Despite the known fact that Wittenoom is responsible for many deaths, there are some who are reluctant to ban tourists from visiting the town. Undeniably, residents who still reside there are feeling financial and emotional strain due to the lack of tourist trade, however when I saw an article in the West Australian Newspaper Wednesday 19th May, titled “The Town that Won’t Die”, I was upset and angered by the comments made by a resident of the town, who stated that he had lived in Wittenoom since 1966 and that to his knowledge, no one had died of mesothelioma during that time.
No one should become complacent, or take comfort in the knowledge that thirty eight years have passed without incidence of mesothelioma in Whittenoom, for it is a known fact that many years may pass between inhalation of asbestos dust and it's deadly legacy of mesothelioma.
I became tragically aware of this, when my husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2001, this as a result of him having lived in Wittenoom for a few short months as a child. Forty five years had passed between his inhalation of asbestos dust and his diagnosis.
I, for one cannot think of Wittenoom without pain. It killed my husband and his father, and many more loved ones will die in years to come, as a result of living there. No one who has witnessed the devastation of this terrible disease and lost loved ones through it could have any empathy for Wittenoom. It is forever tainted with a killer dust that once inhaled remains in the lungs, until without warning it strikes, and there is no hope, no cure, for this terrible disease.
For the residents who wish to remain there, it is their choice. However, to encourage and permit tourists to visit Wittenoom, knowing full well the dangers of asbestos dust inhalation, is as irresponsible as the mining company who created this monster and refused to close operation even after they became aware of its existence.
Wittenoom may well be a scenic place to live for the remaining residents – to me it reflects a massive graveyard filled with all the loved ones who have died and a pain in the heart for all who have lost them. I would like to see it wiped off the map forever.
Article and excerpts written by: Lorraine Kember – Author of “Lean on Me” Cancer through a Carer’s Eyes. Lorraine’s book is written from her experience of caring for her dying husband in the hope of helping others. It includes insight and discussion on: Anticipatory Grief, Understanding and identifying pain, Pain Management and Symptom Control, Chemotherapy, Palliative Care, Quality of Life and Dying at home. It also features excerpts and poems from her personal diary. Highly recommended by the Cancer Council. “Lean on Me” is not available in bookstores - For detailed information, Doctor’s recommendations, Reviews, Book Excerpts and Ordering Facility - visit her website http://www.cancerthroughacarerseyes.jkwh.com