Leukaemia Foundation

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Our mission: A Future Free from Blood Cancer

Every year, more than 17,000 Australians will be newly diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. This means 47 people every day or one person every 31 minutes. 

It can happen to anyone – of any age – at any time.

When combined, blood cancers are now the second most diagnosed cancers in Australia, and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.

When hearing the words ‘you have blood cancer’, it can be nearly impossible to know where to turn.

This is where – with your help – a Leukaemia Foundation Blood Cancer Support Coordinator steps in.

These special support workers are there to ensure all Australians diagnosed with blood cancer are supported through every scary, uncertain moment that follows a diagnosis.

Whether it’s a friendly face or voice to turn to for someone newly diagnosed, or information about treatment and side effects, Blood Cancer Support Coordinators are there every step of the way providing precious relief, guidance and a helping hand at every turn.

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

Go dry and help cure and conquer every blood cancer.

Latest Updates

MAFS star, Mel Walsh, talks about her grand-daughter Ava's Leukaemia diagnosis

Ava is my first grandchild and I was lucky enough to be there when she was born. Chloe had her husband and myself in the delivery suite and it is one of the most special moments I will treasure forever, being there while this little ray of sunshine came into the world. I have always felt a very close connection with her since then.

Ava has always been incredibly special, and brought so much joy and love to all of our lives. She and I used to spend hours dancing around the lounge room together when she was little, and she always loved wearing my high heels whenever she came over for a visit or sleepover. I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with her from the time she was born and took her to dancing classes over the years. After that we would go and get a babycino and banana bread and it was such a special time together. We loved playing the music loud while we drove along and sang and danced to her favourite songs.

Ava loves dancing, fairies, and unicorns, and for a while she absolutely loved scary movies with lots of blood. She has a huge collection of Lol Dolls which she is very particular about, and has all the accessories in separate containers as she likes to be organised. Ava loves drawing and is now being home schooled mostly and learning to write and recognise letters and sounds. She goes to school when she is up to it.

She has a charisma about her and leaves a warm glow with anyone she comes in contact with. She loved dressing up as a flower girl for the Married at First Sight wedding, loves wearing dresses, but not jeans. She is a real little lady.

Ava is a wonderful big sister to Summer, who is two and a half. Summer absolutely adores her, and struggled when Ava had to spend so much time in the hospital. Their bond is heart-warming, and it is very important to Ava that she spends time with her little sister. She also annoys her at times, but I think Ava handles it really well.

For a few months before Ava was diagnosed, she seemed to be losing her spark a bit. It’s one of those things you only realise when you look back. At the time, we noticed it but thought she might just be tired from creche and didn’t really worry too much. She was still full of life but got tired very easily and seemed to be becoming a bit more fragile and seemed paler than she used to. 

In the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, Ava was becoming more and more unwell. She tired very easily and actually looked a little jaundice. Chloe and her husband took her to the doctor regularly and then twice to Frankston Hospital as they were beside themselves with worry. Each time the doctors said there was nothing to worry about and sent them home. 

Following their parental instincts, Chloe and Zane took Ava the next day to the Royal Children’s Hospital. They just knew something was wrong but never expected the diagnosis they received. 

Ava was diagnosed with ALL that night, and immediately started chemotherapy which was put into her spine when they did a spinal tap. She was given blood transfusions and then chemotherapy in the drip, as well as steroids. She spent several weeks at the Royal Children’s Hospital as she had a bad reaction to the steroids which the doctors said can happen. She was allowed to go home from hospital and continue to come up to the RCH twice a week for chemotherapy and a check-up. 

This has been going on for nine months and now Ava has gone into the maintenance period of her chemotherapy, which means only going to the hospital for chemo once a month, taking chemo tablets and steroids at home. Even though she suffers the side effects of the chemo (hair loss, nausea, rashes sometimes) she still smiles and plays and is our bright, happy girl much of the time.

Last year I organsied the Light the Night in Hastings to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. My daughter and her husband didn’t want a Go fund Me page or anything like that as they are very independent, and I just wanted to do something to help. 

After being at the RCH and seeing all the children and families going through this disease, I realised there is so much that needs to be done. You don’t know what it is like until you have a loved one going through it, and there are so many families that are facing tough times like ours. 

You feel completely helpless when something like leukaemia strikes your grandchild and being involved with the foundation has become my way of helping to make sense of it (if that’s possible). 

When I saw Dry July advertised, I thought that could be another way to help raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. It’s crazy because I have actually thought its not going to be easy as I love my booze, but when I look at what Ava is going through, that seems like a stupid thing to say. Ava is handling this with such strength and style. She is my absolute hero and the least I can do is give up drinks for a month to help her and all the other people going through this horrible disease.

Super survivor Paul one of the first Aussies to conquer blood cancer and coronavirus

After defying the odds with blood cancer Paul Cronin has also faced the life-threatening coronavirus at the centre of the global pandemic.

The 62-year-old was diagnosed with a blood cancer called myeloma in February 2015, after five months of tests and uncertainty.

“I have the aggressive myeloma gene with an average life expectancy of two years,” explained Paul.

“I started chemotherapy straight away and had a stem cell transplant six months later.

“I nearly died twice in that time with fevers near 40 degrees.”

Paul has recovered from myeloma and maintains his health with a life-saving combination of drugs and therapies.

“I’ve made it to a little over five years now and my haematologist said if I got to 10, it'd be a miracle,” said Paul.

Paul has not let his disease hold him back and has travelled extensively since achieving remission.

He was on his way back from a trip to Antarctica, travelling through South America, when he first heard of the global pandemic.

“We had basically been off the grid since we left for the trip at the end of February,” explains Paul.

“We arrived back to Ushuaia, South America a few weeks later from Antarctica and people were saying "Don't you know there’s a pandemic,'? Everything's started to shut down and the borders are closing".

“A few days later it became clear I needed to get home. If I had been stuck there with the local healthcare I probably wouldn’t have lived.”

A cancelled flight, five stopovers, four days and $3,500 later Paul finally made it home to Adelaide.

“There was a lot of people coughing and spluttering at the airport and on the planes,” said Paul. “We had masks and everything, but not the professional ones.

“A couple of days later I woke up lethargic and had trouble breathing. I couldn’t get any air into my lungs no matter what I did,” said Paul.

“I went to the hospital and they took the swab. Twenty-four hours later I was told I had tested positive for COVID-19.”

Paul’s wife, Kathryn, and 23-year old son, Daniel, had already moved out with friends for 2 weeks. Paul had already put himself into the state's compulsory 14 day quarantine at home just in case.

Kathryn rang Paul's heamotoligst who arranged an ambulance 15 minutes later, which took him to hospital and he was immediately put into isolation. “From what I was told, I was the first person in South Australia with both coronavirus and myeloma.”

Paul was kept in hospital for 19 days, spending two days in intensive care.

“I was very sick, lost around 13 kilograms and I was pretty close to death's door,” Paul added

“The time in total isolation was tough. Only the doctors and nurses in gowns and masks could come in my room.

“Thank god I had a phone because I wasn’t able to see anyone else during that time.”

Paul had two negative coronavirus tests before being discharged from hospital in mid-April and is now focused on slowly building his strength.

“During the first two weeks at home, I was still crook, very weak and couldn't do much. But now I'm starting to walk again,” said Paul.

 "I am now back on my myeloma maintenance protocol with regular blood tests."

“The coronavirus has affected my lungs, which we knew was one of the side effects of coronavirus. My breathing has got worse but I’m managing,” said Paul.

“It’s also affected my liver so I will be having regular ultrasounds to check on that and I’m keeping an eye on my weight as well.”

Dry July funds help Leukaemia Foundation support people like Joe and Chanelle

Blood cancer survivor, Joe and his partner, Chanelle benefitted from on-site personal care and support while staying at Leukaemia Foundation Patient Accommodation.

The couple have lived out at the Kalgoorlie Goldfields in remote Western Australia for the last 12 years. Joe working as a boilermaker and Chanelle as a hairdresser, life was bliss for the nature-loving couple.

“We are outdoors people and love going camping, fishing, hiking and bike-riding,” said Chanelle. “Every chance we get we drive the four hours to Esperance to camp at the beautiful beaches, we absolutely love it there and we love the ocean. 

A blood cancer diagnosis couldn’t have been further from their minds when Joe started to notice shortness of breath last year. 

When Joe also started having lung and collar bone pain, Chanelle encouraged him to go back and demand an x-ray. 

“When the x-ray and blood tests came back clear I was progressed to a CT scan and that confirmed I had lymphoma,” remembers Joe.

Joe would need lifesaving chemotherapy treatment in Perth, a good eight hours from their hometown.

Accommodation was the couple’s biggest concern with Joe facing several months of treatment. They were relieved when they received a call from Leukaemia Foundation staff offering a home-away-from-home at the Stirling Cross Apartments in Perth.

“We cried so much when Lara called us and said; ‘come on down we have a place for you’ - I'll never forget that phone call.”

“Emotional support was a huge one for us as well,” explains Chanelle. “The girls always checked in on us, made sure we were ok and had everything we needed.

“There were so many times we went down to the office and had a good cry. That alone was such wonderful support…to have someone to listen.”

“Overall the support from all the staff there was everything we needed, even to this day we hear from them to ask how we are doing.”

Leukaemia Foundation receives an additional grant from the Dry July Foundation

We're pleased to announce that Leukaemia Foundation has received an additional grant from the Dry July Foundation October grant round.

This grant will enable the purchase of 6 vehicles for the National Patient Transport Program, a transport service that has helped thousands get to and from medical appointments, driving more than one million kilometres each year to ensure people get the medicines they need to beat their blood cancer .

Dry July Foundation helps fund Leukaemia Foundation’s National Transport to Treatment Program

Funds raised from Dry July 2019 will directly support the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Transport to Treatment Program.

Every day another 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer. That is one Australian every 41 minutes and 60,000 Australians living with a blood cancer right now. 

The transport service has been designed to relieve some of the pressures faced by people with blood cancer and their families; particularly those with no access to transport, limited finances or have relocated for cancer treatments from rural and remote locations.

The service ensures that patients are not compromising their weakened immune systems by travelling by public transport or general taxi services and are arriving at appointments safely and on time, it also allows carers to travel when their loved ones are stuck at the hospital and can provide transport to children attending hospital schools when they have relocated to major city to access potentially life-saving treatments.

Their essential transport service can provide transport for children attending hospital schools when they have relocated to major city. It means carers can travel when their loved ones are stuck at the hospital getting access to the medicines they need to beat blood cancer.

A team of dedicated, trained volunteers drives people and families to and from their medical, outpatient and other specialist appointments; delivering people at their appointments safely and on-time, with a friendly face on the way.

Since 2015, the Leukaemia Foundation has averaged around 1.6 million kilometres in travel across Australia, equalling more than 50,000 trips getting patients and their carers to and from treatment with this service.

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