Leeds woman diagnosed with terminal asbestos-related cancer appeals to DWP colleagues for help

A Leeds woman diagnosed with terminal asbestos-related cancer is appealing for information on how she may have been exposed to the hazardous substance.

By Abbey Maclure
Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 11:40 am
The woman is looking to find colleagues who worked with her at the DWP office in Lawnswood between 1994 and 2013 (Photo: Chris Young/PA Wire)

The former government worker, who does not wish to be named, began to suffer from shortness of breath just after Christmas 2019.

She developed a persistent cough and was referred for a chest X-ray and CT scan, before fluid was drained from her lungs.

A week later, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.

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She has made the heartbreaking decision not to undergo chemotherapy, which would not cure her from the disease.

The woman said: "Being diagnosed with cancer was a huge shock, particularly given that I wasn’t too unwell at first and thought I just had a cold.

“It’s been very difficult to accept what I am going through, and my family are also finding it hard to come to terms with what the future is likely to hold for us.

“My condition has deteriorated over the past year, and I have discussed treatments with my consultant but I don’t want to undergo anything that will make me feel more poorly and spoil the quality of life I have left.

"I have been told that chemotherapy will not cure me so I choose not to have it.

“I can’t turn back the clock and change what has happened, but finding out that my cancer was down to asbestos exposure has left me desperately wanting answers as to where I could have come into contact with it."

The woman is now looking to find colleagues who worked with her at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) office in Lawnswood between 1994 and 2013 to establish how she may have been exposed to asbestos.

She said: “I believe it could have been when I was working close to maintenance men, and I would really appreciate it if anyone who worked with me at the Lawnswood offices could help shed some light on the working conditions there and whether asbestos was present.

"Any detail could help me and my family get the answers we deserve.”

The woman has brought a personal injury claim to the Department of Work and Pensions, who have said the health and safety of their staff is "paramount".

Lawyers Irwin Mitchell, who are representing the woman, are appealing for anyone who worked with her at the office to contact them.

Oliver Collett, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at the firm, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for our client and her loved ones.

“Through our work, we come across many families facing uncertain futures as a result of exposure to asbestos which has often occurred several decades prior to diagnosis.

"Many people often associate asbestos with heavy industry but its use was widespread in many public buildings including schools, hospitals and offices.

“While we can’t change what our client is going through, we are determined to help provide her and her family with the answers they seek regarding her illness.

"We would therefore be grateful for information from anyone that may have worked for the Department of Work and Pensions in Leeds.

“Any detail, no matter how small, could prove vital in our investigation and providing our client with the answers she deserves before it’s too late.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our colleagues is paramount.

“We are aware of a Personal Injury claim that is currently ongoing however it would be inappropriate for us to comment on a live case.”

Anyone with information that may assist with the case is asked to contact Oliver Collett on 0113 3946784 or email [email protected]

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