Despite the drizzly and grey Manchester weather, Helen Bradley and her team attended Manchester Action Mesothelioma Day on Friday 4th July 2014. One of the deadliest forms of cancer, mesothelioma most typically affects the lining of the lungs and is caused by exposure to asbestos, with thousands of new cases diagnosed every single year in the UK. Hundreds of people, including seven Members of Parliament, gathered in Manchester to remember those who have lose their lives to the disease as well as to show their support to those currently suffering from mesothelioma, as well as the family members of those who have lost their lives. In attendance was the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham who pledged that, should Labour be elected at next year’s General Election, their government will prioritise vital medical research into mesothelioma.
The MPs that attended the Manchester Action Mesothelioma Day also paid tribute to the late Paul Goggin MP who campaigned for mesothelioma sufferers. Following the release of doves to commemorate those who have lost their lives to this disease, Lord Alton gave an impassioned speech on the importance of conducting further medical research into mesothelioma at a public meeting in Manchester’s town hall. Lord Alton has been a key advocate for mesothelioma sufferers for many years, and during the meeting he spoke of his determination to pass legislation to ensure a sustainable source of funding – which he says is currently paltry and inadequate – is secured to go towards treatment and perhaps even a cure. He described it as “scandalous” that so many had lost their lives to mesothelioma, despite the consequences of asbestos exposure having been known for decades. Lord Alton also advised that the insurance industry were attempting to reduce their liability in regards to mesothelioma leading to a stall in talks between itself and the British Lung Foundation. He commented that the proposed levy would be a “drop in the ocean” for an industry worth billions of pounds. It has been suggested that the number of people suffering from mesothelioma will continue to increase until 2020 according to research conducted by the British Lung Foundation. However, should an agreement be reached the funding for mesothelioma research could make a huge difference to thousands of people, and their families, in the UK alone. Helen Bradley’s comments “It was incredibly moving to see so many of the families gathered in the rain, carrying pictures of their loved ones lost to this disease and standing up for justice for the sufferers of mesothelioma. Lord Alton’s speech was very emotive and highlighted the importance of joining together and putting pressure on the decision makers so that the insurance industry is required to contribute to the costs of this essential research. The message was universally one of hope so that if we all continue to campaign we can improve the plight of the thousands of people each year who are diagnosed with mesothelioma