Roughton retired nurse diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer calls for helps from former colleagues

Retired nurse Gina Smith, 60, of Roughton is appealing for help from her former colleagues because s

Retired nurse Gina Smith, 60, of Roughton is appealing for help from her former colleagues because she believes the cancer she has developed from asbestos in the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and West Norwich. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A retired nurse is calling for help from her former colleagues after she was given the tragic news she had an incurable cancer related to asbestos.

Gina Smith, 60, of Roughton, was diagnosed with the disease last December after suffering with shortness of breath and symptoms similar to those of her asthma.

She was told she could expect to live anything from 18 months to two years but the grandmother is determined to complete her 'bucket list' and help prevent further devastating cases.

Mrs Smith, who has the cancer called Mesothelioma, believed she was exposed to asbestos while doing her nursing training at the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and West Norwich Hospital- where she lived and worked for six months in 1975.

At the N&N she would regularly walk down a corridor where she claimed pipework, believed to be lagged with asbestos, was in a poor state of repair.

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She is now working with specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to try and trace anyone who is able to support her claim.

'I don't want people to worry unnecessarily but to be aware that they might be at risk,' said the mother of two.

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'I want the message out there to prevent this happening to others- then it will be worth it.'

Mrs Smith, who said her colleagues knew about asbestos but assumed the hospital was safe, added she wanted to raise awareness about being exposed to the deadly dust.

'I have got fantastic friends and family who support me. What angers me is the fact that it shouldn't happen and that it's still out there,' she said.

A NNUH spokesperson said they were 'saddened to hear of Georgina Smith's diagnosis as a former valued employee of the Trust' but confirmed they had not received enquiries from Mrs Smith or her lawyers.

Despite the difficult news, Mrs Smith, whose daughter is a cardiac nurse and the NNUH, said she couldn't fault her care: 'The treatment I have had in all departments has been top notch. I can't put that forward enough. The cancer unit in Norwich is one of the best in the country. You can't beat the Norfolk and Norwich.'

Although there is not yet a cure for her cancer, Mrs Smith underwent chemotherapy and operations to improve her quality of life.

She said the longest patient she knew to have lived with her type of cancer survived for seven years and added she believed a person's chances depended on the individual and the treatment.

Mrs Smith, who has two young grand children, said: 'I don't want to die but I am quite at peace about it. In many ways I am having a better quality of life because rather than putting off the good things, time is not on my side so therefore I am doing my bucket list now.'

It includes returning to Italy to tour the country and visit Venice.

One thing she regretted was having to give up the job she loved as a support worker for adults with learning difficulties.

Mrs Smith, whose husband and son are plasterers, said: 'It's a job I just love. I have been in the care sector one way or another since I left school.'

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