Black Lung a cruel reminder of CQ man's life in mining
Shaking his head, that's all Tyrone Buckton can say about the cruel legacy dealt by three decades in the mines.
His world has shrunk to a few metres inside their family home, with occasional car rides possible only with meticulous planning and enough oxygen for the trip.
"It's like being on a roller-coaster with the fast-forward button on and nobody stops to let you off it," Trisha said.
"I don't remember any of us signing up for this ride, did we? How did we get this far, this quick?"
Tears welling in her eyes, Trisha says the couple are just over a month out from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Destined for a life in the mining industry
There was never any doubt about Tyrone's future career.
He was born and raised in Mount Morgan, from a family of miners.
Tyrone was married to high school sweetheart Trisha and, with a young family by 22, was always thankful for the stable, secure life guaranteed in his job as a drill operator at Goonyella mines near Moranbah.
After 33 years, he hung up the hard hat in 2004 and retired to a peaceful 6ha property at Alton Downs.
Tyrone and Trisha saw news reports about Black Lung disease when it made headlines in 2016, but never considered it could be a threat to them.
After all, it had been 12 years since they had lived and worked in Moranbah and Tyrone never spent underground.
But about a year ago Tyrone, a strong and independent man all his life, started feeling breathless while moving things around the property.
Trisha's immediate response was to suggest a visit to the doctor, but it took some convincing for Tyrone to admit it was needed.
In October, after months of tests, a doctor specialising in the disease diagnosed Tyrone with the disease thought to have been eradicated in Australia.
It is now believed the deadly disease, Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis, was never eradicated but simply went undetected.
Although it was thought to be restricted to underground workers, the diagnosis of another above-ground Goonyella worker in 2016 showed many more were at risk.
"We didn't know anything about it. Absolutely nothing," Tyrone said.
Trisha said they had always imagined it was a disease which only affected people "over in England and Wales and place like that, where they had a terrible life and went underground when they were 14".
"It didn't affect Australia, because we were too smart for that," Trisha said.
Then in February, a routine check for a chest infection revealed devastating news: Tyrone had a cancerous mass on his lung.
The cancer is aggressive and spreading quickly.
Black Lung has also taken a toll on Tyrone's heart, which is also being impacted by the spread of the cancer.
"Tyrone could walk when he left here," Trisha said. "He can't walk now. He can take a couple of steps with a wheely walker."
Daily life a struggle as disease takes toll
As with so many situations though, bad news has brought out the best in people and the Buckton family has been showered in community support.
Despite this, each day the family struggle through tasks which were once mundane, like showering or a quick car drive.
Tyrone now relied on a wheelchair, but the family home is not the most accessible and washing or using the toilet is a real squeeze.
They'll be installing ramps on the screen doors soon to make it easier to get the wheelchair in and out.
Tyrone and Trisha don't want to see other families going through the same pain and said they wanted to share their story to prompt people to get their lungs checked.
"You've got to go and get it seen to," Tyrone said.
Trisha is adamant compensation couldn't make up for what Tyrone is now going through.
"If I could find a pair of lungs and a heart on the side of the road, put 'em in an esky and bring them home, I would," she said.
"If you haven't got your health, no matter how much money you throw at it, it won't make a difference.
"It affects everybody."
Don't wait until it's too late for checks
Tyrone believes his career still gave his family a good life, but feels hurt and let down by the companies which were responsible for the health of workers.
"How can you choose another career, against a good career in the mines? And I still maintain we had a good life," he said.
"You could not knock it. The money was good, the work procedures were good, the workmates were good.
"You can't change that.
"I went and worked for BHP and this is the present they give me.
"It's just unfortunate there's just this thing floating around."
Tyrone said mines "had a lot to answer to" and should take responsibility.
However, there seems to be some fate involved in the diagnoses with other underground workers escaping the disease.
Tyrone said a close mate, who started underground the same time he started at Goonyella, worked 42 years at the coalface underground and "there's not a sign of Black Lung".
"He's clean as a whistle. But he keeps getting checked," Tyrone said.
In a year the rapid decline in his health has left his whole family shocked.
"We want to make the companies aware of the problems they've got, but we're not here to criticise anyone," he said.
"It hurts. I was pretty active around here and just suddenly you can't do anything."
"They reckon there's no cure for Black Lung.
"And you've just got to put up with it."