Select language:  
1800 620 420
Close menu

Leukaemia Foundation’s pledge for First Nations communities affected by blood cancer

Saturday, May 27 2023

The Leukaemia Foundation is dedicated to addressing the distressing disparities in healthcare that contribute to the unfortunate number of blood cancer-related deaths among First Nations Australians.

In line with the theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023 (27 May to 3 June), Be a Voice for Generations, the Leukaemia Foundation proudly introduces Matthew Doyle, a cultural custodian and knowledge holder, as a national ambassador.

A descendant of the Muruwari people in New South Wales, Matthew grew up on the lands of the Dharawal and Gadigal people of Sydney. He is a professional musician, composer, dancer, choreographer, cultural consultant, and educator, with a passion for passing on and the sharing of cultural knowledges of the Sydney clans.

Mr Doyle endured the heartbreaking loss of his twin sons, Shawn and Jeremy, to blood cancer when they were one and two years old, respectively. He firmly believes that his heritage and culture enriched his sons’ lives, even in their brief time, and has shaped his own journey, since experiencing the darkest moments associated with blood cancer two decades ago.

“There’s not a day that goes past that I don’t think about my children. I think it’s also important that people tell their stories. There are painful memories, but there are lots of great memories as well. And those are what we focus on, and that’s what keeps us going,” Mr Doyle said.

Chris Tanti, CEO of the Leukaemia Foundation, expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with Mr Doyle in improving support for First Nations individuals affected by blood cancer and their families.

“We are so grateful to Matthew for sharing his own personal story of profound loss. I hope that his words, and his connection to his culture, will help others impacted by blood cancer know they are not alone,” Mr Tanti said.

“I look forward to benefiting from Matthew’s experience as we work together to provide culturally appropriate care and support for First Nations Australians and break down the barriers many still face when it comes to accessing treatment and support.”

Mr Doyle will support the Leukaemia Foundation’s work to deliver better outcomes for First Nations people living with blood cancer and their families, including providing evidence-based policy advice and amplifying the voices of First Nations people.

The Leukaemia Foundation is also striving every day to ensure First Nations peoples experience health and wellbeing equity alongside the wider Australian community. The organisation has launched five new information booklets designed and written specifically with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander blood cancer patients.

“A blood cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming and anxious time for anyone. For many First Nations people, their diagnosis could be the first time they have left their communities. These booklets harness the rich storytelling culture to help them understand their diagnosis and what to expect from treatment,” Mr Tanti said.

The first three booklets in the series cover a range of important topics, including information about blood and cancer, symptoms, tests and treatments like chemotherapy. The final two books in the series are all about stem cell transplants, a common treatment for blood cancer. The booklets can be downloaded from the Leukaemia Foundation website and will also be distributed to health clinics around the country.

Mr Tanti emphasised the Leukaemia Foundation’s unwavering commitment to collaborating with communities, healthcare organisations, the government and First Nations people to ensure culturally relevant supportive care for all.