Trafford, England—Elaine Haskins, 59, is making public her husband’s struggle with mesothelioma in order to promote widespread awareness of this silent killer.
Hugh Haskins, who had worked for years as a builder, was exposed to asbestos on the job and eventually contracted mesothelioma as a result. Haskins died in 2005 at the age of 66. Says Elaine Haskins, “My husband never should have died.” Haskins was never given any kind of protective clothing or respirator to keep him from inhaling the asbestos fibers during the course of his labor. This led to the development of mesothelioma, a particularly destructive form of cancer whose only known cause is asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma can linger within the body for years without becoming evident. By the time it is eventually diagnosed, it has usually reached such an advanced stage that it is virtually untreatable. There is no cure for mesothelioma.
As part of the British Health and Safety Executive’s “Hidden Killer” campaign, which was launched this month, Elaine Haskins is speaking out to urge tradesmen and their families to make themselves aware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos. While there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure, the likelihood of contracting mesothelioma later in life increases with continued or repeated exposure. The disease is usually an occupational one, since asbestos was so widely used in various industries, especially in the mid-twentieth century. Yet there have been some cases reported that are traceable back to secondhand exposure, usually in caregivers or children of asbestos workers. Asbestos is considered Britain’s biggest industrial killer, and takes 4,000 lives each year – more than the number of Britons that die in automobile accidents. A radio campaign and a palliative care seminar in Manchester will be among the other events hosted in conjuction with the “Hidden Killer” campaign sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive.