WHEN Anthony Breslin woke up with bruises the size of grapefruits on his legs three years ago, he knew he had leukaemia.
He had watched his older brother die from the disease 23 years ago, aged 38, so he recognised the signs when he saw them.
“I watched my brother die – was with him all the way, right until the end – and I thought: ‘That is going to happen to me, I’m going to end up like him,” the Melbourne artist said.
But that wasn’t the end for Breslin.
“I was hospitalised for months and needed a bone marrow transplant to live because I was dying – I actually almost died three times,” he said.
“I’m not too bad at the moment – I’m a long way off being good and I’ve got kidney failure but I’m off dialysis, which is a miracle.”
The former bodybuilder, now 20kg lighter, is physically very weak and suffering fatigue, but has powered on with a new-found perspective and purpose.
“When you go through something like this, you have to dig deep into your mind and your perception of reality because there are lots of things you have to let go of quickly,” he said.
“In my case, I went from being really strong and capable and doing so much to wiped out in such a short period of time.
“And then I watched my body waste away very quickly – it was a real drastic change of having to deal with a new life, a different life.”
About a year ago, confined to a hospital isolation room, Breslin began to create a warrior man.
Bit by bit he drew the figure: the star of his new ‘comeback’ exhibition.
“I used to draw whenever I had the energy and this character developed who was like a warrior and I started to go: “I’m drawing him because that’s how I feel,’” Breslin said.
“Many times I wished I had passed and just moved on to the next life and left this one behind, but I didn’t, I survived. “
What: Destiny of a Warrior exhibition
When: November 2-17
Where: Claremont Quarter