Thanks a million

Chris Knighton at GB Hunter Hospital, Wallsend-she has raised over �1m for Mesothelioma research.

Chris Knighton at GB Hunter Hospital, Wallsend-she has raised over �1m for Mesothelioma research.

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AFTER Mick Knighton died of asbestos-related cancer in 2001, his wife Chris vowed to raise £100,000 in her husband’s name because that was the average amount of compensation paid to mesothelioma sufferers.

But now, ten years after setting up the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, she is celebrating having collected ten times the amount she set out to raise.

“It’s just amazing that we’ve reached £1m, and the fact this is Mick’s tenth anniversary year makes it even more special,” said Chris, of Wallsend.

Mick was diagnosed with mesothelioma after returning from holiday with a chest infection.

Chris said: “We were told there was no treatment, no cure and no hope.” Just eight months later, Mick, pictured, died.

“Throughout Mick’s illness, we had both become increasingly aware of how little is known about mesothelioma and the vital need for more research into the disease,” said Chris.

Mick had been exposed to asbestos while in the Navy. As a gunner, he was issued with anti-inflammable gauntlets and hoods, and the gun turret he manned was lined with asbestos.

“Many of our donations are given by people who themselves have lost loved ones to the disease, and I’m so grateful for their support,” said Chris.

“£1m is fantastic, but it’s what we’ve been able to do with it that’s important.”

So far, the charity has funded four major research studies of mesothelioma, and the Rotary Club of Monkseaton Centenary this week presented Chris with a community service award for her fundraising efforts.

“Our first study was into Alimta, the only licensed chemotherapy drug to help treat the disease,” she said.

“Although not a cure, it may bring a better quality of life for longer to some.

“The next two studies are looking into treating mesothelioma by stem cells. Although in the early stages, the results so far have been encouraging.

“The latest study is a new approach into starving the mesothelioma cells of the nutrients they need to survive.”

The charity has also set up mesothelioma self-help and friendship groups in both North and South Tyneside to give sufferers and their families an opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances.

“My next challenge is to raise enough money to set up the first mesothelioma tissue and blood bank, which will have a major impact on research into the disease,” said Chris.

The fund is holding a memorial service on Friday, July 1, at 11am at St Nicholas’s Cathedral in Newcastle.

Chris said: “The service is for all who have lost their lives to asbestos-related disease, and mesothelioma in particular, and will be followed by a sponsored dove release in their memory.

“The service forms part of Action Mesothelioma Day, an annual event to raise awareness of mesothelioma.”

The service will be followed by a seminar at 1.30pm. To book a place at the seminar or make a donation, call (0191) 263 7386 or e-mail c.knighton@mkmrf.org.uk

To learn more about mesothelioma or the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, visit www.mickknightonmesorf.org