Foundation to fund new research. Christine, whose husband was 60 when he died, said: "When my husband was diagnosed he was a fit, healthy man, but we were told there was no cure, no treatment and no hope.

"He lived for seven months and I vowed that something would be done ( the money had to be found for research. I just hope this begins to raise awareness and gets the Government and employers to take action."

Sufferer Mr Tiffin added that it was through increasing awareness that a cure could be found. The 52-year old, of Cardinal Close, North Walbottle in Newcastle, was refused the life-extending drug Alimta on the NHS and was told he would have to pay for it privately at a cost of pounds 24,000.

But on the day in December when he found a doctor in London who would treat him, health chiefs in the North-East reversed their decision.

Yesterday, he said he felt healthy and was looking forward to the birth of his first granddaughter.

He said: "I was told I had three months, but that was rubbish ( I'm still going strong. I've met other people who had two years on Alimta, and in that time a cure could be found. It's all about increasing awareness."