Olivia has been touched by leukaemia too many times

Olivia sadly lost her mum to leukaemia 20 years ago and lost her dad to leukaemia in September 2017. In the past 20 years, Olivia herself has seen the transformation of treatment options and support available for the blood cancer community.

Olivia was just 17 when her mum, a registered nurse who had worked in a leukaemia ward, was diagnosed with blood cancer following flu-like symptoms.

“Back then, I didn’t know about the services, I was a young kid in Sydney with nowhere to stay and didn’t know where to get information. While mum was in hospital for treatment, I’d just sleep in the waiting room,” Olivia recalls.

“There was no suitable treatment available and no viable bone marrow match for mum. She wanted to have quality of life, so mum chose not to have harsh treatment. The discussion was very different for dad. Treatment options have improved so much, they found a stem cell transplant match for him in Germany and the drug therapy has just come such a long way. Unfortunately dad’s health deteriorated before the transplant could be performed,” she said.

By hosting Light the Night and encouraging the community to support the Foundation, Olivia hopes that these medical advances continue and that one day “nobody will have to hold up a gold lantern to remember a loved one”.

The Leukaemia Foundation provided Olivia’s dad with accommodation while he received treatment away from home.

“Beyond the amazing practical and financial support, it was the social support that really gave us peace of mind. My dad’s first language was French, so the Foundation was invaluable in assisting him to navigate the maze of understanding all the different services available. The Foundation helped my dad understand important information about pensions and other benefits that made his life easier. I was living far away from him so this level of care, the fact that someone was assisting with these things, really put me more at ease,” Olivia said.

“Being part of Light the Night is a very beautiful opportunity to come together and be reflective about the impact blood cancer has on the lives of the community. It’s a supporting and uplifting event. In our community, it’s some people’s opportunity to make a difference, it’s a way that they can help, particularly for the family and friends of people who have been impacted. For people who have lost somebody, it is a chance to remember. And for those people who have blood cancer, it’s a way to touch base with other members of the community,” Olivia explains.

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