Great-gran joins service in Leicester to highlight asbestos-related cancer

A great-grandmother suffering from asbestos-related cancer was those gathered for a special service at Leicester Cathedral yesterday. Four white doves were released at the event, held to raise awareness of mesothelioma. Similar events were held across the country to mark national Mesothelioma Day. Glenda Stretton, 72, from Kirby Muxloe, was diagnosed with the disease four years ago. She was devastated by the diagnosis, particularly as she had always looked after her health. Mrs Stretton has had a major operation to strip out the lining of her lungs and also undergone radio and chemotherapy treatments. Mrs Stretton, who has five children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, said: “It was a complete shock. I couldn’t believe it at first when they said cancer. I had never smoked and always taken care of my health. “When the doctors said it was incurable it was an added blow.” The only time she thinks she could have come into contact with asbestos is when her eldest son was a roofing apprentice in the construction industry. She said: “He handled asbestos every day and I suppose the fibres were on his clothes, which I used to wash. I was only doing the things you do as a mum when your children are at home.” Mrs Stretton, who used to work at a shop at Fosse Park, said she wanted to attend the service to help raise awareness of the disease. “I am very lucky to have the support of a wonderful family and friends,” she said. “All the hospital staff have also been absolutely marvellous.” Mrs Stretton’s daughter, Sam, added: “Mum has been wonderful throughout all this.” Mrs Stretton is one of about 30 patients a year being treated for mesothelioma at Glenfield Hospital. Liz Darlison is founder of the national charity Mesothelioma UK, based at Glenfield Hospital, and one of just four specialist nurses for the cancer nationwide. She said: “Even the smallest exposure, one fibre of asbestos, can cause this cancer, which makes it even more tragic. “This day is so important to raise awareness.” Leicester’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Colin Hall, attended the event at the cathedral. He described mesothelioma as “the Cinderella cancer” and added: “I recognise the work the council needs to do to promote recognition and to help Mesothelioma UK.” It is the fifth annual mesothelioma event which has been organised by Lynda Thornton, from Countesthorpe. Her husband, Roger, who was a plumber in the 1960s, died from cancer in 2004. She said: “There is still a lot of asbestos out there but people still don’t think this is the sort of thing that is going to happen to them.” To find out more about mesothelioma call 0800 169 2409, or go to: www.mesothelioma.uk