Mrs Ann Macpherson, who has had to give up her job as a medical secretary, is one of a growing number of people who have become ill from asbestos dust unwittingly brought home by other members of the family.
Her husband Derek, who worked at an aluminium processing factory near Banbury, Oxfordshire, died of mesothelioma in 1995.
Mrs Macpherson, 57, who lives near Banbury, was diagnosed last year as suffering from the same disease.
She retired from her job at Horton General Hospital in Banbury last October on grounds of ill-health and, backed by her union, Unison, pursued a claim against her husband's employers, who settled out of court.
Mrs Macpherson, who has one daughter, said working at the hospital had helped her cope with losing her husband.
"I had just started a new job as a secretary when I had to give it up because I became too ill to carry on. Asbestos is a time-bomb ticking away that can strike years later."
Unison's general secretary, Rodney Bickerstaffe, said: "This is a tragic case. It graphically highlights the personal tragedy that exposure to asbestos brings.
"The Government should urgently address the massive problem of asbestos that exists in every walk of life - in our public buildings, schools, hospitals and even in our homes."
The Health and Safety Commission announced earlier this month that it was moving to ban, next year, virtually all use of white asbestos.