Mesothelioma Caregiver Recounts Her Husband’s Experiences

Pete O.

Yvonne O. lost her husband, Pete, back in August to mesothelioma. We would like to thank her for reaching out to us through our Facebook to share her experiences and to all those affected by mesothelioma that continue to reach out to the community. We are withholding her last name over privacy concerns. If you are interested in more information about mesothelioma and support please feel free to reach out to one of our Patient Advocates or you can find The Mesothelioma Center on Twitter.

What were the events that led up to Pete’s diagnosis?

Pete had breathing difficulties in July 2007, and went into the hospital for a decortication, removal of the plural lining. He was told he was fine 6 weeks after, and then discharged. The histology results from the samples taken from the operation came through and gave a positive diagnosis of mesothelioma.

When was he diagnosed?

17th October 2007

What were your biggest questions after Pete was diagnosed?

Is it curable? Is there any treatment? How long will Pete have left to live? He was given 6 months to2 years.

Was Pete’s mesothelioma caused by asbestos? If so, can you remember him coming into contact with asbestos?

Yes it was caused by asbestos. Possible from either an asbestos roof, when stacking tea chests or from brake linings, when doing maintenance on cars.

Where did you turn to for information?

The internet was great for information, not sure how we would have got as much without that. We did not use Facebook for information, only for finding people in the same situation. We made friends with a couple who have also been affected.

What was your reaction to hearing Pete’s diagnosis was cancer?

Why Pete? He had done nothing to harm anyone. Obviously only the good die early. We had only been together for 6 years, starting out on our life together. We should have had 30 years together, we only got 10.

How was adjusting to the role of a caregiver?

Easy, I loved my husband and would do anything for him.

What are some of the challenges in caring for a mesothelioma patient?

He had trouble talking, and got very frustrated. This was difficult as he wouldn’t speak to those who visited and wanted to know how he was doing. He had very dark moments and got angry with me, he didn’t mean it.

Where did you turn for care giving resources?

Mesothelioma Support MacMillan Logo

Just managed on my own and towards the end the Macmillan Nurses were great.

What has been your family’s reaction?

Devastation. What will I do without Pete? We were so good together. We loved each other so much. Our life together has only just started.

What treatment options was Pete offered and what did you two choose to do?

Chemo and radio therapy.

Did you travel to a specialty center?

No, used local hospitals. Don’t think there are any in the UK.

What type of support groups did you find helped?

We did not know of any.

What message would you like to send to the mesothelioma community? (Newly diagnosed or survivors?)

Keep positive, get medical assistance and fight it all the way. Go to www.livingwithmesothelioma.co.uk to buy the book, proceeds go to charity, to fight this awful disease and find a cure. It will give you an insight on Pete’s battle and the treatment he had; he went 4 years, when given 6 months.


Ben Leer is an outreach coordinator with The Mesothelioma Center. He works toward increasing education and awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Part of Ben’s job is to reach out and engage with patients, caregivers and family members on our online communities.

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