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Local campaigner to fund first ever mesothelioma specialist nurse in North East

Friday, 27 March, 2015
Local campaigner to fund first ever mesothelioma specialist nurse in North East

Local charity the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF) – part of the British Lung Foundation – is to fund the first ever Mesothelioma UK clinical nurse specialist in the North East.

MKMRF, working in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has appointed Leah Taylor to the role. She will be in post for an initial two years and will be available to offer support to people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the North East, one of the worst affected areas in the UK.

Leah, who has had considerable experience caring for patients with mesothelioma during her 20-year nursing career, will treat patients in Northumberland and North Tyneside and work with other regional teams to improve access to support groups, treatments and information. As nurse lead for mesothelioma, she will also be responsible for ensuring mesothelioma issues are raised regionally.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the lung lining caused by exposure to asbestos. It has a very poor prognosis – most patients will die within months of their diagnosis and fewer than one in ten will survive three years. Mesothelioma nurses perform the invaluable role of providing care and guidance to patients, allowing them to have access to specialist care and information about this devastating disease. There are currently only six mesothelioma clinical nurse specialists in the country.

Chris Knighton MBE, founded the MKMRF in memory of her husband, Mick, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2000 at North Tyneside hospital. He died seven months later. At the time there was no information or support.

Leah Taylor, mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist in the North East who is based at North Tyneside General Hospital, said: “Having a mesothelioma 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 am honoured to be a part of this new chapter in mesothelioma care and I look forward to working with Mesothelioma UK, the MKMRF and the British Lung Foundation – to provide the much-needed support for these families.”

Chris Knighton, founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, 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.”