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A family stronger than ever, with you by their side

“Life just stopped. Everything stopped.”

That’s how Sarina Dodd describes the day her husband Chris rang from hospital with shocking news:

“I’ve got leukaemia. They’re telling me I’m going to be in hospital here for a month.”

Those 16 words carried the heavy weight of so much unknown.

Chris and Nathan on the day of Chris's stem cell transplant
Chris and Nathan on the day of Chris’s stem cell transplant

The scariest thought

For parents Chris and Sarina, the diagnosis was scary.

But the scariest thought of all? The thought of their family of four being torn apart, possibly forever.

Sarina broke the news to their children, Brooke and Nathan: Chris wasn’t coming home and needed urgent treatment to try and save his life.

“It was really hard to tell them. Normally Chris would be home every night, and suddenly he wasn’t,” says Sarina.

Blow after blow

In the first few weeks after Chris’s diagnosis, life continued to unravel. Genetic testing revealed exactly what he was facing.

“The doctors said, ‘You’ve got acute myeloid leukaemia, and a particularly nasty and rare version of it,’” remembers Chris.

The bad news continued.

“At the end of that first round of chemo, they said to Chris, ‘You need to go home and get your affairs in order.’ They were not expecting Chris’s journey to be a good one,” says Sarina.

Dodd Family
Thanks to you, the Dodd family were able to fight blood cancer together

Their best chance

Everything changed when Chris was offered a new treatment option – a stem cell transplant in Brisbane.

 A stem cell transplant replaces blood stem cells in people whose bone marrow has been destroyed by large doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The new blood stem cells, which may come from a donor, rebuild the patient’s blood and immune systems.

Unable to find a complete donor match, doctors proposed using Nathan, Chris’s son, who was a partial match.

It was their family’s best chance, but they urgently needed to relocate near the hospital, 11 hours away from home.

With the stakes so high, your generosity made all the difference.

Stronger together

You gave them a critical lifeline, a Leukaemia Foundation family apartment close to hospital in Brisbane.

“I was absolutely blown away by the accommodation that we were given for absolutely nothing,” says Sarina.

Thanks to you, their family could be a united force fighting blood cancer together.

“We’ve always been a very close family. And Nathan, being Chris’s donor, it just felt right. It just felt great that the four of us were going to tackle this together,” explains Sarina.

Your support gave Chris the best chance of survival access to a new treatment option and his family to get him through.

“Having my family there during that time is the reason I’m alive. I could not have done that time without them,” says Chris.

Holistic support

Sarina reflects on how your contributions made sure caring Blood Cancer Support Coordinators were by her side during this challenging time.

“The support coordinators were there to listen and to help us process what was going on. I just can’t imagine what we would’ve done had the help not been there.”

With your help, our expert Blood Cancer Support Coordinators connected with Australians facing blood cancer more than 26,000 times last year, providing practical and emotional support.

A milestone celebration

Fast forward five years. There’s celebratory cheesecake, smiles and a moment to reflect on how far their family has come.

“At the time of the transplant, you couldn’t even imagine reaching that five-year mark. You couldn’t imagine a day when life was going to be normal again,” says Sarina.

But your support has helped make that unimaginable, normal day possible.

Chris is in remission, and family life has returned to a welcome, chaotic normality once more.

“I’m doing great. The odds of me being able to say that were astoundingly slim, but I am,” says Chris.

“We feel like we have a future,” adds Sarina.

Thank you

Chris and Sarina are so thankful for all you’ve done. You’ve been there for families like theirs, giving them the best chance of a future together.

“I owe my life to a community I didn’t really know existed before I got sick. Thank you to everyone; I will always be grateful,” says Chris.

This family’s story is ready for the next beautiful chapter, and you’ve helped them turn the page. Thank you so much.