Helen Bone, from Middlesbrough, was just 38 when she was diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
Ms Bone, now 40, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2021 after she started suffering from pain in her abdomen.
The mum-of-three started chemotherapy in September 2021 to shrink the cancer, and has since been referred into a trial called MiST (5), which aims to find out if certain targeted drugs can treat mesothelioma that continues to grow or come back after chemotherapy.
The former advanced critical care practitioner has turned to Thompsons Solicitors – the law firm which brought the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords 50 years ago – to support her with a claim for compensation.
Thompsons Solicitors is investigating whether asbestos was present at the Brambles Primary School, Keldholme Secondary School and Teesside Tertiary College for Health and Social Care, where she studied as a child. The firm is also seeking to understand whether asbestos was present at the former Middlesbrough General Hospital and the James Cook University Hospital, where Helen has worked since she was 17.
Ms Bone said: “I absolutely loved my job. I studied hard and worked in my dream career – knowing I will never return to that is really hard to come to terms with.
“As a mother of two teenage daughters and a younger stepdaughter, this diagnosis has been devastating. You always think of asbestos as a disease from decades ago – affecting men who worked in heavy industry – so to be diagnosed in my 30s is shocking.
“Naturally I want to see my children grow up but now I have to come to terms with the thought that this might not happen.”
Helen Bone has set up her own blog called ‘It is what it is’ to document her journey following a mesothelioma diagnosis, in hope that it will be comforting for her children to read back on. She also uses it as a platform to help raise awareness of more young people and women like herself having an asbestos disease.
Charlie Bradley, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “I have worked on asbestos disease cases for over nine years, and never have I come across such a tragic case where a woman as young as Helen has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
“She has not been on construction sites, or worked in the shipyard, but has simply gone to school as a child and worked in a healthcare environment as an adult, yet this has led her to have an incurable asbestos cancer.
“I would urge anyone who worked with, or who went to school with Helen, and can corroborate that asbestos was present in these areas, to contact us as soon as possible.
“Helen’s case acts as a reminder that just because asbestos use was banned in 1999, the impact of the substance is far from a thing of the past. Those responsible need to increase their efforts for the proper identification, containment and removal of all asbestos in buildings across the UK.”