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Six Men Whose Futures Would Be Changed

Six Men Whose Futures Would Be Changed. Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), December 6, 2005

Bill Short, 74, was left desperately ill after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma.

Doctors at North Tyneside Hospital advised he should receive Alimta.

But after discovering the drug was not available on the NHS, he launched legal proceedings against his primary care trust to get the treatment.

Widower Mr Short, of King's Road, Wallsend, lost his wife Rita aged 59 to breast cancer in 1989.

He believes he came into contact with asbestos while working at Blyth Power Station.

His daughter Susan Reay said: "We are 100% behind the Chronicle's campaign."

Arthur Tiffin, 52, from Walbottle in Newcastle, has only months to live after being struck down by lung cancer mesothelioma.

He trained as a pipefitter with a Jesmond engineering firm and then worked with asbestos all his life.

He now faces paying pounds 24,000 to receive the drug at the Nuffield Hospital.

But he is fighting to get it for free before his son is married in February.

Arthur said paying for the drug means losing his live savings, which he had hoped would keep his wife Cora and two children safe after his death.

He said that he will fight until his death to make the drug available for North East sufferers.

David Gavin, 54, of Felling in Gateshead, worked in shipyards on Tyneside all his life.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August and at the time he was told he had only six months left to live.

He has now been forced to move to Liverpool to receive the drug on the NHS.

He is living with his sister and has had two treatments with the drug.

He is now able to walk further than he could two months ago and says he feels great.

Robert McLaren, 67, of Salcombe Avenue in Jarrow, is a former shipyard joiner.

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma two years ago.

He has had two sessions of Alimta privately at South Tyneside Hospital.

But he could face paying up to pounds 10,000 for the medication.

The father of two said the drug has helped improve his breathing.

He said he would be in a much worse condition if he was not taking it.

Robert will receive his third dose of Alimta in December.

He said he has had no side effects and it is helping him to live his life.

Keen gardener Stan Easton, 69, of Deneham Street, North Shields, worked as a pipefitter in Tyneside's shipyards.

He has waited six weeks to find out if doctors at North Tyneside Hospital will give him Alimta.

He has been told by three doctors he needs the drug but faces paying for it out of his own pocket.

His lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, are attempting to get a fast track compensation payment to cover the costs of the medication. He will find out next week if he will start Alimta treatment before Christmas.

Thomas Lawther, 79, from Washington was told Alimta was not available on the NHS for him.

Instead he has undergone a different chemotherapy treatment and doctors are now monitoring his condition.

Thomas said he was exposed to asbestos when he worked as a bricklayer for Watsons of Washington and at a papermill in South Hylton.

He knows he will die of mesothelioma soon and says he is just playing a waiting game.

Thomas said he is attending Royal Sunderland Hospital every two months. He said they are looking after him but if he was given the chance to take Alimta he would.