A 43-year-old mother believes hugging her father when he came from work during her childhood may have led to her devastating cancer diagnosis.
Kate Richmond, from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma – a rare cancer, caused by exposure to asbestos.
Doctors said her cancer was linked to asbestos fibres – meaning she unwittingly ingested the dangerous substance as a child.
Kate Richmond (pictured with her husband Brett and their children Lauren, aged six and Finn, nine) has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos
Earlier this year, the mother started experiencing a sore tummy
Stunned by the diagnosis, Kate told Mamamia she initially had no idea how she was exposed to asbestos, which occurs at least 10 years before the disease develops.
But the only explanation she could think of was hugging her father every day after he’d return home from working at a manufacturing company, where he worked for nearly 18 years.
Dr Richmond, originally from the UK, claimed she ingested the asbestos fibres from his clothing – however, she will never know the cause of her condition.
Before her diagnosis, the mother-of-two said she started experiencing soreness in the gut earlier this year along with shortness of breath.
After getting a CT scan, doctors found she had excess fluid in her abdomen.
Following a full hysterectomy to remove cancerous tumours, the family were given the heartbreaking news she had a life expectancy of two to three years.
‘I cried and said, “but I’m only in my 40s and I have young kids and I need to be around for them”,’ Dr Richmond told Mamamia.
Working as a GP herself, Dr Richmond said the news of her cancer was ‘completely terrifying’.
‘I’m used to being the doctor who sees a scan and plans to work out the best way to give horrible news. Now I am completely on the other end of it,’ she said.
Following a full hysterectomy to remove cancerous tumours, the family were given the heartbreaking news she had a life expectancy of two to three years
What is peritoneal mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer found in the peritoneum, a thin membrane surrounding the abdomen.
Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma.
Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, with 732 Australians diagnosed in 2014.
Men are over three times more likely than women to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, probably because many cases have been caused by exposure to asbestos at work.
It can take many years for mesothelioma to develop after a person is exposed to asbestos. This is called the latency period or interval – it is usually between 20 and 60 years (most commonly around 40 years) after exposure.
Source: Cancer Council
Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for her medical expenses, with more than $64,000 already donated.
‘Kate’s pretty darn awesome. She’s a mum to two beautiful children Lauren, aged six and Finn, nine,’ her friend Emma Johnstone said.
‘She’s been a doctor since 2001 in both the UK and in Victoria. Helping and healing people is what drives her. She’s positive, selfless and has a wicked sense of humour loved by both her friends and patients.
‘She wants more than anything to get back to working with and helping patients in her community, watch Lauren and Finn grow into adults and one day retire and travel with her adoring husband Brett.
‘But for now, Kate’s concentrating on the immediate challenge in front of her – healing her body of cancer.
‘We’re asking for any donations to help support Kate’s treatment and in turn lift the financial burden for Kate and her family that unfortunately accompanies a cancer diagnosis.’
The mother has since finished her chemotherapy and now she’s getting ongoing immunotherapy treatment.
To make a donation, please visit the GoFundMe page.