Scotsman’s mesothelioma death shows devastating impact of asbestos
The mesothelioma-caused death of a Scotsman has spurred his widow to take up the fight against asbestos, which triggered the rare and deadly cancer that killed her husband.
Jim Duff passed away at the age of 62 from asbestos exposure that occurred 30 years prior to his death, when he worked in the civil service at RAF Pitreavie, a British air force base, according to the Daily Record. Now, Duffs widow, Rhona, is joining a campaign to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Duff’s encounters with asbestos and his fatal battle with mesothelioma are instructive in the sense that they show just how much peoples relationship to the deadly mineral has changed over the years.
"There was work being done on the building and dust was everywhere," the 59-year-old Rhona told the new source. "They used to throw it about like snowballs because they had no idea about the dangers.
This unawareness of the dangers posed by asbestos was typical just a short while ago.
The deadly mineral was first used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who considered it to be a miracle material of sorts because of its resistance to fire.
The use of asbestos in construction projects and industrial work was common throughout much of the 20th century, not just because of its flame-retardant properties but also because of its utility as an insulator. While the health risks posed by asbestos were noted a number of times throughout history, it wasnt until recently that an effort was made to ban its use. In fact, the effort to exile asbestos to the scrap heap of history, along with lead pipes and lead paint, is still ongoing as some countries, including Canada, still mine the deadly mineral.
Many people are still not aware that asbestos exposure can cause deadly diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, and, until recently, that group included Rhona Duff.
"In fact, until Jim’s diagnosis I had never even heard of mesothelioma," she said.
Unfortunately, Rhona is now far too aware of the toll that asbestos exposure can take on someones life.
"It is certainly something I know all about now. Because of it, Jim suffered the kind of horrible death that I wouldn’t wish on anyone," she told the news source. "All it takes is for someone to breathe in one tiny speck and 30 years later they get a diagnosis like this."
Asbestos-related diseases are particularly insidious because symptoms can take years to manifest, and when the illness can finally be diagnosed, it is often too late for doctors to do anything for the patient. For example, Jim passed away just six months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
"There are no early-warning signs so it was only when the cough began that we had any idea that there was something the matter," Rhona said. "Then they thought it was fluid on the lung. But when Jim went in to get it drained, they did further tests and were finally able to tell us it was mesothelioma."
The Duffs did all they could to help Jim fight his disease, but were unable to save his life.
"The illness just completely took over," Rhona told the news provider. "I miss the laughs and the good times we had together."
Now Rhona is doing her best to help the British Lung Foundation spread the word about the devastating effects of asbestos exposure in the hopes that others can avoid the ordeal she and her husband experienced.
The World Health Organization estimates that 90,000 people die every year worldwide because of asbestos-related diseases.