See What Happened At ’23’ To A Girl Who Was Eating Asbestos While A Child

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A young woman was devastated to learn she had developed a mystifying asbestos-related cancer which affects male builders aged over 75.

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The only explanation 23-year-old Danielle Smalley can think of is that she must have eaten some of the banned heat-resistant material as a young child.

One of three similar peritoneal mesothelioma cases since 2009, she needs to have eggs from her ovaries frozen before revolutionary “hot chemo” because the new treatment will leave her infertile.

She said: “It’s been such a shock. 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.”

Neither of her parents – Amanda, 47, and dad Simon, 51, who both run an alarm fitting business – have knowingly worked with, or come into contact with asbestos, fully banned in 1999.

Danielle, who has two brothers, said: “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.”

Initially it was believed Danielle had irritable bowel syndrome . But doctors at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, found tumours behind her bowel.

Danielle is having her eggs harvested before surgery to remove the tumours. She will also have her organs “washed”, using innovative heated chemotherapy drugs.

“I’m really scared,” she admitted. “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.”

Danielle, a client relationship manager, is moving out of home in Aldershot, Hants, to be with boyfriend Jack in nearby Basingstoke.


She said: “My family and my boyfriend have been with my every step. He’s amazing and just says he loves me no matter what.”

Statistics show just two other cases in under 25s since 2009. More than 50% occur in males over 75.

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Jasmine Just said: “Five in 100 men survive it for five years or more.”

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