Oftentimes we see tragedy progress into hope, and the stories are always heartening. The story of Chris Knighton and the loss of her husband, Mick Knighton, does just that; it brings tears to your eyes and empowers you at the same time.

Chris and Mick Knighton were a happily married, loving couple with children and grandchildren with whom they shared their joy for life. In 2000, Mick had been experiencing difficulty breathing, and the couple visited their doctor to investigate. Once they received the diagnosis, they were both shocked and saddened. Mick was diagnosed with mesothelioma and had only 6 months to live.

Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer, caused by exposure to airborne asbestos, which can affect the lining of the stomach or, as in Mick’s case, the lining of the lungs (known as pleural mesothelioma). Due to the advanced nature of Mick’s condition upon diagnosis, there were no treatment options available, only means to help make him more comfortable.

Mick and his wife, Chris, were shocked to learn of the limited research and information available on mesothelioma, and the family was even more surprised to learn that Mick had been exposed to asbestos during his time serving in the Navy, almost 50 years prior to his diagnosis. The Navy took no responsibility for Mick’s illness. This realization inspired Chris to launch a fundraising campaign, both to honor her husband, who died 7 months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, and to fund more research into this aggressive disease and new treatment options.

Out of the Knighton family’s tragedy was born the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, which raises awareness of mesothelioma and money for mesothelioma research. In 2002, Chris Knighton swore that her husband’s death would not be in vain and that the thousands of other people exposed to asbestos would be recognized as she launched the fund.

In addition to the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, Chris launched the Snowdrop Fund that allows others to conduct fundraising efforts as tributes to loved ones lost to or suffering with mesothelioma. The Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund helps to organize and promote Snowdrop Fund programs. It is this family’s hope that the combined efforts of both foundations can bring greater hope for the thousands of families who will be faced with mesothelioma diagnosis in the future.