Help families like Clinton's this Christmas
Publish Date: 30/11/2017
Clinton vividly remembers the phone call that shattered his happy life with his family. He’d seen his GP after Christmas because he was suddenly feeling utterly exhausted – so tired he couldn’t walk 50m without a rest. The doctor guessed it might be from a normal dip in fitness over the holidays, but ordered blood tests anyway.
“The next day he rang and said come in now – you’ve got leukaemia,” Clinton remembers. “I asked him straight up am I going to die. I was scared. It was gut-wrenching. My youngest are 2 and 4. To wonder will they have to grow up without a father, I was devastated.”
“My partner was crying, the kids were crying. They knew daddy was sick. 8’clock the next morning my partner Tereina and I were on the plane to the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. It all happened so fast.”
Clinton’s family lives 1,200km north of Brisbane. Knowing he’d need many months of treatment, a big worry on both Clinton’s and Tereina’s minds was how the family could stay together during that upsetting time.
This Christmas 135 regional families will need a Leukaemia Foundation home close to major centres so they can stay together during blood cancer treatment.
Unless generous people like you help, they’re facing this Christmas in pain and distress, far from their family’s love and care.
Please, will you give an urgent gift so over Christmas, families battling blood cancer have a ‘home away from home’ and support from the Leukaemia Foundation?
When Clinton’s partner Tereina raised their predicament with a social worker, she was told to contact the Leukaemia Foundation immediately.
The family were given a nearby Leukaemia Foundation unit to live in during Clinton’s treatment. It meant family routines could continue – like being able to celebrate youngest Cruz’s 2nd birthday together. Jaxon, 4, could have sleepovers with daddy in hospital.
“Having the accommodation was such a relief,” says Clinton. “It was one huge burden lifted off your shoulders. It gives you the ability to concentrate on your disease and do what you’ve got to do to try and get yourself better.”
Further testing showed Clinton had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
“The doctor had told me the road ahead would be hard. But it was much harder than I thought it was going to be. Picture the worst thing you could in your whole life, and times it by 100, and you wouldn’t probably scratch the surface.”
“I had bad reactions to the first lot of chemotherapy. Some days you’d curl up in a ball on the bed for five days in a row. It was a horrible experience.”
So horrible, that after three rounds of chemotherapy and the discovery an agonising bone marrow transplant was his only chance of longer term survival, Clinton couldn’t see any hope in treatment anymore.
“I’m finding myself questioning if it is all worth it,” he wrote in a heart-wrenching email update to his family and friends from hospital. He decided he’d go home and spend his remaining days with his family by his side. Again the Leukaemia Foundation could help thanks to people like you.
“My partner got in touch with the counsellors who were just downstairs at the Leukaemia Foundation village and always had their door open. We all sat down with them and talked it through. It was only through talking with them that I was able to go through with the bone marrow transplant, and I credit my life to them.”
The wonderful news is that due to the procedure, using bone marrow donated by his brother Leon – a 100% match – Clinton has heard he is now in remission. And his wish to go home for Christmas has come true.
The day this beautiful family photo was taken Clinton had just been told this fantastic news. He said: “I’ve only been home once in the nine months I’ve been here. There are no guarantees about the future but I’m ecstatic, I can’t wait to get home.”
“I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve known some really good people who’ve died. Some have come out the other side like I have. Before, to be in your own home, to hear the rain on the roof, to play with your kids, you take it for granted. When you think it’s being taken it away from you, you appreciate it so much more.”
“But while I’m going home, every day more people will be diagnosed with blood cancer – a massive number. And this Christmas other families will be going through what we went through. It’s going to be hard when Christmas is the time you want to enjoy your family.”
In fact every single day between now and Christmas, 35 more people will hear they have blood cancer.
Many will have to travel long distances for treatment and face leaving their family behind, putting everyone involved through the trauma of being apart. Please don’t let families like Clinton’s be split up and alone at this special time for families.
This can only happen through generous people giving to help. Without your urgent gift now these families face the terrible distress of being separated over Christmas.
Don’t let families spend this Christmas feeling even more lost and alone.
The Leukaemia Foundation would like to acknowledge the below corporate supporters and their employees for their participation in this year's Christmas Appeal, and their dedication to helping families beat blood cancer.