The daughter of mesothelioma victim, Julie MacDougall, has started a charity in her father’s name to help raise awareness for the rare cancer.
Julie’s father John MacDougall was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006 when he was rushed to the hospital after collapsing and complaining of breathlessness, heavy sweating, and bloating. John MacDougall died at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, U.K., in August 2008; he was only 60 years old.
Now nearly two years since her father’s death, Julie, with her mother and brother, has started the John MacDougall Mesothelioma Trust to help others just like her family and her father. Julie has said that starting this charity in memory of her father is the way she is coping with her loss. John MacDougall’s mesothelioma diagnosis has been attributed to his early days as a shipyard worker during the 1960s and 70s.
Like many shipyard workers of this time, he was exposed to asbestos by handling asbestos-laden products and materials- as part of his job. In 2007, John MacDougall volunteered to be part of a radical mesothelioma surgery program at Victoria Hospital, in an effort to improve his condition and quality of life. In March of that year he underwent surgery to remove one of his lungs and to remove a cancerous portion of the lining of his heart.
The MacDougall family had hoped this procedure would grant him an additional five years of life as it had done for some patients. However, John MacDougall passed away a little over a year later. Before his death, John MacDougall was a member of the British Labor Party, a former Fife Council leader, and close personal friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Brown called him “[a good personal friend, and true servant of the people.” The MacDougall family kicked off the new charity by donating the first £1000 . They are now planning their first major fundraising event in August to mark the two-year anniversary of John MacDougall’s death. Julie believes that continuing in public service is what her father wanted and the trust is a way to do that: “I’d like to think he would be extremely happy and proud that we are doing this to pass on the knowledge we have got, little as it might be, to help other people going through what he went through.”