A dad-of-three has told of his shocking diagnosis of mesothelioma when he was just 30 years old - and how he’s determined nothing will stop him from seeing his children grow up.
Liam Bradley, 35, has spent the past five years showing little symptoms of the terminal condition - but is all too aware that could change.
And speaking on Action Mesothelioma Day on 1 July he said for now he considers himself “lucky” compared to some patients.
Historically, those diagnosed with the condition were tradesmen who had worked directly with asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s. However, increasingly, younger people are being diagnosed with the condition who have had a less traditional asbestos exposure.
Liam was diagnosed 10 years after coming into contact with asbestos while working as a roofer.
How did Liam find out he had Mesothelioma?
Liam, from Nottingham, who was diagnosed in 2017, has lived with it for over five years. His case is extremely rare in that he was diagnosed so young. It usually takes between 30 – 50 years for symptoms to develop, yet Liam was diagnosed just 10 years after his exposure to asbestos.
His condition was discovered after he had an accident which resulted in him having a collapsed lung which he needed an operation for.
Speaking of how he came into contact with asbestos, he recalls how he had been working as a roofer and around 2006/2007 he was on a job that involved an old factory.
He said: “My contract manager at the time after we finished blatantly just said, ‘Look, just make sure you wash your hands before you have your dinner because that was asbestos panels’.
“And I mean, that comment always stuck with me. At the same time, I didn’t really think too much about it.”
It was only years later that he found out he had mesothelioma: “Around 2015 I think it was I fell off a three storey building at work. I had to have an operation on on my lung because my lung had collapsed.”
Months after the accident when Liam went to have the operation, his condition was discovered. “That’s where they found the very tiny specks of mesothelioma. I went for a biopsy while they did a biopsy while I was having my operation. And it come back that I was positive.”
Describing the shock of finding out, he said: “Our daughter at the time she was nearly two, so it was like ‘oh my god I’m not gonna watch my daughter grow up’.
“I was only 30 at the time so it was like Jesus Christ. It was like a bit of a kick in the teeth.”
Richard Green, a specialist mesothelioma lawyer at Hugh James solicitors acted on Liam’s behalf in securing a financial settlement, and said for some the decline can be rapid.
He said: “The median survival from the point of diagnosis in nine months for typical symptoms, shortness of breath, where the lungs effectively fill up with fluid. A tumour grows and reduces lung capacity very significantly.
“There’s an awful lot of pain, usually in the chest, but if the tumour grows and spreads, it’s very difficult to control. So there can be sort of general pain throughout the body. Once it takes hold, the decline is very rapid.
He added: “Sadly, Liam’s case is just a snapshot of what’s to come – mesothelioma is a condition which will impact the UK for a number of years to come. We are seeing an increasing number of teachers and nurses who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are coming forward to seek compensation.”
How has it affected his life?
Physically Liam hasn’t been affected and still has no symptoms more than five years on from his diagnosis. He has scans every three months to check his condition.
“I have been stable ever since. I have my scan results about three or four days ago, and that has come back stable, so touch wood it stays like that for a while. I still play football. Physically, it doesn’t affect me one bit.”
Liam, who is married to wife Briony and dad to Nevaeh, Harper and Piper, said the family try to get on with their lives as best as they can, he said:“We try our best to just not let it affect us as a family. Especially as a family. So now, you know we just go about life as normal.”
In 2007 Liam’s grandma passed away from mesothelioma, and he has an understanding of what is to come for him, though he tries not to think about the prognosis: “I’ve got a mindset where I worry about that when that time comes.
“I don’t want to know a prognosis. I don’t, you know, they’re just educated guesses as far as I’m concerned. And so I don’t want to know what people think I’ve got to live or haven’t I don’t really want to know that because I want to enjoy my life not not sit there worrying, ‘oh my God, I’ve only got a year left’.
“So anything negative I worry about it if it happens or when it happens.”
Liam had decided against an operation which would have involved removing the lining of his lung. He has had chemotherapy and has been fit and healthy since his last treatment. “I’ve been stable and fit and healthy ever since. So I like to think I’m a lucky one really considering some patients.”
He adds: “At first the diagnosis was very hard, always wondering if this would be my last Christmas or my last birthday. But as time went on, I basically learnt to stick two fingers up at the cancer.
“Then I became mentally much stronger. The main reason for that is my children – I’m determined that nothing is going to stop me seeing them grow up.”