UK—Bookmakers are set to pay Jon Matthews £5,000 because he beat the odds of surviving.
The 59-year-old was diagnosed with cancer linked to asbestos. He collected £5,000 on June 1, 2008 after placing a bet with William Hill that he would still be alive. He made the bet go even further when he wagered that he would live beyond June 1 of this year.
Mr. Matthews said, “I think I’m the first person in the world to bet on my own life.”
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that is a known carcinogen. This fiber consists of long, thin fibrous crystals and may be mixed with other substances in order to resist heat, electricity and chemical damage. Due to these characteristics, asbestos was used in many buildings and other structures throughout the 1900s. When it is stable and undisturbed, asbestos remains relatively safe. If it is disturbed in any way, however, as it would be during either remodeling or demolition projects, the microscopic fibers within the asbestos become airborne.
Once breathed in by humans, they become lodged in the body’s soft tissues, where they may lie dormant for years only to erupt decades later as a serious illness—pleural disease, asbestosis, or the aggressive cancer that Mr. Matthews suffers from, mesothelioma.
The widower was told by Harefield Hospital in Middlesex that their longest surviving patient with mesothelioma lived 25 months after being diagnosed. When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is often a fast-paced downhill spiral, due to the disease’s long latency period.
Mr. Matthews had had the cancer for 38 months.
“When I was diagnosed I was told mesothelioma was a death sentence,” he said. “I wasn’t that fussed because everyone has to die some time. But the interesting thing for me was how long it would take, would it take weeks or years,” he explained.
If Mr. Matthews lives until June 1 of next year, 2010, then he will win £10,000 more due to another bet.
He plans to donate most the majority of his winnings to cancer charities.
“Never in 30 years in the business have I been so pleased to pay a winning client £10,000, with, I trust, a further £10,000 to come next year,” William Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe said.