THE FAMILY of a man who died from a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos have spoken out about the lack of knowledge, support and care that was available to them throughout his illness.

Walter Frederick Kendall died aged 56, seven months after he was first diagnosed with sarcomatois mesothelioma - the rarest form of asbestos-related cancer, an inquest has heard.

It is thought that Mr Kendall was exposed to asbestos during his time working at a Paragon Wallpaper warehouse in Darwen, where in a statement before his death he said flakes of asbestos would ‘rain down’ from the roof and ceiling of the building.

Now his family have spoken out about the lack of support and knowledge available to them during his illness.

Sharon Kendall, who was married to Walter for 18 years has described the lack of understanding about the disease as 'unbelievable'.

She said: “We’ve encountered doctors, nurses and paramedics who haven’t understood what the illness is.

“Charity and support networks are available for people with asbestos-related diseases, but for the rare sarcomatois mesothelioma that Walt had, there was nothing.

“This was also clear in the abilities of some medical staff we encountered over the seven months he was ill.”

Realising she would have to act to get the help they needed, Mrs Kendall started looking further afield and found a hospital in London where consultants were willing to meet Mr Kendall.

The couple went to London where two doctors at St Bartholomews Hospital came up with alternative forms of treatment for Mr Kendall, including putting him forward for trials.

Mrs Kendall said: “Despite the fact there was still so little known about the cancer, the doctors in London were fantastic and so willing to help.

“The staff in general at St Barts provided a much better quality of care than Walt was getting when in Blackburn, and as a family we are so grateful to the doctors and staff there.

"It seems more people are dying from cancer due to asbestos exposure and while we understand Walt had the rarest form, that doesn’t mean less efforts should be put into finding out how to cure it.”

“If speaking out about this could change or help one person get the help they need, it's worth it."

Mr Kendall was moved to East Lancashire Hospice four weeks before his death.

Speaking about her father, Lauren said: “He had the most infectious laugh and smile.

“He was a strong, brave man and he didn’t complain or grumble once throughout his illness - he was always more worried and concerned about those around him.

“But there was just nobody around him that he could speak to on a level, someone who had been through the same thing or who really knew what they were talking about. In that sense he was alone in the illness.

“He had the support from his whole family around him, but if he’d been able to speak to someone else about what he was going through who knew what it was like, things could have been different.

“But that just wasn’t an option. Going forward we’d like awareness of the dangers of asbestos to be raised and we’d like to see more support available for those diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses.”

Coroner Richard Taylor said: “I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family on the death of Mr Kendall, whose cause of death was industrial illness.

“Mr Kendall died in East Lancashire Hospice after exposure to asbestos in his working life.”

Walter Kendall leaves behind his much loved-wife Sharon, five children Lauren, James, Lee, Kevin and Jodie, children-in-law Claire, Rachel, Ryan and Aymie and grandchildren Morgan, Lillie, Rhea, Phoebe, Max, Luke and Lola. He was also the dear brother of Nigel and John.