Gateshead Grandad-Of-Eight Living With Asbestos Cancer Gears Up To Take Part In His 42nd Great North Run
Ron Snaith, from Ryton, Gateshead, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2018 at the age of 64. A terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, Ron instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and help him access the specialist treatment he requires.
His legal team went on to secure Ron a settlement from a former employer in connection with his exposure. The funds are allowing Ron to receive private treatment and take part in a new clinical trial to extend his life.
Now aged 68, the dad-of-two known as Great North Ron, has been selected to participate in this year’s Great North Run for the 42nd consecutive year. He’s keen to raise awareness around the dangers of asbestos, while making his family proud. He’s also one of 80 people to have run every Great North Run since it’s inception.
Ian Toft, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is supporting Ron by joining him in the Great North Run, said: “Understandably the past few years haven’t been easy for Ron as he came to terms with his diagnosis and what it means for him and his family. However, he’s shown such strength and courage as he attempts to continue living his life as he always has.
“Sadly, Ron’s case is typical of those we’ve been involved in where many of Tyneside’s shipyard workers have gone on to develop mesothelioma many years after their exposure occurred. It’s another reminder of the terrible legacy asbestos has created in the region.
“While nothing can change what Ron and his loved one’s have been through, we’re pleased to have been able to secure funding to help Ron access private treatment and ease the financial burdens of everyday life.
Ron said that asbestos was used throughout the yards, but neither he nor his colleagues were aware of the dangers of the substance and even used to have snowball fights using asbestos lagging.
Ron began to feel unwell during a holiday to Croatia in September 2018 with his partner, Denise Golden, 58, a mental health nurse. On his return home, Ron saw a GP. He underwent a blood test, chest x-ray and subsequent CT scan which identified a shadow in his chest.
Following a biopsy, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma that December.
As a result, Ron subsequently underwent chemotherapy, surgery to remove the pleurectomy - the lining between the lungs and chest wall, and decortication which involves removal of tumours from the surface of the lung.
Prior to being diagnosed, Ron was working with his son Paul as a joiner and site foreman, carrying out work across the north east of England. He was forced to give this up in September 2018 due to his symptoms.
However, Ron isn’t letting his condition stop him from getting ready for this year’s Great North Run.
He said: “When I was given my diagnosis, it was a huge shock as I had always been healthy and loved to keep fit. I regularly walked, ran and cycled, and I even played football until I was 60.
“So, to find out I had mesothelioma completely floored me, and then to be told that I had limited life left was absolutely devastating.
“My condition is slowly worsening, and I suffer from pain and shortness of breath, but I’m still quite fit and healthy and determined to keep living my life to the full as best I can.”
He added: “Over the past few months, I’ve been training for the Great North Run. I’ve done it 41 times before and I won’t let anything stop me from getting to number 42. But I know it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support I’ve had from Denise, my family, friends, and also my legal team who have helped me get the treatment I need.
“Sadly, nothing will change what I’m going through, so all I want to do now is help others by raising awareness around mesothelioma and how dangerous asbestos is. It’s awful to think that when I worked at the shipyards, my workmates and I would throw snowballs made of it. We were totally unaware of the risks back then.
“I have a saying – if you don’t use it, you lose it – and it’s really important for me to challenge myself and keep going as long as I can. I’m still here more than four-and-a-half years and I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me get here.”