CRUEL OUTCOME: Nola Mauler, of Yamba, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January this year and is still uncertain how she came into contact with deadly asbestos dust.
CRUEL OUTCOME: Nola Mauler, of Yamba, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January this year and is still uncertain how she came into contact with deadly asbestos dust. Jacklyn Wagner

Nola refuses to be bitter over deadly disease

NOLA MAULER never worked for asbestos-maker James Hardie and to her knowledge was never exposed to the deadly dust.

Yet in January the housewife and mother of three was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given 10 months to live.

All Mrs Mauler, 66, of Yamba, and her doctors can guess is the cancerous fibre entered her lungs when she washed her husband's work clothes.

“My husband was an electrician and worked with a lot of asbestos and I washed his overalls,” she said yesterday.

It was in September last year after Mrs Mauler started to feel a bit breathless that doctors began to investigate and found three litres of fluid from her lungs, which was crushing her heart.

Mrs Mauler has since undergone painful chemotherapy and radiotherapy to add a couple of months to the time she can spend with her family in Yamba.

“The worst part has been the treatment, but it gave me hope,” she said yesterday.

Mrs Mauler was one of about 60 asbestos victims and their families to attend a seminar yesterday organised by the Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Support Group in Lismore.

The group's secretary, Nick Bos, said cases of exposure like Mrs Mauler were not uncommon.

He has been involved in first fighting to have asbestos removed from buildings and later organising support for victims since his days as a union organiser.

Mr Bos said even though James Hardie was aware of the dangers associated with asbestos, and could have easily used a non-lethal alternative since the early 1960s, it was still used in products as late as the 1990s. He said years after its use was banned, many people were still becoming infected due to the renovation craze.

But Mrs Mauler says she doesn't want to waste her time feeling bitter towards James Hardie, which this week announced it may not have enough money in its compensation fund for all those who have died as result of its product.

“I want to stay positive,” she said. “As a Christian my hope is in God, there is no one else I can lean on. I've never asked why me? It's just one of those things I have to live with.”



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