Danielle Smalley had never even heard of asbestos, let along malignant mesothelioma. The 23-year-old client relationship manager from Aldershot in Hampshire in the United Kingdom was born just a few years before asbestos use was banned in her country, and her parents never suspected that their child would be exposed to the toxic material while playing in a local park. But that is apparently what happened, as the young woman was recently diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of cancer that has left her with a difficult road ahead and an uncertain future.
Mesothelioma is generally a condition that is diagnosed in older people – the average age at diagnosis is 75, and most patients are men who have been exposed to asbestos either through their jobs or while serving in the military. Her physicians were astounded to find mesothelioma tumors behind her bowel, as they had been expecting to find that the young woman had irritable bowel syndrome.
Danielle and her parents are not certain as to where her exposure came from. Her parents have no known exposure to the material, and the family has investigated her childhood surroundings, with little luck. “We looked up my primary school, but didn’t find anything,” she says. “It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out where the asbestos was. I’ve just been incredibly unlucky.” Her parents have suggested that the asbestos may have been stored or used as insulation in a shed in a nearby park where Danielle played as a child.
Though malignant mesothelioma is considered a fatal disease, Danielle’s young age makes her prognosis less certain. The protocol that she is undergoing involves both surgical removal of her cancerous tumors and having a heated solution of chemotherapy poured into the surgical site in her abdomen. To preserve her fertility, her physicians plan on removing her ovaries and freezing them.
If you or someone you love is facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, you know the uncertainty, pain and fear that Danielle and her family are facing. For information about resources and legal help available to you, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.