Monday, October 15, 2007

Mesothelioma sufferer pioneers new hope

Leigh Carlisle, a 27-year-old cancer sufferer who is pioneering new treatment for a deadly asbestos-related form of the illness, mesothelioma, is beginning to beat the disease.

Leigh, who is believed to be the country’s youngest sufferer, has been taking part in clinical trials at Manchester’s Christie Hospital.

Leigh may have contracted the disease after she took a short-cut through a Failsworth factory yard, where asbestos was cut, when she was a schoolgirl.

She may also have breathed in the fibres from clothes of a relative who worked there.

Leigh was diagnosed with the condition, which affects her abdomen, in 2006.

Her treatment includes a drug which knocks out a tumour’s resistance so chemotherapy has a better chance of working.

To Leigh’s delight, doctors told her last week that her lungs and stomach are clear of cancer cells, her lymph nodes have returned to near-normal and the tumours in her abdomen have broken down significantly.

Leigh said: "I was overjoyed at being told there had finally been a breakthrough with my clinical trial for Mesothelioma. I have been scared and often faced doubted that treatment wouldn't prove effective, but my consultant and nursing team at 'The Christie' always provided optimism and great support. I know I have some way to go, but the news on my progress is fantastic and I'm looking forward to getting my energy back during my break from treatment now!"

Leigh's solicitor, Geraldine Coombs, said to Rochdale Online: "I am really pleased for Leigh that she has had such good news about her cancer treatment. The results of the trial sound very exciting. Mesothelioma does not usually respond well to treatment and the trial may give hope to others suffering with mesothelioma. 2,000 people every year in this country are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

"Leigh has been through a very hard time with this illness. Despite that she has been working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos and raising money for cancer charities which is a great credit to her and does not surprise me having got to know Leigh.

"Asbestos is not a problem that is ‘in the past.’ People are still coming into contact with asbestos today around the world. The campaign in Rochdale to push for the risks of environmental contamination by asbestos is very important."

Save Spodden Valley spokesman Jason Addy commented: "I met Leigh earlier this year. She is an incredible person with a positive outlook on life. To contract this illness at such a young age is a particularly cruel blow. I am sure many will join in our prayers and best wishes for her health.

"It is a stark reminder of how low levels of exposure to asbestos fibre may be so dangerous. That is why it is important that safe, open and accountable decisions are made about the former TBA site.

"Mesothelioma takes decades after exposure to asbestos before its symptoms are presented.

"The late Abdul Chowdry, T&N's former Health & Safety manager, suggested on Radio 4 that disturbing soil on the TBA site could 'unearth a monster'. That certainly was an emotive choice of language from the then serving UK Health and Safety Commissioner.

"As the Independent Atkins Report has acknowledged, there is huge potential for gross contamination of the site.

"We all owe a debt to future generations of Rochdalians to ensure that the Spodden Valley becomes a safe amenity for all.

"When you see Leigh and read about what she has faced this year, it really does bring it home to everyone in Rochdale how important it is to get things right in Spodden Valley."


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