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"It's no secret I've been through plenty of stuff." Barry Du Bois on having cancer amid COVID-19.

Barry Du Bois is not a religious man, but when the builder-turned-TV host was undergoing a double dose of chemotherapy in 2017, he prayed. He prayed for strength; not the spiritual or emotional kind, the kind that meant he could lift his own children.

Du Bois was diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow (plasmacytoma myeloma) back in 2011 after suffering persistent neck pain. Surgery and radiotherapy kept the disease at bay for six years, until it returned as multiple myeloma in 2017.

The aggressive treatment sapped the fit, active star of The Living Room of his usual vigour. In a piece for Men’s Health Australia magazine in 2019, Du Bois wrote that he felt "helpless and weak", a feeling that he worried may one day colour his kids' memories of him.

"You see, I have these incredible memories of the strength of my father, and I was very worried that my own children would remember me as a weak person who was a burden on their mother," the 60-year-old wrote. "I’m a very positive guy, but that thought really haunted me."

Listen: Barry Du Bois shares how fatherhood gave him a whole new strength. Post continues after. 

"What I have is not curable. But I’m in a great place. I’m as good as someone can be who has multiple myeloma."

Du Bois has long held an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards his diagnosis.

In a new interview with TV Week, Du Bois admitted that he's not feeling particularly anxious amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I have a very moderate treatment at the moment, which I have only about every two months, and throughout COVID I didn't go on it," he explained.

"It does exhaust me, but I'm a pretty fit 60-year-old guy. There are a lot of 30-year-olds who aren't as fit, and they'd be more threatened by COVID than I am."

In an upcoming episode of The Living Room, Du Bois, who turned 60 last month, will celebrate with a This Is Your Life-esque tribute from TV veteran Mike Munro.

"I'm quite an emotional guy, Amanda [Keller] is emotional as well, so yeah, there were tears," he told TV Week. 

"It's no secret I've been through plenty of stuff. A lot of people think that's terrible, but I love my life. I love every second of it."

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Although Du Bois and his family were planning to spend time in Europe this year, they've been able to see the positive side of spending lockdown together as they've learned new skills and picked up new hobbies.

Du Bois and his partner, Leonie Tobler, have eight-year-old twins, Arabella and Bennett.

The path to parenthood was a difficult one for the couple. Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast in 2018, Du Bois recalled the grief of multiple miscarriages and the challenges of failed IVF.

"We went from little heartbeats to sobbing, many many times," he said. "And IVF, it’s not making love; it’s jabbing your partner with needles 30 times a month and being told at a certain time 'go for it, as hard as you can'. What an imbalanced plate that is."

Leonie was later diagnosed with cervical cancer. Saving her life meant undergoing a radical hysterectomy.

Their children — twins Arabella and Bennett — eventually came into their lives via an Indian surrogate — an experience he described as "incredible". It’s a word he also used to explain fatherhood.

"I’m a pretty simple guy; I think that’s why we’re here, to procreate and leave a legacy. The legacy, so far, is love, sense of belonging, warmth, nutrition, security. Maslow’s 'hierarchy of needs', that’s what it is," he said.

"Being a father is a gift."

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Sadly, Barry DuBois’ cancer is not curable. But he previously told Men’s Health he is doing as well as anyone in his position could possibly hope.

Bit by bit, he’s strengthening his physical and mental health through meditation, exercise, sunshine, socialising.

"What I want," he wrote for the magazine, "is for my children to be able to tell their children one day that their dad was a powerful man."

Feature Image: Instagram.

This post was originally published on September 4, 2019, and updated on August 17, 2020.

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