Christine’s story: A lifetime dedicated to helping others with their health

“The process itself was very easy, almost the opposite of what we thought it was going to be like. The solicitors are specialists in this area, and were both informative and communicative.”

During her working life, Christine Seymour from Addlestone, Surrey worked in various NHS pathology labs, testing samples and also spent time as a VSO volunteer in Pakistan. Later, she worked locally as a doctor’s receptionist for 25 years.

Outside of work, alongside her husband, who is a vicar, Christine dedicated much of her life volunteering and helping other people within the community.

In October 2020, she was told by doctors that she had contracted mesothelioma.

Christine’s daughter, Julie says that it was “a complete shock when she was diagnosed. Not in a million years did we think about the disease. We didn’t believe that she had worked in what was then regarded as a ‘stereotypical’ workplace where she could even get exposed to asbestos.”

Although, at the time, she was given a ‘best case scenario’ of 12 months, Christine sadly died five months later, aged 74.

Julie continues: “My mum loved her job working in pathology labs and often spoke of her time there with great fondness. Later, working as a doctor’s receptionist, she was able to use her medical knowledge, and her kind nature, to continue a happy career until she retired a few years before she died.

“She was an amazing person; always busy helping others and was an active member of her local church. Her faith really helped her to cope after her diagnosis.

“She was also an ardent supporter of Fairtrade and worked as a rep for Traidcraft for more than 30 years.

“We miss her so much and she has a left a large hole in both our family and local community.”

Making the decision to pursue a civil claim

After Christine was diagnosed, the family spoke to HASAG, a charity dedicated to helping people suffering from asbestos-related diseases and their families. Information was passed to them with regards to pursuing a civil claim against Christine’s employer.

Speaking to her solicitors, Fieldfisher, Christine described the pathology lab at Charing Cross Hospital as an old converted restaurant, separate to the hospital, with cladding up the walls. She believed that she was exposed to asbestos working there, inhaling the dust as the mats burnt during her experiments with the Bunsen burners.

Despite a thorough investigation, not enough evidence could be gathered to progress with the claim.

Talking about making the claim, Julie says: “We decided as a family to go ahead with the claim to seek some answers about how mum was exposed and possible justice to ensure accountability was acknowledged.

“The process itself was very easy, almost the opposite of what we thought it was going to be like. The solicitors are specialists in this area, and were both informative and communicative.

“Our claim was unsuccessful but I would say to other families considering a claim, don’t leave it until it’s too late. By the time that it came to Mum making a statement, it was almost too late and she passed away shortly after. Also, be prepared as if you don’t get a positive outcome, you mustn’t rely receiving on any compensation.”

Support networks are vital

Julie continues: “Mesothelioma affects the whole family in different ways. Mum counted her blessings and was very lucky because she had her family and friends around to support her.

“She believed in taking each day as it came as her symptoms were different each day, with good days and bad days.

“Although we initially made contact with HASAG and Mesothelioma UK, both of whom were so helpful, Mum didn’t feel the need to talk to support groups and only received support from her cancer nurses and the hospice workers.

“However, I still believe that support networks, including charities such as Mesothelioma UK and HASAG, are vital to every mesothelioma patient. It’s brilliant that they’re out there and available to help patients and their families.”

Christine’s story also highlights how close the relationship is between Mesothelioma UK and its partners such as HASAG. HASAG has been tremendously supportive and generously funded several nurse posts for many years. The partnership runs very deep – on a day to day basis, the charities liaise with one another and work together to ensure that people living with mesothelioma have access to the very best care and support. It is a privilege to work together.

*Mesothelioma UK would like to acknowledge a previous feature on Christine’s story, produced by legal firm, Fieldfisher, where some of the information above was originally included.

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Disclaimer: These stories are based on personal experience and do not constitute medical advice. We recommend you speak to your healthcare team or phone our support line if you have any questions relating to your care or treatment.