A 23-year-old woman has developed an asbestos-linked cancer that usually affects elderly males who have worked as builders.
Danielle Smalley faces ‘hot’ chemotherapy that will leave her infertile and the only explanation she can offer for the condition is that she unwittingly ate asbestos when she was a child.
The client relationship manager from Aldershot in Hampshire didn’t even know what the banned heat-resistant substance was until her diagnosis.
Incredibly unlucky: Danielle faces surgery that will leave her infertile despite neither of her alarm-fitting parents knowingly coming into contact with asbestos
‘It’s been such a shock,’ she told the Daily Mirror. ‘I didn’t even know what asbestos was.
‘The type of mesothelioma I have means I’ve ingested it. I could have eaten something at a friend’s house, or in an old shed in the park.
‘It takes 20 years to have an effect, I’d have been two or three when I had it. It’s rare in women, rarer at my age. Usually it’s older men in the building trade.
‘We looked up my primary school, but didn’t find anything. It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out where the asbestos was.
‘I’ve just been incredibly unlucky.’
She faces having her ovaries frozen in one of three similar cases since 2009, with the condition usually affecting male builders aged over 75.
Mother Amanda, 47, and father Simon, 51, who run an alarm-fitting firm, have never knowingly come into contact with the substance, which was banned in 1999.
Doctors at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey discovered tumours behind Danielle’s bowel, after first suspecting irritable bowel syndrome.
Danielle’s organs will be ‘washed’ with heated chemotherapy drugs as she faces surgery to remove the tumours.
Danielle Smalley has been diagnosed with a condition that usually affects men who have worked as builders, leaving her to conclude she unwittingly ate asbestos as a child
She has moved out of her Aldershot home to live with boyfriend Jack in Basingstoke.
‘I’m really scared,’ she said. ‘Am I going to survive? Am I going to be able to have children?
‘Having children isn’t something I thought I’d have to consider at this age. I’m glad I have enough time to freeze my eggs and have that option.
‘My family and my boyfriend have been with my every step. He’s amazing and just says he loves me no matter what.’
There have been just two other cases of the cancer in under-25s since 2009 and more than half of cases hit males over 75.
Cancer Research UK’s Dr Jasmine Just said just five in 100 men survive the cancer for five years or more.