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“I needed two transfusions to make my daughter’s wedding”

Des and daughter Jessica

Des Paddon says he owes his life to a clinical trial for the drug venetoclax – an experimental therapy that Leukaemia Foundation supporters helped to kick start.

Des will spend Father’s Day 2017 reflecting on family, including how much his two daughters supported him during his blood cancer treatment.

“Jessica and Naomy don’t live nearby, but they’re always there when I need them,” said Des.

In early 2014, seven years after he was diagnosed with a blood cancer called chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), Des had run out of treatment options.

His blood cancer had mutated, chemotherapy had become ineffective and he could barely walk.

Three days before Jessica’s wedding, he was hospitalised. But the retired builder was determined to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Doctors conceded to him leaving hospital for six hours – but only after two blood transfusions.

“I gave Jessica away,” he said.

“It took a lot out of me but I was there and danced with her at the reception, before going back to hospital.”

It was Des’ haematologist who then told him about the venetoclax trial and he became one of the first Australians accepted on the US-led study.

Incredibly, after 18 months, Des was told he was “totally clear”.

“You’re not cast as cured, the CLL is just under control,” he explained.

Venetoclax was first developed here in Australia and Leukaemia Foundation supporters helped provide funding for early work on its precursor.