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Widow Fights to Ease Suffering

The Journal (Newcastle, England), November 12, 2005

Serviceman's Widow Fights to Ease Suffering.

A widow is launching a national awareness day for the disease which killed her husband.

Royal Navy serviceman Mick Knighton died in 2001 of asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma.

He had been exposed to the substance in the early years of his forces career.

After his death, his grieving widow Chris, 59, set up the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, which donated pounds 100,000 to the British Lung Foundation earlier this year.

And on February 26, Chris, a mother-of-two grown-up children and grandmother-of-four, is launching Action Mesothelioma Day ( the first national awareness day for mesothelioma sufferers.

On that day, she hopes to hand in a petition to Downing Street calling for better treatment and an end to healthcare inequalities for people with the disease.

Chris, of Stadium Villas, Wallsend, North Tyneside, yesterday said: "We're doing this because there is no single body responsible for mesothelioma sufferers.

"There are unions, solicitors, representatives from the medical profession and people like ourselves who are all involved.

"But we are desperate to have a stronger voice."

Working with the British Lung Foundation, Chris hopes thousands of people will sign up to her charter.

She said: "We learnt the hard way about mesothelioma.

"Mick got back from holiday and was suddenly told he had this disease with no treatment, no cure and no hope.

"Mesothelioma has had a higher profile over the past few months.

"But the sad thing is that people with the disease in this region are unable to get the drug Alimta, which could extend their life.

"We're launching this charter to stop inequalities like that."

The charter demands better medical treatment for patients, for the Government's cancer tsar to make mesothelioma a national priority, and for employers to make sure no one else is exposed to asbestos.

Mick Knighton died in March 2001 at the age of 60.

He had served at sea for 14 years before becoming chief petty officer and master at arms at shore base HMS Calliope in Gateshead.

The Journal revealed in October that Prof Hilary Calvert, of the Northern Institute of Cancer Research at Newcastle University, had won the 2005 Pfizer Award for creating Alimta ( although the drug is not available to North-East patients.

Anyone who wants to sign up to Chris's charter can go to