A great-grandfather suffering from an incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure four decades ago has undergone pioneering surgery which could extend his life.
David Nurse, 77, from Halifax, was diagnosed with mesothelioma two years ago – he was given just seven months to live.
Unwilling to take the news lying down, David began researching the disease with his wife Jane and the pair came across a centre of excellence specialising in the condition – Glenfield Hospital in Leicestershire.
Less than a month after diagnosis, a specialist at the hospital agreed David was fit enough to undergo radical surgery known as an extended pleurecotomy and decortication.
The operation included surgeons scraping the ‘visible disease’ from David’s chest wall and left lung, as well as replacing some of his diaphragm.
Speaking on The Case Files podcast, a series exploring stories of people who have gone through the civil justice system, David said: “The doctors didn’t sugar coat it, I knew there were no guarantees, but after being told I only had months to live they gave me back some hope.
“Not everyone will be suitable for the surgery that I had but they should at least be given the information. If we had just accepted the diagnosis and hadn’t researched it then I wouldn’t be here now.”
David, who has three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, underwent a second operation at the start of the year and began chemotherapy in March.
He was referred to Clatterbridge Hospital in Liverpool after a subsequent scan showed the disease had spread further – but treatment with a promising immunotherapy drug has brought signs of tumour shrinkage, delighting the family.
Since diagnosis, David has traced his asbestos exposure back to the 1980s when he ran a hotel in Lincolnshire.
He recalls coming into daily contact with asbestos which lined walls and lagged pipes in the cellar and boiler room.
David has since taken legal action against his former employer and settled for a five-figure package, most of which has gone to funding his immunotherapy treatment.
His solicitor Madelene Holdsworth, an asbestos disease specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “Employers were or should have been well aware of the risks of asbestos in the 1980s, but so many ignored it and put their employees at risk.
“The nature of asbestos-related illnesses means they can lie dormant in the body for decades before sufferers realise. Only now, years later, are people like David realising the consequences.”
The initial procedure undergone by David has since become the focus of a new trial known as ‘Mars 2’.
It aims to discover whether chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy and surgery combined, are most effective at treating mesothelioma.
To listen to The Case Files podcast featuring David and Jane, click this link.