Meet cancer survivor Tony Biddle.


Tony Biddle at home in Sydney

In May 2011, Tony had a regular CT scan after having some trouble with breathing. What was an exploratory CT scan turned into a possible diagnosis of asbestos related lung cancer that changed his life. 

As Tony hadn’t ever worked with asbestos in a day-to-day capacity, he wondered how this could happen to him, it had to be something else, such as TB. Exploratory surgery found mesothelioma in the pleura, the lining of his right lung. 

After years of reflection and talking to old friends, Tony traced his exposure to asbestos back to a DIY building job he was doing one day on a family farm in the early 1970’s. This single exposure resulted in this diagnosis. 

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer that develops in the outer lining of the lungs due to exposure to asbestos and the breathing in of asbestos dust fibres. 

Most pleural mesothelioma patients, come from the construction and building industry where they were exposed on many occasions to asbestos. 

“ This is not possible, what is happening?” was Tony’s first reaction. 

With the diagnosis, Tony was told that he had perhaps not more than 12 to 18 months to live. Faced with this grim prospect, Tony began treatment.

A heart check followed to establish whether Tony was strong enough to be suitable for surgery.

Only 1 in 7 cases of this cancer type are operable. Tony was advised by his specialist that he was in that 1 in 7. 

As preparations were made for surgery, Tony’s counselor advised him to have an active interest in his treatment, to be ‘an exceptional patient’. 

As Tony prepared for surgery he asked this question. 

“ I want to find out more before going into surgery. What are my options?” 

From all the treatment options, Tony chose an Extrapleural Pneumonectomy (EPP) – a surgical procedure involving the removal of the one lung with cancer, followed by radiation.

In March 2012, almost 1 year after the initial diagnosis, Tony went back to work in Sydney.

A year after the operation, with his health stable, Tony decided to live life to its fullest and go on a trip…A trip of a lifetime to South Georgia and Antarctica. 

“ South Georgia is the most unbelievable place in the world.” Tony said. 

After many years of stable health, in 2017, as a result of an annual scan, doctors found a possible growth in a lymph node near Tony’s pancreas. 

Tony went through another round of chemotherapy and unfortunately suffered a stroke. Quick treatment ensured that Tony had a good outcome from this setback. 

Tony is a truly exceptional patient. 

Having experienced various treatments for his cancer, Tony can appreciate that the clinical trials may provide long term alternative treatment options for other patients like him. 

Research and clinical trials give critical hope to people like Tony. 

When asked what he hoped would be the impact of the clinical trials on patients, Tony said: 

“ The clinical trials that John Rasko and his team are doing are groundbreaking in avoiding surgery and the painful side-effects of chemo and radiation oncology treatment. John Rasko blows my mind.” 

Clinical Trials Give Hope 

At the forefront of this pioneering research is Professor John Rasko AO. 

“ The idea that we can use cells or genes to heal ourselves of disease that have always been incurable is almost beyond comprehension, but is in fact within reach.” Prof. John Rasko AO 

John and his team are a collective of trail blazing researchers and scientists who are dedicated to using living therapies to change the way medicine is delivered. John and his team are currently working on clinical trials using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells for the targeted treatment of asbestos-related lung cancer, in addition to pancreatic cancer, muscle cancer, ovarian cancer, and some breast cancers. 

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are produced by harvesting and reprogramming healthy T cells from a cancer patient. Genetically modified cells are then manufactured in their billions and infused back into the patient. Once in the patient the CAR T cells act to seek, target and destroy cancerous cells. See the pictures below detailing the cycle of CAR therapy. 


Image: Shutterstock

You Hold The Keys For Hope

You can be part of this ground-breaking global project and help Cure The Future – for your family and for families like yours, all over the world. 

Cure The Future is a Philanthropic Foundation that funds pioneering research to cure inherited diseases and cancers through the world leading research and clinical work of Professsor Rasko and his team. With your support we can fund equipment, services and the professional development of this inspirational team of scientists and researchers to enhance their ground breaking work, to have a greater impact now and for generations to come. 

Your support of Cure The Future could help people like Tony with the hope of better treatment and a cure.