Several years ago, Laura Evans of Clydebank, Scotland received devastating news from her doctor that she only had two years to live. Laura had been diagnosed with a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The disease has been associated with asbestos exposure yet Laura has never, to her knowledge, been directly exposed to the material.
Laura told the Clydebank Post that at thirty-two she is now cancer free. However, she said that being told she had two years to live left an indelible scar. Laura is now in therapy and being treated for PTSD. She explains that being told such devastating news destroyed any hope she may have had for survival. Laura describes hearing the doctor’s words repeatedly and hopes that with therapy, the effect will eventually subside.
Laura is among thousands affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-type illnesses. The number of cases in Clydebank is especially high due to the success of the Singer factory and the number of shipyards in the area.
The disease, also known as malignant pleural mesothelioma, causes cancer of the lining of the lungs. Additionally, the stomach lining may be affected. This is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. In both instances, asbestos exposure is usually the cause. Patients are generally made aware that the disease, known as ‘the silent killer’, may take years to develop but can be fatal.
Clydebank, Singer, and Asbestos
Laura is one of the youngest mesothelioma patients. She tells her story in a new book authored by Sam Whyte called ‘Asbestos and Clydebank’. Laura and other mesothelioma patients describe their disease and relate stories about Clydebank as well as its asbestos history. That history begins with the Singer Sewing Machine factory (one of the largest) built in Clydebank in 1882.
A prime example of the extensive use of asbestos is found in the construction of the Queen Elizabeth II which was built in a Clydebank shipyard between 1965 and 1967.
Sam Whyte co-produced the book with the Clydebank Asbestos Group. It is a volunteer association that is celebrating thirty years of supporting asbestos patients. He noted that although the people who contributed their stories may be unique, they are all connected by their asbestos-related illnesses.
Sam admires Laura for speaking about her illness so candidly. She explained that since her illness she can no longer have children. Sam is grateful that others have contributed to the story and hopes the book will spread awareness.