Work of mesothelioma specialist nurse attracts boost in funding

Asbestos disease charities fund role designed to support military veterans

Asbestos disease charities fund role designed to support military veterans

Helen Wilkes with patient John Myers

A part-time specialist nurse's post, designed to support military veterans living with asbestos-related cancers, has been made full-time.

Mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist Helen Wilkes will now be able to spend more time caring for patients thanks to asbestos disease charity HASAG. It is joining forces with Mesothelioma UK, which already funded her part-time role.  

The additional hours will give Ms Wilkes time to work with fellow mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists, to help develop relationships with veterans and the wider armed forces community.

Service personnel were exposed to asbestos until the 1970s

Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, is linked to asbestos exposure. Some veterans are at risk because military vehicles, ships and buildings contained asbestos up until the 1970s.

More than 2,500 people are diagnosed mesothelioma in the UK every year according to Mesothelioma UK. Currently, eight veterans a month claim war pensions due to a diagnosis of mesothelioma. 

Raising awareness of mesothelioma and its treatments

Ms Wilkes, who is based at the University Hospital Southampton, works for Mesothelioma UK’s helpline and helps local support groups raise awareness of the disease, its treatments and clinical trial opportunities.

Ms Wilkes said: 'Once people have left the armed forces family, they are no longer sure what support is out there for them. When this is compounded by a cancer diagnosis, I'm there to empower them and give them the right support, advice and information.’

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