Understanding the impact of asbestos:

Trevor Parkes’s story

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"You kid yourself. You pretend. Subconsciously you know something's wrong, but you just don't want to believe that so you push it aside and you just get on with things and pretend it's not happening. Unfortunately, with something like this it doesn't take long before very minor symptoms become more pronounced, and it comes to the point where you’re completely debilitated."

— Patricia Parkes, Trevor Parkes's spouse of 37 years

When looking at her life, Patricia Parkes never would have expected that her vocabulary would include words like asbestos, mesothelioma, and cancer. But these words became all too familiar when, in December 2001, her husband Trevor was diagnosed with cancer caused by mesothelioma and asbestos.

The diagnosis came after Trevor had first been to see the doctor a few months earlier because of a sharp pain in his shoulder. That had prompted a chest X-ray and some other tests, which led to the diagnosis. Before that, Patricia had noticed small changes in Trevor's health — signs that crystallized with Trevor’s diagnosis — that he became tired very easily, seemed to lack energy, and had a small cough that never seemed to go away. Looking back, Patricia wishes they'd known sooner what these signs meant, not that it would have saved Trevor but in that it would have given him more time with his family and friends and to put his affairs in order.

True family man

"Trevor was always the life and soul of the party, the one that laughed the loudest," says Patricia of the man with whom she ended up spending 40 years and having two daughters. Calling him "conscientious" in all aspects of his life, she says Trevor was highly regarded by his friends and family, as well as his colleagues at the places he worked — such that his picture still hangs on the wall at the company where he was working as an electrical estimator when he was diagnosed, a company he left in March 2002.

Since Trevor's passing in June 2003, some 15 months after his diagnosis, Patricia says there's not a day goes by that she or her daughters don't think of him or his infectious spirit. For her part, Patricia treasures the time and memories she had with her husband, but expresses regret that he died only a few months before the first of their daughters was married, and that he never had the chance to meet his grandchildren.

If Patricia hopes one thing comes from Trevor's unfortunate experience with asbestos it's that others learn about its severe, health-related impacts, that they take the proper precautions and ask the right questions — whether about on-the-job safety or any unexpected health changes they experience.

"Always be aware of your surroundings and live your life to the fullest," says Patricia, "because you just don’t know when something like this could happen to you."

Trevor Parkes