The family of a retired nurse who has died from mesothelioma—the cancer of the lungs’ linings caused by asbestos exposure—is asking that anyone who may have worked with her come forward.
Betty Farrow worked at St. Michael’s Hospital in Aylsham, U.K. for only three years, from 1967 to 1970, but her husband worked there as a boilerman. Since boilermen and other manual laborers are among the occupational groups most vulnerable to asbestos diseases, and since asbestos exposure can occur on a secondhand basis, it may be that Farrow contracted the disease from asbestos fibers on her husband’s clothes.
The family is asking that anyone who worked with the Farrows at the hospital in the late 1960s contact their attorney, David Cass, in order to testify about the presence of asbestos in the workplace.
Asbestos fibers, when they are loose, can be inhaled into the body. Once there, they target the inner lining of the chest cavity and the outer lining of the ling, called the mesothelium, and cause its cells to divide and replicate uncontrollably, leading to cancer.
Mesotheioma can take up to 50 years to manifest itself through symptoms. Most cases of this rare cancer are diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV, when the disease has progressed beyond a point where surgery is feasible. Sometimes radiation or chemotherapy can be used, either to provide pain relief or to slow the cancer’s spread, but mesothelioma is not considered a curable disease. In fact, most patients are given only a few months to live after diagnosis.
A coroner issued a verdict of industrial disease by mesothelioma, and also said that Farrow had a particular type of scarring of the lung lining that is only caused by asbestos exposure.
Farrow, 79, and her husband also operated several pubs, including the Maid’s Head in Hindolveston and the Hevingham Fox. The couple had four children.