Most people are aware of Asbestos or may have heard of Asbestos, but most still do not know the seriousness and true impact of how dangerous it can be, the impact it could have on you and your life. Asbestos is a term used to refer to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals; each fibre being composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes. The use of Asbestos is now illegal in most countries, as it is well known that it can cause serious hazards to health, Asbestosis, lung conditions and some forms of cancer. Being exposed to Asbestos can put your health at serious risk and can later cause a form of cancer known as Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an Asbestos-related cancer affecting the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and other organs. It is usually caused by exposure to Asbestos dust – when a person breathes in asbestos fibres, the fibres can work their way into the pleura, which is the membrane that protects the lungs from damage by the ribs, during the act of breathing. There is currently no known cure for this disease.
This year the Mavis Nye Foundation is the chosen Charity of the year for UKATA – UK Asbestos Training Association, The leading authority on Asbestos Training. I have been privileged enough to Speak to Mavis the founder of the Mavis Nye Foundation and interview her on her own personal experience with Asbestos and Mesothelioma. I feel her story will help you all to have a better understanding of the true impact of Asbestos exposure and the health implications it can cause.
In 2009 Mavis went on a trip to visit her son in Spain for three months, she was a generally fit and well woman, upon returning from her trip she began to experience some health problems, specifically arm numbness and difficulty breathing. She visited the doctor a couple of times but did not get any diagnosis, the doctors therefore decided to send her for an Xray to try and find some answers. Mavis later returned to the doctors on voting day, as she had set out to go and submit her vote, but, found that she could not breathe properly. The doctor sent her home but rang her later that day and informed her that she must go to A&E immediately as a large mass had been located on her recent Xray.
Upon attending A & E Mavis had a procedure to drain off 7 Litres of fluid, the fluid was tested, and the doctor was able to diagnose Mesothelioma from the fluid sample. Mavis then had to undergo a procedure where talcum powder was inserted inside her chest, this sticks to the lining of the lungs to the chest wall to prevent more fluid from forming again and allows the lung to reflate. The doctors discussed the best way to progress for Mavis and decided upon Chemotherapy. Mavis received three lots of four sessions of chemotherapy over a period of four years, during the 4th session Mavis became toxic, so she was not to be allowed any more treatment. The mass had appeared to be shrinking and the chemo successful, until the last treatment. Mavis had not knowingly been exposed to Asbestos within her work, however, she had regularly washed her husband’s clothes and hugged him whilst he was wearing the contaminated clothes after he had been working in a dockyard during the 1960’s, long before the HSE existed. The inhalation and exposure to the Asbestos in this way had caused the Mesothelioma. Raymond, Mavis’s partner also has air pockets and scarring because of the exposure to Asbestos and working in the dockyard, where every day Ray was exposed to clouds of Asbestos. In my opinion this shows the true strength of Asbestos and displays the hazards it really can cause from exposure through working with Asbestos or simply just washing contaminated clothes!
In 2014 Mavis had severe difficulty walking and sitting and found she could no longer continue to do daily tasks. Her day to day way of life and health were deteriorating and with no treatment available Mavis began to lose hope until, the Royal Marsden Hospital in London reached out to Mavis with news of a trial they wanted to carry out for Mesothelioma patients, to take part in immunotherapy sessions, Mavis hopefully agreed, along with two other patients. Mavis found that her body reacted positively to the immunotherapy, in fact a completely positive response, and from 2014-2016 had 2 years almost symptom free, in which her mass did not grow. The other two patients that underwent the immunotherapy, sadly passed away. Mavis really thought that she had found some sort of solution and light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak but, unfortunately, in 2018, a routine scan revealed that the mass was starting to grow again.
Mavis then became the first person to do a re-trial and rechallenged the drug called Keytruda (pembrolizumab). A drug that is said to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. The drug seemed to work well for Mavis over the next 3 sessions, however, cancer is a clever disease, and it began to mutate and hide. Mavis fought back and began treatment through The Hyper Trial, a newly introduced drug however, the drug failed and in March 2020 Mavis stopped the treatment.
Mavis had her last scan back in September 2020 and discovered that the cancer had escaped her lungs and spread to her spine, despite this her condition is stable. Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy are available for Mavis and this may be the next step she will take in battling Mesothelioma. As Mavis has received some exceptional support and care from the NHS in particularly, the Kent and Canterbury and Royal Marsden Hospitals, she decided to give something back to them and in 2017 the Mavis Nye Foundation was born. The foundation was created to offer support to Mesothelioma patients in various ways. One of which was to fund and sponsor a permanent Mesothelioma nurse. The funding also goes towards research and this year funds raised have secured the purchase of a trial machine for peritoneal cancer treatment at the Basingstoke Hospital! The foundation regularly holds events such as sponsored runs, bike rides, quizzes, and raffles.
After hearing Mavis’s story, I felt truly inspired to share her story with you all and help to raise awareness of the true impact Asbestos exposure could have on you, your health and your life. As Mavis knows very well, living with Mesothelioma is not easy, you cannot make plans for your future, you cannot live everyday with ease and you are in a constant fighting battle. Nonetheless, Mavis continues to push on and is an inspiration to everyone she meets. Her work within the community is undeniably amazing and her story provides a valuable lesson for us all. The work Mavis and husband Ray have done has not gone unnoticed. After hearing about Mavis, a lawyer put her and Ray forward to receive an Honours with Kent University, Mavis and her Husband won! They became the first couple to ever to do this and got a standing ovation. Click here to see the video: Graduation Ceremony 09 July 10:30 Rochester – YouTube
As we are now luckily aware of the true impact of Asbestos, I want to inform you of various ways that can help to protect you, your health, and your future. The world has developed a lot since the 1960’s and we now have access to information that is available on Asbestos and the risk it poses, that we sadly did not have before. Training courses are available throughout the UK and courses that are accredited with UKATA – the UK Asbestos Training Association and many others can help to make sure that you and your employees understand the dangers of Asbestos, potential hazards involved in working with and removing Asbestos and provide you with the necessary knowledge to be able to safely carry out your job.
Training is the first step to be taken in increasing your knowledge of Asbestos and therefore, offering a better chance of reducing the risks of exposure to Asbestos however, the second step is just as important. The second step is to ensure that those that may come into contact with Asbestos are suitably equipped to do so. Both Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) are essential in these circumstances. PPE such as protective overalls/suits, gloves, hoods, and footwear can be worn. RPE should be used, and must be correctly suited to the job being carried out and all wearers of RPE should undergo a Face Fit Test that can check if the mask fits correctly to ensure that no molecules or fibres are passing through and being inhaled by the wearer. I am sure that if Mavis and the many others that have suffered from the consequences of Asbestos Exposure could have protected themselves if they were given the choice to, would have done so.
If you require Training on Asbestos Awareness or a Face Fit Test, we are approved and accredited with UKATA and Fit2Fit and would be happy to help to provide a training course or Face Fit Test. We offer UKATA Asbestos Awareness and Non-Licensed Work within Asbestos courses as well as Fit2Fit Qualitative & Quantitative Face Fit Testing and also provide Train the Tester courses, which upon completion enables you to test others.
Wearing RPE or face masks as they are most commonly known, can help to reduce exposure to any dust, molecules, and harmful substances not just Asbestos.
To find out more call us today on: 01254 665 751.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to help the Mavis Nye Foundation take part in fundraising please contact Mavis or visit: https://www.mavisnyefoundation.com/
If you would like to watch Mavis and Raymond’s story please click the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E23xqzaybAA&pbjreload=101