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Tereena goes to her “happy place” when she’s in pain or discomfort

Tereena goes to her “happy place” when she’s in pain or discomfort

Tereena with alpacas

Tereena Cocks, 52, has practised meditation and visualisation almost as long as she’s been living with blood cancer, and that’s more than half her life.

She was 24 when she was diagnosed with essential thrombocythaemia (an MPN) and has had many different therapies over the years on watch and wait.

“My disease was ‘recalcitrant’,” said Tereena, “I’d constantly swing between really high counts and really low counts, with episodes of extremely painful clots or nasty bleeds.

“My maintenance therapy was a knife’s edge; it was very difficult for my haematology team to manage,” said Tereena, who lives with husband, Craig, on acreage, an hour south of Adelaide, with their two German shepherds and two alpacas.

Learning to manage pain

“When I was first diagnosed, I had a lot of bone pain. At a pain unit, I learnt self-hypnosis and autogenic relaxation*.

“Back in those days, I was an ambulance paramedic and didn’t want to have anything that would interfere with my cognition.

“So, I learnt other ways to cope with the discomfort, by natural means, rather than by taking opiate-type drugs,” she said.

“I’m an hour away from the nearest major hospital which means I’d have at least an hour of severe pain, and meditation helps a lot with that.

“And during admission, when I’d have tests like having a needle stuck into a joint, I’d just go off to my happy place.”

Benefits of relaxing deeply

“When you’ve got a bad illness and the doctors are all fluffing over you, your life is in a bit of a spin and you tend to lose control,” said Tereena.

“This whole relaxation thing helps when you’re out of your comfort zone and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just calm your whole body down. I find that to be absolutely wonderful.”

Relaxation technique

“I mainly do visualisation and autogenic relaxation,” she said.

“It involves finding a comfortable, relaxed position, and having a mantra that you go through in your mind.

“You think about your toes first, give your toes a bit of a wriggle, and internally say, ‘my toes are warm and relaxed’, and you wriggle them and let them relax.

“Then you give your calves a bit of a flex and say to yourself, ‘my calves are warm and relaxed’.

“You work your way up and through lots of different areas of your body and it’s amazing where you’ll find you’re holding on to tension.

“There’s a breathing part and when you get to your lungs, you take nice deep breaths in and out. It’s a really relaxing thing to do.”

Tereena said the amount of time she devotes to this practice depends on how much time she’s got and what she’s using it for.

“You can do it very quickly when you need to, but you can also take as much time as you like when you’ve got no other things to do. It’s just a matter of training.”

Myelofibrosis and leukaemia

In October last year, Tereena found out her disease had transformed to an aggressive form of myelofibrosis. Then two weeks later, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

When Tereena spoke to our Living Well e-News, she was Day 60 after having an allogeneic bone marrow transplant in April.

She used visualisation a lot while she was away from home for her transplant. And she had “a bit of assistance”.

“I’ve got external security cameras at my house and I can use my telephone to access my cameras when I’m away, in hospital.

“I have that in the background, and when I’m lying in the hospital room, I can picture myself at home and being well – it’s such a comfort.

“I can hear all the familiar noises of home and the sounds of the animals outside and the birds flying over.”

For people without home security cameras, Tereena suggests they record the sounds of home to listen to during lengthy periods of time in hospital.

“I was in a really bad state when I was in hospital. I had Grade 4 mucositis – the worst it can possibly get.

‘I couldn’t eat or drink a single thing and had TPN nutrition. It was really painful, and that’s when I’d go into my happy place, to get me through all of that.”

Coping with cancer

Having worked in the health industry all her life, Tereena knows the benefits of a good mental state.

During challenging times in hospital, she thinks to herself… “each minute is a minute I don’t have to have again”, “I don’t have to do the last five minutes again”, and “today’s a different day and one day closer [to recovering]”.

“I just plod on, one foot in front of the other, always steps forward,” said Tereena.

“And I live each day to the best of my capabilities, enjoying the little things and not worrying about what I can’t change.”

Soon after her diagnosis, Tereena read a book about living in the moment, written by Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. She’s still got The Miracle of Mindfulness on her bedside table.

“You can learn some amazing things from it,” said Tereena, who practises mindfulness daily, usually in the morning.

“It puts you in a really good mental attitude. You feel good about the day, before it starts.

“I honestly think that if you put all this positive stuff in and around you then that’s what happens in your day… it comes back to you.

“It’s not just for when you’re in pain or unwell, it’s something good to use in life every single day.”

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, helping to raise awareness of every blood cancer. Learn more.

* A technique that involves progressive relaxation of the body’s extremities, heartbeat stabilisation, and maintenance of slow, deep breaths.

Life’s good for Michael thanks to Ibrutinib

Life’s good for Michael thanks to Ibrutinib

Michael Van Ewik

For a couple of years Michael van Ewijk had been seeing his GP for sporadic “anaemia trouble” and this came to a head during a freelance job for National Parks NSW.

Michael, a commercial photographer and keen bushwalker, had headed off on a “hard bushwalk”, which he’d done several times before, with a big pack and cameras.

A short way in, he was struck with incredible fatigue.

“I collapsed, sat and waited 20 minutes before I could get up and walk a bit further,” said Michael, and the same thing happened again and again.

“Stupidly, I kept going and finished the walk.”

Blood cancer diagnosis

Afterwards, Michael saw his GP and blood tests resulted in a “very strange reading”. More blood tests initially indicated a blood cancer called myeloma, then a more uncommon type of blood cancer called Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia (WM). He’d never heard of either condition.

“When my GP, a long-term friend, told me, I grinned and said, ‘oh yeah, what’s that?’.

“His face was pretty grim when he explained ‘that’s why I don’t like having friends as patients: you’ve got cancer’.

“Then the penny dropped. I got a bit shocked and of course I went online and scared the hell out of myself.”

Bone marrow biopsy

Michael saw a haematologist, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed he had WM, and over the next six years while on ‘watch and wait’ his life carried on as normal but with “periods of fatigue”.

He had a “healthy lifestyle”, his diet was “good”, he wasn’t overweight, and he was “reasonably fit”. He continued cycling most days, as he had done for the previous 25 years, and made a couple of trips back to the Netherlands, his country of birth.

While his health was stable, Michael also continued to travel each year to Ethiopia in his voluntary role with the charity, Eyes For Africa, that provided cataract operations to the poor living in remote parts of the country.

“Gradually things deteriorated and at the end of 2011 my haematologist said let’s do some chemotherapy,” said Michael.

He tried to ride his bike during his six rounds of CDR chemotherapy – cyclophosphamide, dexamethasone and rituximab – which he completed in February 2012. And the following month, he went on a “mammoth” three-day ride with his son, covering 580km from Brisbane to the Darling Downs and back.

Immune thrombocytopenia

But later that year, Michael’s immunoglobulin M (IgM) level started rising again and he ran the risk of stroke or heart failure due to a thickening of his blood. When his haematologist suggested a course of fludarabine plus rituximab, he hesitated.

“It’s a very strong, toxic chemo that can damage the bone marrow,” said Michael, who sought a second opinion before going ahead with the treatment in September 2013.

“I had one treatment and three weeks later, half an hour into the next round, I went into anaphylactic shock.”

Needless to say, Michael didn’t keep going with this protocol. He had developed immune thrombocytopenia.

After waking one night with blood covering his pillow, Michael was admitted to hospital. His platelet count was zero and it took three weeks and a massive dose of steroids to get his platelets back to a safe level. He described this incident as “the worst experience I’d ever had”.

“But the one round of fludarabine did knock the IgM down and I got some breathing space,” he said.

Next, Michael tried bortezomib (Velcade®) but that also dropped his platelet count to a dangerously low level.

Clinical trial

“I’d been to several conferences and heard [Professor] Judith Trotman speak and wanted a second opinion. It was fortuitous that I saw her just as the ibrutinib trial was starting.”

Michael wasn’t eligible for the two arms of the trial that included rituximab as he had already had that treatment, so he went on a third arm for the trial drug on its own.

And he ‘hasn’t looked back’ since he started taking three ibrutinib* tablets (Imbruvica®) each morning.

When he went on the ‘ibrutinib only’ arm of iNNOVATE – a Phase III international clinical trial – he was the first Australian to have this new treatment as a monotherapy, and it’s been lifesaving.

“My life is normal now,” said Michael, 69, of Milton in regional NSW.

“It’s a pill for life. I’m still on the trial and it still works!” said Michael whose immunoglobulin M (IgM) level is sitting just over 3mg/dl (milligrams per decilitre).

It was 25mg/dl when he was diagnosed with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (WM) in May 2005.

Now, even though the iNNOVATE trial has closed, he still takes those three tablets every morning.

“My only side-effects include mild diarrhoea, which I hardly ever get now and it’s not difficult to deal with. I bleed more easily and get bruising under the skin and sometimes my long-distance vision is affected,” he said.

Life with cancer

“Life hasn’t changed really. Life’s pretty good,” said Michael about having WM.

“I had a marriage breakdown and have a lovely partner now – Elizabeth.  We’ve been together four years and do a lot of travelling.

“One thing has changed – I’ve basically given up alcohol. I used to have a good cellar of red wine but decided alcohol is maybe not the best thing for me, so I sold off my wine.”

He’s also cut back on sugary foods but can’t give up dark chocolate.

“I’ve realised I’m lucky because I’ve got this incurable cancer and it hasn’t really affected my life.

“I can do everything I normally want to do, and I’m sure I’m fitter than most guys 20 years younger than me. I’m not trying to skite, but I ride with blokes younger than me and I can keep up with them.

“Most of the time, I’m not even thinking I’ve got this cancer. In the early days, yes, but not now. I don’t anguish or stress about it at all.”

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Being on a trial means Michael’s script for ibrutinib is guaranteed on an ongoing basis for as long as it is effective and until the drug is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“The pharmaceutical company [Janssen] is about to put in a submission [to the PBAC],” said Michael.

“It should be on the PBS. It really does work for people with this cancer [WM].

“Ibrutinib has saved my life and my quality of life is just great. I’d be struggling without it.”

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, helping to raise awareness of every blood cancerLearn more.

*Ibrutinib was recommended for registration for CLL/SLL by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on 20 April 2015. In November 2016, a new indication for Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia was added, and the CLL/SLL indication modified.

Jeanette takes nothing for granted

Jeanette takes nothing for granted

Jeanette Kingston and family on the beach

Darwin mother-of-two Jeanette Kingston, 41, never takes a single day for granted.

When she was diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma on August 14, 2018 she thought death was knocking at her door. With two young children, Brayden, nine, and seven-year-old Tahlia, Jeanette made up her mind to fight for her life.

With husband Matthew by her side, she won the first round, taking on chemotherapy at the Darwin Hospital before being sent to Adelaide for an autologous stem cell transplant. Right from the start she knew she’d be faced with a second with specialists advising back to back transplants would give her the best chance of a cancer free future.

Stem cell transplant

“The biggest thing I have learned from it all is that before cancer, I just took life for granted,” Jeanette said.

“But I quickly learned tomorrow isn’t promised. The biggest blessing is now – I don’t take anything for granted. I have young kids, I want to be around as long as I can.”

Jeanette will be undertaking her second stem cell transplant during May – Myeloma Awareness Month.

Jeanette first began experiencing flu like symptoms after an overseas trip home to Denmark. She thought she had picked up the typical bug on the plane. But – days later she still wasn’t feeling better. In fact her symptoms were getting worse. She went to the doctor but at first, they didn’t suspect anything too menacing.

Cancer blood test

When she woke with her heart racing a few nights later – once again a doctor’s visit didn’t awaken any suspicions. Her blood counts were a bit low. The ECG was normal. But a few days later, Jeanette could barely get out of bed. On August 7 she was taken to hospital, and blood tests revealed she had “some kind of cancer”.

“The doctor explained my chances were a bit like rolling a six-sided dice – five out of the six sides would mean I had some kind of cancer.” The sixth option was that it wasn’t cancer but some kind of false indication. “Unfortunately I didn’t roll a six,” Jeanette said. “I was diagnosed with myeloma on August 14.”

Like many people, she first thought her diagnosis was melanoma. She had never heard of myeloma. She then undertook a treatment regime of tablets and intravenous chemotherapy, but was told her best chance of long term survival were back to back, autologous stem cell transplants (the second to be undertaken in May 2019).

Cancer diagnosis

Jeanette explains her cancer diagnosis has changed her perspective on life. She went to a psychologist to help her gain a more positive mindset. In fact, the whole family went to see a psychologist. She said this was an important part of her journey. Having a strong mindset helped her to cope with the uncertainty of the diagnosis, and to realise she could beat the disease.

“It gave me a kick in the butt,” she said. “We live life a little differently. We live a different type of ‘normal’, but we know I am lucky to still be here to live it.”

“That’s been the biggest blessing. Now, we don’t take anything for granted. We live in the moment and enjoy what we’ve got.”

CAR-T cell therapy

Jeanette and her family are busy making plans for the future and ticking things off the bucket list. They are hoping to have a family holiday in Queensland and Jeanette is hoping to rejoin her friends for her annual Bali escape in December – which she missed in 2018 due to her diagnosis.

She is interested in the breakthroughs happening in blood cancer treatment including immunology and CAR-T cell therapy and is optimistic about her future should she relapse at any time – knowing that medicine is progressing and is on her side.

“We take it day by day and make the most of it.”

“Every two weeks I need two bags of blood”

“Every two weeks I need two bags of blood”

Amber Walker has relied on fortnightly blood transfusions since being told she had blood cancer for the second time.

After conquering blood cancer three years ago, Amber was devastated to learn that she had another blood disease in April 2020.

“I had been really sick since the previous November and was nauseous or vomiting nearly every day,” explained the 27-year-old.

Amber Walker in hospital
Amber rocking her bald head during treatment.

“They eventually confirmed I hadn’t exactly relapsed, but I had a very similar blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome.”

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS or myelodysplasia) are a group of diseases which all affect the production of normal blood cells in the bone marrow.

Amber has since relied on fortnightly blood transfusions while her medical team determined whether she will need chemotherapy or a transplant.

“Every two weeks I need two bags of blood to keep my red blood cell levels up,” Amber said.

“I definitely notice the difference after having a transfusion. It’s like drinking an energy drink and you feel ready to go again for the week.”

Amber is incredibly grateful for blood donors who have given her a lifeline while she plays the waiting game.

“I’d honestly not be here if it weren’t for all those who donate, it really does save lives,” said Amber.

“I heard on the radio the other day that donated blood only lasts 42 days. That really stuck with me. We’re always going to need more blood because there is no infinite supply.

“You never think about it until you really need it. To anyone considering donating please don’t wait, just go and get it done.

“I’ve even convinced my sister and mum to do it. Their blood may not come to me, but it could save so many others who really need it.

“You just have to think it could be your sister, mum, partner one day – this disease doesn’t discriminate.

Amber Walker and partner Cal
Amber with her partner, Cal who has been her “rock”.

“I only wish I had donated more before I got sick.”

In early June 2020, Amber was told she would need a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated matched donor. Again, she will need to rely on the generosity of a stranger to give her a second chance.

“I think this second time around has been harder because I have time to think about it and mull it over,” said Amber.

“I’m so god-damned scared, but I’m equally keen to get it done and get on with my life.”

Until then she will continue to have her fortnightly transfusions, owing her life to the many wonderful Aussies who choose to donate blood.

If you’re 18-76 years old, healthy and weigh over 50kg, you may be able to give blood. Visit donateblood.com.au to see if you’re eligible or to make an appointment.

Leukaemia Foundation partners with new fitness app that turns exercise into a game

Leukaemia Foundation partners with new fitness app that turns exercise into a game

Thursday 18 June, 2020 

The Leukaemia Foundation is proud to announce a charity partnership with District, which provides a new and innovative way to support the 41 men, women and children diagnosed with blood cancer in Australia every day – by encouraging people to get active and explore their city.

District uses cutting-edge experiential technology to bring cities to life and turn a monotonous workout into an urban exploration game. Perfect for all adult ages and fitness levels, the District app transforms an everyday walk, jog or run routine to a fun individual or team outdoor adventure challenge with virtual checkpoints across your local city.

A generous $8 from every District ticket sold will go to support Australians living with blood cancer. Currently, there are more than 110,000 Australians diagnosed with blood cancer and the Leukaemia Foundation’s latest Blood Cancer in Australia report confirms that in just 15 years, by 2035, this number will more than double to 235,000 people[1].

Leukaemia Foundation General Manager of Supporters Rachael Lance said that by getting active and raising funds through District, participants will be doing something positive for their own health, while also ensuring that all families affected by blood cancer across the country, no matter where they live, can be supported.

“By downloading District and signing up, you are making sure that every Australian facing blood cancer will have someone to turn to every step of the way to access the right information, the best treatment and supportive care.” Ms Lance said.

“Blood cancer is one of the most common, costly and fatal cancers in Australia. There are no screening programs available for blood cancers, and there is no way to prevent blood cancer through lifestyle change.”

“As we strive to help all Australian families affected by blood cancer, we are grateful for the collaboration with District, which would help meet the growing demand on vital patient services in the post-COVID-19 environment,” Ms Lance added.

Utilising GPS geolocation, Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality, District is reimagining urban exploration and community running on a global scale, offering users around the world multiple types of challenges, interactive live leaderboards to track their progress and fun features such as points, badges and prizes to stay motivated and engaged.

“Staying active and connected has never been as important as now, so we encourage all Australians looking for a way to shake up their fitness routine and explore their city like never before to download District, register an account and take up the challenge.”

“Whether you’re a walker, casual runner or ready for some competition running there’s a race challenge for you, and that means there’s an opportunity to play your part in raising essential funds to help save lives,” Ms Lance said.

To learn more about District, go to rebrand.ly/districtraceau2020 or you can use the full link: https://exploredistrict.com/event/district-race-au-2020

To download District, go to Apple Store or get it on Google Play.

-ENDS-

[1] http://www.leukaemia.org.au/how-we-can-help/advocacy-and-policy/state-of-the-nation-my-life-counts/state-of-the-nation-download/

Cancer-related fatigue – what it is, how it can affect you and how to manage it

Cancer-related fatigue – what it is, how it can affect you and how to manage it

For many people living with blood cancer, cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a side-effect that has an enormous impact on their quality of life.

What is fatigue?

Managing fatigue.

In these videos, a Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator, Andrew Smith talks about fatigue: what it is, how it can affect your life, and what you can do about it, including practical tips and strategies.

CRF is very different from normal, everyday tiredness and fatigue, where a good night’s sleep means you feel energised and refreshed the next day.

Despite sleeping for long periods, people with CRF wake feeling exhausted and don’t have enough energy to face the things they need or want to do in their everyday life. This type of fatigue has a negative impact on their day-to-day life.

Physically, CRF can feel like a heaviness or weakness, or a cognitive or mental feeling of fogginess, and of not being ‘switched on’.

The cause is not usually just one thing, but several. The blood cancer itself and cancer treatment can contribute to CRF, as can your previous level of fitness, overall health, previous medical issues, or a medical condition such as having a low red blood cell count.

It is important to get the latest up-to-date information to understand what CRF is and isn’t.

The effect of CRF can be mild, moderate or severe in how it affects you. Work out where you sit on this spectrum and whether it’s affecting your work or daily life.

If it’s highly-moderate to severe, consider asking one of our blood cancer support coordinators to connect you with a relevant health professional in your local community, such as an occupational therapist, exercise physiologist or a physiotherapist, who is good at managing this side-effect.

Also, map your energy levels throughout the day and across the week, to identify persistent low energy levels, and look for patterns in your energy levels.

Then you can apply the ‘three Ps’ – planning, prioritising and pacing – an energy conservation technique to maintain your health and well-being.

There’s always something you can do for yourself to improve your quality of life and lessen the effect of CRF. This includes getting quality information, connecting to the right people, and getting specialised support.

News flash: The Leukaemia Foundation has a new blood cancer information and education YouTube channel – the home of trusted information about blood cancer.

“Thank you for bringing us together”

“Thank you for bringing us together”

Paul at his wedding

A blood cancer diagnosis can be a lonely, isolating time. Our supporters help people going through blood cancer to make connections, talk with others going through the same struggle and build their confidence to take on treatment.

Paul ‘Burt’ Burfield struggled through months of rib and back pain in the lead up to his diagnosis with an incurable blood cancer in early 2018.

“I had a bit of a rollercoaster diagnosis, at one point being told I had lung cancer and two years to live,” remembers Burt. “But in the end, they found out it was blood cancer and I would need a stem cell transplant to survive.”

While Burt and Kelly were given all the medical facts, they were still keen to chat with others who had been through a transplant themselves.

The Burfields connected with Brendan and Roxanne Hodda, who had experienced their own transplant journey when Brendan was diagnosed with leukaemia. The Hodda family also stayed in free-of-charge accommodation during Brendan’s treatment thanks to our generous supporters.

Burt and Kelly on their wedding day
Burt and Kelly on their wedding day with Roxanne as celebrant.

“They really put our minds at ease, answering all the big questions, telling us what to expect and running us through the whole process,” said Burt.

“They were more on our level and could give us insight into all those moments when your doctors or nurses aren’t there. When we were at home and having a bad day – I could just ring them up. Roxy would tell me ‘no, this is totally normal, this is exactly where he needs to be.’ It was so reassuring.”

“Throughout the whole thing Roxy and Brendan have been there – we can’t thank everyone enough for their support and for bringing us together, it’s been invaluable.”

Burt and Kelly travelled to Brisbane for the transplant earlier this year. Their stay in the city was a little easier with access to free Leukaemia Foundation accommodation.

Burt passed through the transplant with flying colours and was back home three weeks later.

Already engaged, it was during Burt’s treatment that Kelly decided to start planning for their wedding.

“And who better to marry us than Roxy? She was already a celebrant, knows exactly what it took for Burt to be here and how special it is that we can all share this together.”

Burt and Kelly were married by Roxanne on 7 June 2019 starting their new life as Mr and Mrs Burfield.

Letter from Roxanne to Burt and Kelly
Letter from Roxanne to Burt and Kelly

Thank you to our supporters for connecting these two families together – you’ve helped build a lifelong friendship and now, happy marriage! This support helps families like these find comfort and knowledge through special connections with their blood cancer peers.

This story was shared for our Lifeblood newsletter and features here as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2019 and World Marrow Donor Day.

Making sure someone’s always there

Making sure someone’s always there

Rhys Marshall during treatment

The generosity of our supporters means every person diagnosed with a blood cancer is given a helping hand and friendly face to help them through this turbulent time.

Diagnosed with a blood cancer a day before his 24th birthday, Rhys Marshall was faced with a world of uncertainty. Luckily, Rhys was put in contact with Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator, Amber to help him navigate through his blood cancer journey.

Here Rhys takes you through the many ways Amber supported him – all made possible by our generous supporters.

“My blood cancer coordinator, Amber, is Wonder Woman to me.”

Blood Cancer Support Coordinator Amber

Rhys could learn about and understand his blood cancer…

“Honestly, I had never heard of lymphoma before. I’m fairly curious and like to know what’s happening in my body and what the treatment is trying to achieve. When I got diagnosed, Amber provided all the Leukaemia Foundation info booklets and always made the time to talk to me through the information and answer my questions.”

Rhys’ partner, Allanah, was supported through the mental battles…

“My partner, Allanah, had stayed so strong throughout the treatment, but when I relapsed she started to struggle mentally. Amber made the trip to our hometown and called in to have a chat about everything. I know Allanah took some comfort in learning what she was feeling was normal. After that, she felt so much better.”

Rhys had a clean and safe home so he could recover quicker…

“When I had to have my first transplant in another city, I was dreading having to organize accommodation for me and my family. I was so grateful to be provided an amazing unit – completely free of charge. It was extremely clean and fit for purpose, it had everything I needed for my recovery. As the transplant involved wiping out my immune system, it was imperative that I stayed in a clean, isolated environment. Some of the nurses said they felt that having such a place to stay, was the reason my recovery was shortened from the normal five weeks to just three.”

I have another transplant coming up that I will have to travel interstate for. Amber has already been in contact with the Leukaemia Foundation staff there to make sure I’m marked as a priority for a unit – I couldn’t be more grateful!”

Rhys had the confidence to take on treatment…

“When I found out I needed another transplant, this time from a foreign donor – I got really worried about all the terrible side effects that can happen. I called Amber and told her how stressed I was, that I didn’t know if I should even do it. She told me; “You know the doctors wouldn’t have recommended it if they didn’t think you needed it…I really think you should give it a go but let me give you all the information to make sure you make the best decision for you.”

 Rhys’ bills were covered so he could focus on his health…

“One of the best things was the Leukaemia Foundation offering to cover all our phone, electrical and utility bills while I was getting treatment. The value of that type of support cannot be understated – it’s the last thing you want to think about when you’re trying to focus on getting better.”

Rhys Marshall post treatment

Thank you to our generous supporters for being there for Rhys through every step of his blood cancer journey. While Amber is Wonder Woman to Rhys, our supporters are superheroes too for making this all possible! 

Family’s legacy driving next generation of researchers

Family’s legacy driving next generation of researchers

The Fredericks Family

A generous gift from the Frederiks Foundation will help support the next generation of Australian blood cancer researchers.

Cor Frederik (1927 – 2017) was a businessman, scholar, author, investor, art collector and company director with a busy accounting practice in suburban Brisbane.

Cor was a strong, giving man with an altruistic heart. He believed in giving back to the community and the power of education.

Cor lost his wife of 15 years, Pauline, to blood cancer at just 33 years old – leaving him to raise five young children between the ages of 3-14 years old.

In 2006, he established the Frederiks Foundation, and when he passed away in 2017 his children came together to honour his lifelong ethos to give generously.

The family has dedicated $530,000 to the Leukaemia Foundation’s Research Endowment to support PhD Scholarships in support of Australia’s brightest blood cancer minds.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO, Bill Petch said the gift is an extraordinary investment in the future of blood cancer research in Australia:

“This support will give early career researchers the encouragement, resources and networks to generate new ideas and approaches for tackling blood cancers.

“These scholarships are an important part of our National Research Program and will be delivered in partnership with the peak body for haematology researchers and medical professionals.”

Cor’s son, Paul Frederiks, said his father would be proud to see the money invested with a cause so close to his family’s heart.

“Dad was incredibly hardworking and never stopped learning – he worked and studied right up until his death. He truly believed in the power of education, and we wanted to honour that with this gift,” Paul said.

“Losing our mother to blood cancer at such a young age had a profound impact on all of us kids – it changed so much in our lives then and definitely influenced how we grew up and who we became.

“Supporting the Leukaemia Foundation is ensuring our Mum’s legacy and supporting the training and education of blood cancer researchers is ensuring our Dad’s.

“If the advances in research we have seen in the last 30 years were around when Mum was diagnosed, maybe she would have lived longer. I think Dad would have been very proud of our decision to support this worthy cause.”

Cowboy Ethan takes his hat off to you

Cowboy Ethan takes his hat off to you

Cowboy Ethan

Many of you met our superstar cowboy Ethan during tax time in 2019 and were inspired to give generously to provide families with a sanctuary from blood cancer –thank you so much!

Ethan was only two years old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. The whole family having to leave home so he could receive life-saving treatment in a far-away city.

We are happy to let you know Ethan is safely back home with mum, dad and his new baby sister, Ivy – who was born while the family was staying at the Leukaemia Foundation village.

Cowboy Ethan himself visited some lucky supporters at the village recently, charming the socks off them – even convincing some to sign up as regular giving supporters!

“While we have a while to go, we are looking forward to the end of the treatment so our brave boy can rediscover a normal life, feel well and simply play with friends. Just normal kid stuff.” said dad, Trent.