An Australian actor has died at the age of 67 after being diagnosed with a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Harold Hopkins passed away on December 10 in a bed at Neringah Private Hospital in the Sydney suburb of Wahroonga.
Described by family and friends as a charming larrikin, Hopkins had performed roles in hundreds of TV shows and movies.
He was remembered for his part in the well-known Australian film Gallipoli, where he played the part of the hot-headed Les McCann alongside actors such as Bill Kerr, Mark Lee and Mel Gibson.
The actor also had staring roles in the 1998 cinematic adaptation of the Herman Melville classic Moby Dick and the 2009 production of Australian TV crime series Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.
Speaking to ABC News on December 12, actor and close friend John Harratt said that he fully expected Hopkins to be kicking on to a ripe old age.
“If you put money on who would get to [live] to 100, I would put it on Harold, “said Harratt.
“It is the most sad, sad thing that has happened to such a beautiful man.”
Harrat also explained how Hopkins managed to contract the deadly disease working as an apprentice carpenter in the 1960s.
“He found out he got cancer from demolishing a house in 1968 that had fibro in it.”
Fibrous Asbestos Cement (FAC) was a common building material widely used in the construction of domestic dwellings across Australia before being banned in the 1980s.
When the material is disturbed through cutting, tearing or other vigorous movements, particles of the naturally occurring mineral can easily become airborne.
The danger is that these tiny crystals could then be breathed in bu unwary workers, lodging in the lining of the airways and potentially causing a number of diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
These conditions have no known cure, which means that victims can require a high degree of care to make sure that their quality of life is maintained.
Personal injury lawyers specialising in dust-borne diseases can help to ensure that family members have access to the funds they need to provide this ongoing care.
When finances are already a concern due to medical bills, a no win no fee arrangement can help to ease the pressure – with the legal fees only being applied if a compensation case is successful.