In order to honor the memory of a simple working class man who worked diligently to bring the plight of asbestos-related disease victims to the general public in Australia, a new research center dedicated to finding better treatments for mesothelioma will be built. The center will bear the name of Bernie Banton, the Sydney-area man who did so much for so many people who were stricken with serious diseases after being exposed to asbestos.
According to a story aired by the Australian Broadcasting Company, the center won’t be up and running for about a year, but when it opens, its first goal will be to insure that all patients with mesothelioma have access to the latest treatments.
“He was keenly aware that something good that could come from the suffering, and he saw in this center the hope for the future that one day we could find a cure,” New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said of Mr. Banton.
On November 29th, just a few days after Banton’s death, his grandson Jack turned the first sod at what will become one of the world’s first dedicated asbestos research centers.
“What it will mean down the track is a cure for this insidious disease of mesothelioma, it really is a horrible way to die,” Bernie’s wife Karen told the media.
The Banton family says that Bernie forgave the executives at James Hardie Industries for his illness. (He was exposed while working there more than 30 years ago.) However, they remain angry.
“I guarantee not one of these Hardie people have stood next to the bedside of a person diagnosed with these diseases …and witnessed them die. It’s a terrible death,” Jack Banton said.