Spreading Awareness Until the End
- An Australian woman named Gillian North, 61, died last week from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.
- The wife, mother, and professor recorded a video from bed just days before her death in a final plea for anyone listening to get more environmentally aware.
- Mesothelioma is cancer of the thin tissue that lines the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen.
- Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring minerals, and people exposed to it face health risks, namely cancer.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the thin tissue that lines the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen. Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring minerals. People exposed to it face health risks, namely cancer.Read More
In a commendable effort to make a difference until her last days, she recorded a video from bed just days before her death in a final plea for people to get more environmentally aware.
North, who was a professor and previously worked as a corporate lawyer, had her husband Martin North and twin sister Jocelyn Johnson by her side when she passed.
“Half of my heart has gone with her,” Johnson expressed to Daily Mail Australia. North had been “incredibly positive” to the end and had not diminished her efforts in trying to wake people up to this environmental danger. “I’m incredibly sad and gutted to lose her,” she added. “She was the gutsiest, most courageous woman. I admired her ability to stay positive instead of focusing on herself.”
Despite North’s tragic loss, he was proud to share the “amazing” 27 years that he did get to have with his late wife. “She was a remarkable person in so many ways: very driven, very energetic and also amazing sense of social justice, which came through in her legal work.”
North would give anything to have more time with his love. “I’m shattered but determined to keep her legacy and her fight alive.”
Doug Wednt, who lost his wife to ovarian cancer, shares his experience of trying to move forward after losing a spouse to cancer.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a known carcinogen. It was widely used in commercial products in the U.S. until the 1970s, when reports linked it to cancers like mesothelioma.
Per the Daily Mail Australia article, asbestos is found in up to 80 percent of old homes in Australia. Millions of homes in the Unites States also still contain asbestos, reportedly more than half.
Asbestos has been in the news often lately because of proposed new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that may allow the chemical to be used in manufacturing again, which is naturally causing massive concern.
Mesothelioma: One of the Deadliest Cancers
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and often times the disease will go misdiagnosed for months, according to leading experts.
Dr. Joseph Friedberg, a thoracic surgeon, explains the link between asbestos and mesothelioma.
Dr. Joseph Friedberg, Head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said mesothelioma’s survival rate is generally no longer than one to two years, and while it is one of the deadliest cancers, it’s also rare.
“So maybe a few thousand cases a year in the United States,” Dr. Friedberg told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation. “It’s the cancer which is—the overwhelming majority of the time–is caused by asbestos.”
The most common presenting symptom for mesothelioma patients is shortness of breath. “Most often, they’ll get diagnosed as having a pneumonia or something else because someone listens to them, they have decreased breath sounds, they get treated,” Dr. Friedberg said. “So because it’s such a rare cancer, it is often misdiagnosed for several months.”
Whether or not a cancer is more common or rare, it is still imperative to be aware of the causes and symptoms of these diseases. The more informed you are the more you can focus on prevention and always immediately get checked if symptoms persist for more than a couple weeks.