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Generous family legacy helps fund blood cancer researchers of tomorrow

Generous family legacy helps fund blood cancer researchers of tomorrow

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The memory of a mother lost to blood cancer and the strength and generosity of a family left behind has led to a lasting legacy to help support the brightest young minds in blood cancer research.

The Frederiks Foundation was the legacy of Brisbane accountant Cor Frederiks who lost his wife of 15 years to leukaemia. When Mr Frederiks passed away in 2017 his six children came together to honour his lifelong ethos to give generously.

The Foundation donated an incredible $530,000 to support PhD scholarships for scientists and clinicians in the field of blood cancer. The funds will be directed to the Leukaemia Foundation Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) New Investigator PhD Scholarship fund.

Julian Lindsay from the National Centre for Infections in Cancer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne has been awarded the inaugural Frederiks Foundation scholarship valued at $120,000 over the next three years. He will visit the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Washington, USA, to undertake part of his PhD research which will look at addressing critical knowledge gaps to help prevent infections in patients with blood cancers, and those undergoing bone marrow transplants.

His work will look at infections such as cytomegalovirus, eptstein-barr virus and invasive fungal infection which affect blood cancer patients with highly suppressed immune systems due to chemotherapy and transplantation.

“Although we’ve made leaps and bounds in the last 10 years in managing transplant related infections, up to 10 per cent of patients still die after allogenic transplant,” Mr Lindsay said.

“I’d like to see that reduced to zero.

“My PhD is looking at ways to fine tune how we transplant, using drugs more effectively to reduce side effects and to improve survival and quality of life. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the funding showed how generous endowments from families like the Frederiks Foundation can have a lasting impact and help advance improved outcomes for Australians living with blood cancers.

“Donations like the one received from the Frederiks Foundation allow us to continue to invest in Australian blood cancer research and to support the next generation of researchers, driving innovative research for better treatments, better care and ultimately a cure for blood cancer,” Mr Petch said.

The Leukaemia Foundation HSANZ New PhD Scholarships are part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program which has seen more than $50 million invested into blood cancer research since 2002.

The Leukaemia Foundation partners with HSANZ – the peak body for haematology researchers and medical professionals – each year, awarding three, three-year PhD scholarships to the brightest young minds.

Over the past 17 years the National Research Program has supported 355 researchers and co-investigators to undertake 260 research projects through PhD scholarships, clinical and post-doctoral fellowships and research grants.

The investment into research has contributed to the development of many new techniques and therapies which are now either undergoing clinical trials or are being used in clinics as part of everyday therapy. This includes treatments like Venetoclax, bortezomib, CAR T-cell therapy and liquid biopsies for blood cancers – a world first.

“Investment in researchers to accelerate advances in treatment and next generation therapies are key to Australians both surviving these diseases, and leading the best possible quality of life,” Mr Petch said.

To find out how to support the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program call 1800 620 420.

Subscribe to receive the Leukaemia Foundation’s news and updates here.

Aussies urged to answer the call

Aussies urged to answer the call

Thursday 5 December 2019

Aussies who dare take on the world’s top obstacle race course can now rise to the challenge of supporting those facing one of the toughest battles of all, with the Leukaemia Foundation combining forces with Spartan Race to tackle blood cancer.

For the first time ever, Spartans taking to the starting line of Spartan Race events Australia wide have a chance to join the Leukaemia Foundation’s Team Beat Blood Cancer and channel their sweat and tears into fundraising to help see zero lives lost to the complex set of diseases by 2035.

A report recently released by the Leukaemia Foundation found that by 2035, 275,000 Australians will be living with blood cancer – more than double the number of people battling these diseases today. It also shows that up to 186,000 people may die as a result of blood cancer over the next 16 years.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said funds raised by generous Australians who dedicate their Spartan Race to people facing a blood cancer diagnosis would help meet the growing demand on vital patient services and support the Leukaemia Foundation to continue to fund ground-breaking blood cancer research.

“Funds raised by Spartans competing for Team Beat Blood Cancer are critical to help the Leukaemia Foundation continue to support Australian families affected by blood cancer through advocating for equal access to new therapies and treatments as well as providing educational, emotional and practical support such as transport and accommodation,” he said.

“This is a chance for Australians to truly answer the call to greatness, not only for themselves, but in support of the 41 children, adults, parents and grandparents diagnosed with blood cancer every day.”

Harnessing the fastest growing participant sport in the world, Spartan Australia is innovating obstacle racing on a global scale, running more than 130 races around the world annually, including three core Spartan Races each escalating in distance, obstacle count and challenge level.

Spartan Australia Managing Director Chris Heverin said: “Spartans pride themselves on resilience staring down a course riddled with challenges including barbed wire, walls, rope and heights. But overcoming a blood cancer diagnosis was another challenge entirely and one that no Australian should have to face. And now every Spartan has the chance to personally change lives and make a difference themselves by signing up to race for the Leukaemia Foundation and joining the fight against blood cancer.

“We also encourage all Leukaemia Foundation supporters, looking for a way to shake up their fitness routine or chasing an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget, to challenge themselves by signing up for a Spartan Race and raise funds to help change lives.

“Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, a reluctant gym goer or haven’t broken a sweat in years, there’s a race type for you, and that means there’s an opportunity to play your part in supporting Australians battling these diseases,” Mr Heverin said.

There are six chances to race for Team Beat Blood Cancer at Spartan Australia events:

  • 7 December 2019 – Melbourne City, VIC
  • 7 March 2020 – Oberon, NSW
  • 28 March 2020 – Melbourne, VIC
  • 7 April 2020 – Latrobe Valley, VIC
  • 9 May 2020 – Port Stephens, NSW
  • 6 June 2020 – Sunshine Coast, QLD

To register for Team Beat Blood Cancer to race for the Leukaemia Foundation or for more information, visit https://spartan.www.leukaemia.org.au/.

To find out more about Spartan Australia, visit www.spartanrace.com.au

Leukaemia Foundation joins Giving Tuesday Australia

Leukaemia Foundation joins Giving Tuesday Australia

Generous Australians are encouraged to help the Leukaemia Foundation put a present under the Christmas Tree for children living with blood cancer as part of this year’s Giving Tuesday Australia.

Blood cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma remain the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancers in Australian children aged 0-14.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said donating funds on Giving Tuesday would help the Leukaemia Foundation spread a little Christmas joy for those families fighting the disease.

“Many Australian children undergoing life-saving treatment are far from home and living in an unfamiliar world of uncertainty and turmoil,” Mr Petch said.

“For those families living through a childhood blood cancer diagnosis, there’s often just no time to think about Christmas.

“But a donation as part of the Giving Tuesday appeal can ensure the Leukaemia Foundation can make sure Santa can find them.”

Mr Petch said this holiday season, children right across Australia will spend Christmas in hospital or at a Leukaemia Foundation accommodation facility. Parents are often unable to work through the lengthy treatment process children face fighting the disease.

“Financial stress is an enormous reality for these families. Parent have to drop everything in order to focus on the care and treatment needed. A small donation can make the world of difference for these families on Christmas Day.”

Just $29 can give a child a Christmas Stocking full of treats, $53 can buy a toy and book pack, and $82 can provide a Christmas surprise for the whole family.

Australians can give a gift at https://leukaemia-foundation.giveeasy.org/leukaemia-foundation-christmas-appeal-2019-giving-tuesday.

Subscribe to receive the Leukaemia Foundation’s news and updates here.