A Perth man diagnosed with a life-ending asbestos-related disease in early 2010, has defied medical odds by surviving long enough to tell his tale in a new memoir, possibly the first of its kind in Australia.
Diagnosed with mesothelioma more than five years ago after exposure to asbestos in the building industry, Barry Knowles is described by health experts as a medical rarity for surviving far beyond the usual six to nine month prognosis given to sufferers.
Mr Knowles put pen to paper to detail his health struggles, his legal fight for compensation, and his new mission to help other victims and their families through a support group. His book is titled Reflections through Reality.
“When I visited my doctor in 2010 and he told me I had just six months to live, I couldn’t believe it. It was such a shock and I started to think about my family and what I would miss in life,” Mr Knowles said.
“After months of chemotherapy, I was told I had stage four cancer and there was nothing more doctors could do. I was given just weeks to live.
“Then miraculously, the tumour just stopped growing and I was told I was experiencing ‘slow progression’ of the illness, meaning I may have 12 months to live. That was five years ago.
“I knew there was something else on life’s road map that I needed to do. Usually people who are going through this don’t live long enough to help other sufferers, so my wife Renee and I set up a support group which meets monthly.
“I was also encouraged to write a memoir to help other sufferers and leave a legacy of support for other victims in the future.
“Importantly, proceeds of the book sales will go to asbestos research, so we can work towards a cure for these insidious diseases.”
Slater and Gordon represented Mr Knowles in his claim for compensation and sponsored the production of his book. General Manager, Siri Siriwardene said it was amazing that Barry was managing to stay alive and keep going longer than anyone had expected.
“I think it’s important that people can hear about how his life had been turned upside down by mesothelioma simply because he had worked with asbestos, but that he still found a way of keeping positive,” Mr Siriwardene said.
“Barry is prepared to face the emotions of his darkest days. He relived the symptoms, the diagnosis of mesothelioma and the awful times that followed so that he could benefit scientific research and the people who read his story.”