David Phillips was diagnosed with mesothelioma four years ago, and at the time had no idea how he may have contracted the disease. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer are retired contract workers or military veterans who developed the disease as a result of asbestos exposure.
Phillips, however, worked as a travel agent and was never aware of working in close proximity to the dangerous substance. The only exception took place in the 70s, when he cleaned out a storage cupboard and ended up being covered in dust that may have contained asbestos fibers.
Once retired, he was diagnosed after suffering a panic attack and experiencing trouble breathing.
“We went out for a meal with some friends, I had a panic attack. They bundled me into a car and took me to [the hospital],” said Phillips. “One of the first questions I was asked was ‘Had I ever worked with asbestos?”
Asbestos is a very dangerous building material that was used in building construction until the 70s. Once disturbed, its needle-like particles become airborne and can embed themselves into the lungs if they are inhaled. Eventually (over a period of decades), this inflammation in can lead to cancer. As it stands, nearly all cases of mesothelioma are associated with asbestos exposure.
Phillips has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy in an attempt to keep the cancer from spreading or getting worse, but now doctors are telling him and nothing else can be done. Doctors were able to remove the tumor, which worked as a temporary solution – Phillips was well for three years. Now, the cancer has returned has spread from the left lung to the right lung.
There is no cure for mesothelioma. As the cancer has progressed, Phillips has lost his ability to walk long distances and garden. He is grateful however for the time he has had.
“Initially they gave me 12 to 15 months, so I am pretty happy with what I have got.” he said.
Despite his condition, Phillips is doing is best to raise awareness about this dangerous disease. Last year, he jumped 1,400 feet from a plane in order to raise money for Mesothelioma UK. Phillips says that he wants to see more people take a stand and put funding towards treating the rare disease.