Chris Knighton has raised over £1million for Mesothelioma research in memory of her husband Mick Knighton. The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF) – part of the British Lung Foundation has now raised enough funds to appoint a specialist nurse to deal specifically with the North East’s victims of mesothelioma.

Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland are all among the top 20 places in the UK worst hit by cases of the disease. The region has historically been associated with the shipbuilding industry which extensively used asbestos in the manufacturing process.

Nurse Leah Taylor will be available to offer support to people diagnosed with the life threatening respiratory condition. With considerable experience caring for patients with mesothelioma during her 20-year nursing career, Leah will treat patients in Northumberland and North Tyneside and work with other regional teams to improve access to support groups, treatments and information.

There are currently only six mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists in the country.

Leah Taylor, who is based at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “Having a nurse specialist for people affected by this terrible disease in the North East has the potential to significantly transform the care people receive here.

“For many people the prognosis is very poor however with the right support, care and access to information about new research and treatments, quality of life for people diagnosed with this disease and their families can be greatly improved.

“I’m honoured to be a part of this new chapter in mesothelioma care and I look forward to working with Mesothelioma UK to provide the much-needed support for these families.”

The North East possesses one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, largely because the UK’s permitted the use of asbestos long after other countries outlawed the mineral’s use.

The cause of the disease is linked to the exposure to asbestos, and shipbuilding featured hundreds of asbestos products used for insulation, including those vessels used in the British Armed Forces. The material was considered ideal for use aboard ships until the 1980s.

Chris said: “I realised the desperate need for more support for people with mesothelioma after Mick was diagnosed in 2000. We had no idea what this cancer was, we were simply told he had six months to live and to go and spend quality time together.

“Having a mesothelioma nurse available means that other families won’t have to go through what we did. We still have a long way to go in terms of improving mesothelioma care in this country but I see this as a significant victory for patients in the North East and I know that Mick would be so proud.”

If you or a family member have been affected my mesothelioma, please contact us on 0800 294 3065 where we can help, support and advise you in the best way possible.