Disease fails to keep Ray down

Ray Colbert has set off on a five-day ride to raise awareness about asbestos-related disease.
Ray Colbert has set off on a five-day ride to raise awareness about asbestos-related disease.

RAY Colbert's asbestosis has left him wheelchair ridden and requires him to be on oxygen at all times, but he refuses to let it rule every aspect of his life.

This morning Mr Colbert set off on a five-day journey, driving from Toowoomba to Brisbane in his wheelchair to raise awareness and much-needed funding for asbestos disease research.

A former Navy seaman, Mr Colbert was exposed to asbestos in the engine and boiler rooms of ships where the fibre was used to insulate against heat.

A slow-onset disease, asbestosis is a scarring of the lung tissue that occurs when the body's immune system fails to expel asbestos fibres.

Since diagnosis in 2002 Mr Colbert has been fighting the disease and is determined to do something to alter the perception asbestos is no longer a problem.

Asbesots fibres can still be found in most houses built pre-1990 and Mr Colbert encouraged people to take extra caution when fixing or renovating their homes.

"If you're not sure you should treat the fibres as asbestos, because once they're in there's no getting them out of your lungs," he said.

Mr Colbert estimated that this year in Queensland alone 500 people had died from asbestos-related illnesses.

"That's higher than the national road toll and it's just the tip of the iceberg," he said.

As part of his journey Mr Colbert will drive his wheelchair through Gatton, Laidley, Booval and Ipswich before finishing in Brisbane on Friday afternoon.

His goal is to raise $500,000 to go towards asbestos disease research.

Topics:  asbestos asbestosis

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