Leukaemia Foundation

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We’re working towards zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035

The Leukaemia Foundation is the Australian charity stopping blood cancer from wrecking lives. 
Today, 53 Australians will be told the heartbreaking news that they’ve been diagnosed with a blood cancer, joining more than 135,000 people living with the devastating impact of the country's second most diagnosed cancer.

Blood cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone. And after a diagnosis, it can be nearly impossible to know where to turn.

This is where – with your help – one of the Leukaemia’s Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator comes in. 

This Australia-wide team of support specialists works to provide emotional support, information and care for not only patients, but families and carers impacted by blood cancer. Because we know blood cancer takes its toll on parents, children, siblings and carers, too.

Blood Cancer Support Coordinators also connect people with practical help, such as transport and accommodation support, so they can focus on the most important thing – getting better.

Like a caring coach in your corner, these incredible Blood Cancer Support Coordinators are there for everyone facing blood cancer, helping people feel strong and supported when they need it most. In person, over the phone and online, they provide personalised support to anyone who needs it, regardless of where they live.

This year, your Dry July fundraising will directly fund the work of the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Cancer Support Team across the country.

Go Dry this July and help give life-changing support to Australians affected by blood cancer.

Latest Updates

Tahlia's Story

"Life with blood cancer and after cancer is tumultuous, filled with ups and downs," says 21-year-old, blood cancer survivor Tahlia. "But the support of the Leukaemia Foundation makes each step in this difficult journey easier."

Sixteen years ago, Tahlia's mum Sandra felt her world unravel when her four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with blood cancer. When Tahlia seemed tired and "out of sorts", Sandra didn't think much of it. But the doctor at Royal Children's Hospital in Herston called with shocking news.

"Her body and her marrow and her bones are packed with leukaemic cells. You need to come to Brisbane now."

What followed was a gruelling period of childhood blood cancer treatment, far away from home. Critically, Tahlia's family was supported by an experienced Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator during this challenging time, guiding them through with emotional, financial and practical support.

"I know my parents felt like their lives were spiralling out of control at diagnosis and the help and services offered by the Leukaemia Foundation were like a safety net," says Tahlia. "In a devastating and chaotic time, the Leukaemia Foundation was the only place that provided mum with a sense of certainty and clarity.”

Childhood leukaemia treatment

Tahlia endured many rare side effects from her treatment, including life-threatening reactions to some of the chemotherapy drugs. In the first six weeks of treatment alone, she was admitted to ICU three times, fighting septicaemia, thrombosis in her brain and an anaphylactic response. Only snippets of memories from this time come back to Tahlia, something she's grateful for given everything she had to go through. "I only have a few solid memories, like how a steroid tasted or the anaesthesia smelled. Lots of my treatments involved butterfly needles and cannulas and I remember them being painful because some nurses struggled to find veins.

New challenges today

Although Tahlia doesn't remember much about her blood cancer diagnosis, she's still feeling its impact as a young adult today. Unfortunately, Tahlia's intense treatment as a child has led to new medical conditions.

"I've developed avascular necrosis in my ankle, which is where bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. I've had to have resulting surgery and ongoing chronic pain management," explains Tahlia. "Another two drugs I was treated with have side effects that impact fertility in childhood cancer survivors."

"Even now, the late effects of my blood cancer treatment impact my life as it still stops me from participating in activities. I am learning that whilst my journey with blood cancer ended over a decade ago, my physical health continues to be an area of concern and potentially an area of my life that I have to cope with."

A new chapter of support

As Tahlia navigates long-term survivorship, Leukaemia Foundation support is still there for her. She's reconnected with Maryanne, the caring Blood Cancer Support Coordinator who has supported her family over the years.

"Maryanne and I have a special relationship because she always makes an effort to ask, to listen, to care and to help after every discussion we have. She remains in contact with me about university, my health, appointments that are coming up."

"I contact Maryanne when I have questions or am wondering about any late effects of my blood cancer treatment that I could experience. She makes it easy to talk about topics that are sometimes really difficult for others. She has a beautiful heart and is only a phone call away."

Make an impact with Dry July

Tahlia's experience speaks to the long-term impact of blood cancer, long past a diagnosis. By signing up for Dry July and raising funds, you'll ensure Tahlia and many others like her are empowered with long-term, life-changing support from an experienced Blood Cancer Support Coordinator.

"Despite the painful conditions that I live with currently, surviving my blood cancer taught me about strength, hope and resilience," says Tahlia.

"I am alive and my family is intact. The support we have been given not just throughout my treatment, but a decade after, is testimony to how involved and reliable the Leukaemia Foundation has always been.""Having the Leukaemia Foundation as part of our support system feels like our family always has someone to rely on, like our guardian angels.”

Prue's Story

“Imagine being told your child was going to pass away within two years if a transplant wasn’t successful — and then being told that you’re the donor.”

That was the reality for Prue from Townsville, mother of Chase, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a type of blood cancer, at just four years of age in December 2018.

Chase was not experiencing any common warning signs. "The first signs of illness were fevers and night sweats. These started on a Monday and they were a high 39+ for the days that followed," Prue recalls.

"By Sunday afternoon the fevers were 40+ and Panadol/Nurofen were no longer working. I decided enough was enough.... We headed to the hospital for some test results, hoping to be back by dinner time that night. Little did I know we wouldn’t return home for over six months...”

“In the ED, I was on high alert. While the phone calls the doctor was making were hard to hear, the computer within my line of sight was easy to read. ONCOLOGY. That was when I knew without a doubt our son had cancer. And so began our journey.”

Being from Townsville, Prue and her family faced a 1,300 km journey to Brisbane to be closer to the life-saving treatment for Chase. Thankfully, they were not alone.

“The housing provided by the Leukaemia Foundation while we were regularly commuting to the hospital was an absolute blessing, and we had a little community there.

For us, the Leukaemia Foundation supported the family. Providing a place to call home while we were in Brisbane and checking in on mum and dad during the journey to make sure we were coping and helping us along the way."

"I leaned on the Blood Cancer Support Coordinators at the village in some critical moments during our journey. You learn a whole new language, and I remember ducking my head into their office to ask what this acronym meant or what they know about this drug or process. They were never too busy to walk you through some of the medical jargon or just have a chat.”

Chase endured numerous rounds of intense chemotherapy and drugs, and a bone marrow transplant in the months following his diagnosis. His donor? Prue herself.

“I was a 100% match for Chase, which is very rare for a parent. Imagine being told your child would pass away within the next two years if a transplant wasn’t successful — and then being told as the mother that you're the donor. So, if I didn’t do it, he would die. And if I did do it, and it failed, he’d die.

"I’m still not sure I have processed those alternatives. At the time, I just focused on the process and trusted the science.”

Thankfully, the transplant was a success, and in March 2022, Chase finally got to ring the bell, signaling the end of his treatment.

As Chase enters a new, post-treatment phase of his blood cancer journey, Prue is hopeful for what lies ahead. “For now, he is a happy 7-year-old that loves Pokémon, Beyblades and playing with his mates. We try to live in the moment and appreciate that we are still together, free from the hospital and, in Chase’s case, Leukaemia cells.”

Brenda's Story

42-year-old Brenda Paterson has spent nearly her whole life surrounded by blood cancer.

After losing her mother and a sister to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), she too was diagnosed with myelodysplasia (MDS) in 2004 at the age of just 24.

"I was pretty devastated to hear of my diagnosis, and 'why me' constantly entered my thoughts, but I wasn't too surprised given my family history of leukaemia. It was a stressful and worrying time at that point as my son Blair was only 4 years old and not long later, I became pregnant with my daughter Krystal. I wasn't sure how being pregnant would affect my health and my unborn baby with my already compromised immune system."

15 years later, when her daughter Krystal became very ill, Brenda immediately began to fear the worst. Her suspicions were confirmed when Krystal too was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of 14.

"I was heartbroken knowing that she would potentially suffer the same fate as myself. The medical professionals used to tell me that leukaemia wasn’t hereditary, but I constantly told them it was in my situation."

Fortunately, Brenda and Krystal weren't alone in their blood cancer journey, and had regular support from Linda, a Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator.

“I spoke to Linda in great detail about my family history with leukaemia, my current situation with Krystal, and how to get her to and from appointments when I can’t drive. Linda also assisted me in claiming the carers allowance from Centrelink despite being previously told that I wouldn’t be eligible to claim it...”

“Linda was and still is such an amazing support for us both."

By signing up for Dry July and raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation, the money you raise will directly fund Blood Cancer Support Coordinators so that more Australian families like Brenda's can continue to access critical support when they need it most.

Maddison's Story

22-year-old animal lover, Maddison Walker’s dream, is to become a Zookeeper, and a blood cancer diagnosis isn’t getting in her way

In July 2019, Maddison Walker was on her way to achieving her dream job — becoming a Zookeeper. After moving to QLD six months earlier, Maddison and her mother were both settling into their new life in the Sunshine State.

“I was still looking for work in QLD as we had only been there six months. I have always been very passionate about animals. I spent a lot of days at home with my pets, taking my dogs to the park, and spending time with family and my partner at the time.”

Maddison didn’t know what was coming next would change her life forever.

“I have hypothyroidism and regularly get my blood tested to check the levels, so after one of my routine tests, I got a call from my GP asking me to come in urgently, and that’s when I received the crushing news that I had blood cancer.”

“I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) on the 1st of August 2019. After I was diagnosed, I was quite numb. My mum and boyfriend at the time were with me in the room, and my mum just burst into tears. I was just overwhelmed and scared.”

Maddison’s treatment started as suddenly as her cancer appeared. After weeks of intense chemotherapy, she was facing devastating side effects.

“Different chemo drugs affected me differently. One really damaged my liver and made me very yellow, which the doctors decided eventually to cease. Another oral chemo made me violently ill”

“The biggest effect on me would have to be that the chemo (and radiation from my transplant specifically) caused me to become infertile.”

“To a 20-year-old girl who'd always dreamt of becoming a mother, it was shocking knowing that I would never be able to carry my own child. This is still one of the most upsetting consequences to come from my treatment.”

Thankfully, Maddison was not alone in her journey.

She received assistance from the Leukaemia Foundation’s nationwide team of Blood Cancer Support Coordinators during her treatment.

“Because I couldn’t work, and my mum, who was my carer at the time, had to give up work whilst l was on treatment, they helped us out a lot with our finances. We struggled to pay for basic things like groceries, bills, petrol and registration, and they were able to step in.”

“I had a Blood Cancer Support Coordinator who was always available when I needed something. They always tried to help in any way they could, they always checked in and offered assistance, and it was just nice to feel supported whilst I had other things to focus on.”

“They would write letters if I needed something (like a recommendation or reference for an application). They were really knowledgeable with resources and helped me with medical information for my treatment.

They were always there for myself and my mum.”

After enduring a stem cell transplant in May 2020, Maddison is currently in remission and is looking forward to her future.

“I completed my Cert II in Animal Studies in December last year, and I have applied for my Cert III in exhibited animals for this year, so hopefully, I am accepted into that soon! I am very career focused right now, and I am tunnel-visioned to becoming a zookeeper, so that's what I am hoping to achieve.”

By signing up for Dry July and raising funds for the Leukaemia Foundation, your money will directly fund a Blood Cancer Support Coordinator's incredible work so that more Australians like Maddison can access critical support when they need it most.

Your 2021 Dry July fundraising went towards Leukaemia Foundation’s incredible Blood Cancer Support Coordinators

Whether it’s a friendly face to turn to for someone newly diagnosed, information about treatment and side effects or assistance with transportation or emergency accommodation — the Blood Cancer Support Team is here to provide precious relief and guidance at every turn for Aussies living with blood cancer.

Last year, the funds you raised went towards:

• Improving digital and online access to support for patients across the country.

• The introduction of a triage team so that patients and carers can immediately get in touch with the right people.

• A bigger focus on specialist areas such as exercise and supporting regional and rural communities.

• Launching an online referral form process where blood cancer patients can refer themselves directly for immediate support.

Because of these improvements made possible by your fundraising efforts, Australians living with blood cancer can access our support at any time from anywhere, in a way that works for them.

This year, the Leukaemia Foundation is again challenging Aussies to go Dry this July and raise funds that will continue to support their nationwide Blood Cancer Support Team. Your funds will ensure that they are there for the 50 Aussies who will be diagnosed with blood cancer today, and they will continue to be there for the 50 Aussies who will receive the same devastating news tomorrow.