Asbestos Awareness Ambassador Trevor Gillmeister shares a heartfelt letter to his dad Ron, who lost his battle with mesothelioma (an asbestos-related disease) in 2009. He now continues his dad’s fight to warn others about the dangers of asbestos… 'as tough as you think you are, asbestos is always tougher'.
It's been a while mate, but I think about you all the time.
The family are well, we all still get together for the family barbeques with Mum. I'm doing a fair bit of coaching now - the year has been a bit up and down as usual.
Do you remember my first game of footy with the Gladstone West Panthers under 9s? I always wanted to play footy, that was my main goal. I must have done alright though to be asked by the great Artie Beetson to play for the Roosters. Even though you tried to talk me out of it, you always supported me. Sydney is such a big city, I remember asking how to get to Bondi and you just told me to get over the bridge and hook a left. You were pretty spot on, I made it.
You were always such a hard worker, I think that's why you were so well recognised in the industry. It's thanks to you that I got my foot in the door and started my apprenticeship.
I can still remember the day you got diagnosed. It wasn't fair. You'd just retired and gotten back from the cruise with mum.
I'd never heard of mesothelioma before. I remember saying to you, mate, you're a strong bloke, you can beat this, there might even be a cure, but you just gave me a blank look I think you knew, they gave you six months, but you didn't give up, you proved them wrong and we got you to almost a year.
You were a tough old bugger and I've always tried to be like you. I'm continuing your fight.
I'm getting out there as an asbestos awareness ambassador. I want people to be more proactive and careful around the stuff. I'm starting to notice a change too. People don't just recognise me for my football career anymore, they see the work I'm doing and how important it is for me to have people talking about asbestos.
As tough as you think you are, asbestos is always going to be tougher.