From the moment she had her diagnosis in November 2012 – where she found out she had a terminal illness – to when she passed away and had to leave behind her much loved family, my wife Sandra was so brave. It was quite incredible.
Don’t get me wrong, she had her moments, who wouldn’t knowing that one day she would have to leave her two wonderful children and all of her family.
Sandra’s biggest regret was that she would not see Jack and Zoe grow up, marry and to not see any grandchildren was so upsetting for her. It was awful to watch her despair and feel her heart wrenching pain.
The fact that Sandra had a form of cancer, which was asbestos related, and how she would have come into contact with such a killer at her school – where asbestos was such a big factor in the school buildings – was quite unbearable, knowing it could have been avoided if certain measures had taken place to properly protect the pupils at Caldervale School in Airdrie.
Sandra’s memory of Caldervale was quite astonishing. The detailed description of each area within the school, this was reinforced when we eventually saw the actual school buildings plans from the freedom of information.
Her memories of workmen in the school carrying out constant work, the partitioning using plastic sheeting to try and direct pupils away from the work process in place. A number of pupils who have come forward also remember the works being carried out almost on a daily basis.
Sandra’s illness came with unbelievable pain. Some mesothelioma patients can go without much pain but Sandra’s was so bad. I can’t even start to tell you what she had to endure and for us to watch it and be there for her throughout was beyond any words I can ever describe.
Even the morphine and all the pain killers they threw at her did not take away the pain. Eventually she had to be at St Wilfrid’s Hospice practically full time so they could look after her and try and manage the pain.
Our entire family will never really get over the loss of Sandra; she was too young to die at the age of 52. She was about to start her life with Jack and Zoe working and leaving home and for us, after many years of working hard, to actually enjoy some time together. But this was all taken away from us.
We miss her so much. Both Jack and Zoe were very close to their Mum. Sandra’s sister Jill was a great support also throughout the illness and afterwards. In some ways she has taken over the mantle from Sandra as the kids Mum and someone they can just talk to as well as myself.
The Clydeside Action on Asbestos petition is a great campaign and will hopefully be the start of developing awareness for all schools that have asbestos in them and the potential dangers that this can bring to pupils and teachers alike.
I fully support this campaign and will do all I can as Sandra’s legacy in helping other young children so they don’t have to face the same fate as Sandra.