Mesothelioma stopped my brother from caring for his wife and riding his beloved motorbikes

Rob Harper from Birmingham shares the story of his brother Chris, who was a plumberin Lichfield.

The first effects of mesothelioma came from a shortness of breath. Although 79 years old Chris had been active all of his life. He played golf and cycled regularly as well as dismantling, repairing and riding his beloved veteran motorcycles.

As the shortness of breath progressed it became apparent that his one lung was filling with fluid. This led to him having to have a tube fitted and special bottles to drain it. He agreed to one session of chemotherapy but declined any further treatment as it made him so ill. Eventually he required a stairlift to allow him to access the bedroom. He refused to accept this lightly and insisted on using it only when absolutely necessary. His condition deteriorated much more quickly than expected. He was unable to walk from the kitchen to the living room at home in the weeks before he died.

During the final period of his life he wrote a number of letters to me with ‘instructions’. In the final one he said ‘I have no regrets.’

Throughout this time Cynthia, his wife, has been blighted by Motor Neurone Disease. So how did this added misfortune come to blight the family?

Chris was a plumber for about 20 years and spent some time at Good Hope Hospital where he would have worked in the ‘service ducts’. These ducts also carry the heating pipes, which in those days were insulated with asbestos lagging.

Hear more stories about the impact of mesothelioma. Join us on Zoom on Friday at 11am. Email for the link.