I started as an apprentice plumber. I know where my exposure was. As an apprentice, I worked on a lot of housing commission – they were all fibro houses back then. I renovated over 100 fibro houses at Chester Hill, Greenacre, and Jannali. I had to cut the fibro sheets with a grinder so we could put the plumbing in the walls. I was always cutting those sheets. Even though I wore a mask for what I considered was just nuisance dust, we didn’t know it was a danger. I may not have had the mask on all the time. The dust was everywhere.
I was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. I was in shock. I was devastated.
The optimum time for it to appear is 40 years after exposure, so this was early.
I was really hopeful going on the trial. That’s what I was hoping for, for a long time. I was hopeful that it would work.
And progressively I felt better. The pain stopped. All of a sudden, I could yawn without restriction.
Now, I can go bushwalking and walk up steep steps. Anything I want to do. I probably get less breathless than Karen. The lung function tests say I’m pretty normal. I feel this clinical trial has saved my life.
I met Karen in 2010, just before all this started happening. She’s stuck by me through all this.
We ended up getting married in November, because we didn’t know how long we had.
Mesothelioma is something that always worried me, from the early 80’s when the dangers were reported.
It’s obviously also on the mind of other tradies. When I was diagnosed they were asking me what my symptoms were.
It’s about time the government put in place a scheme to make if affordable to get rid of asbestos so people stop dumping it.
To get rid of a piece the size of an A4 is about $250 to put it in a waste facility. It doesn’t matter whether it’s small or up to a tonne, it costs the same.
Building and renovating shows should put more emphasis on warning people. They have hundreds of thousands of people watching, who think “I can do that myself”, but are oblivious to the materials they are handling.