Mayor Rex Barnett of Swindon, UK has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. According to the Swindon Advertiser, Mayor Barnett was just completing his term in office when doctors diagnosed him with the rare cancer. Caused by asbestos, Mayor Barnett most likely began developing the disease during his employment on the British Railway works, where he repaired machinery and equipment for a stint of eight years. Unfortunately, at the time of his railway employment, during the 1950s and 1960s, asbestos was used in the raw for these repairs and employees were allegedly not provided protective gear.
The area of Swindon has seen many cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, all considered to have been caused by the heavy railway work in the area. Mesothelioma has been nicknamed ‘Swindon disease” because of it’s prevalence amongst past Swindon area workers.
Mayor Barnett is known for the large funds he raised for several charitable organizations during his time in office. Much sympathy and concern has been expressed by the public in response to his unfortunate news.
Although Mayor Barnett recognizes the fatal characteristics of mesothelioma, he has not lost hope. “It is incurable but we are going to try to slow it down,” he said. With chemotherapy suggested for his care, Mayor Barnett had decided to begin mesothelioma treatment sooner rather than later, even though he is in the very last weeks of his term. “I think every day I fight it, the better off I will be – if I said I will do my final bit as mayor and the handover properly, I’m wasting my chances.”
Mesothelioma cases have become one of UK’s leading work-related death causes. Caused by exposure to toxic asbestos fibers, mesothelioma begins developing in protective lining of internal organs, most often the lungs. Malignant tumors grow through the affected areas spreading in an irregular web like pattern without demonstrating external symptoms. Mesothelioma is characterized by latency periods often ranging from twenty to fifty years.
Asbestos was heavily used through the 1900s in the UK as well as US, Australia, Japan and other countries with leading industrial markets. Commonly used in insulation, shipbuilding, munitions manufacturing and military equipment, thousands of people worldwide were being exposed to toxic fibers before associated health threats were known. Once regulations began to take shape and be mandated in workplaces, thousands of mesothelioma cases were already silently developing.
Once symptoms do demonstrate in mesothelioma victims, they mimic those of bronchitis or pneumonia, making the disease difficult to diagnose. Following proper diagnosis, patient life expectancy ranges from just six months to two years. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.