My name is Sam; it’s likely we’ve crossed paths through the emails I write or one of the blog posts I did for Swanwick.
Usually, I’d share facts about blue light and information about Swannies but today, I want to share a personal story with you.
As you may have seen, we’re supporting Finn Howland’s World’s Greatest Shave campaign. The World’s Greatest Shave raises money for the Leukaemia Foundation; a charity very close to my heart.
A few years before I started working for Swanwick, the Leukaemia Foundation was a big part of my family’s life.
Just as I was about to finish Grade 11, I got a phone call. A bad one.
My dad told me to take a seat and stay calm,
“Sam. Your mum has been diagnosed with Leukaemia.”
I could never have imagined being told this. My mum was always so happy and healthy. No-one in my family had ever been diagnosed with Leukaemia.
I was told that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; a rare and aggressive form of cancer more commonly found in children. Adults typically aren’t the victims. Subsequently, there’s very little research on adults and no cure.
The cancer was spreading quickly and we weren’t sure how my mum was going to react to chemotherapy. Unsure of how long we had left with her, my parents transferred to a hospital in Brisbane, Australia (I had moved away from home to go to high school) so we were close to each other.
My mum began chemotherapy and that’s when things became real; everything started to sink in when her much-loved hair began to fall out.
As sad as this was, the Leukaemia Foundation was there to help - she may have lost her hair but they gave her the next best thing. The charity provided her with vouchers that allowed her to get some great quality wigs.
This might sound like something small but when you go through an experience like this, it’s these smaller things that matter. She loved her hair and it gave her a lot of confidence so receiving wigs, helped her to rebuild her self-confidence and prepare for the way her life was changing.
Surprisingly my mum responded well to the chemotherapy and the number of cancer cells reduced rapidly. She responded so well that the hospital allowed her and my dad to move into an apartment instead of having to live at the hospital.
Again, the Leukaemia Foundation was amazing. My parents lived in a rural town in the Australian Outback and Brisbane was over 800km from ‘home’.
The Leukaemia Foundation provided my parents with an apartment in a specially designed village, completely rent and expense free. The support they gave my parents was truly amazing and having a place they could call home relieved a lot of stress so we could just focus on our time together.
Things were really great for a few months and my mum received the news that she was in remission. It was truly amazing considering the circumstances, none of us were expecting to hear those words.
The hospital gave my mum the okay to move back to her rural home and she just needed to go to do routine checkups at a nearby hospital.
It was about mid-2012 (half-way through my final year of school) that I got another phone call. Worse than the first.
The cancer had returned more aggressively than ever and after a lot of deliberation, my mum decided to stop chemotherapy.
She accepted her chance of survival was extremely unlikely and just wanted to spend her last months in the comfort of her home, surrounded by the people she loved.
She thoroughly enjoyed those last precious months but on the 20th of September 2012 at 36 years old, she fell in battle.
It was a hard time, but I can only be thankful for everyone involved who helped to extend the time we had together. If it wasn’t for the Leukemia Foundation, it’s unlikely she would have been able to get the treatment she needed and live as long as she did.
It’s heroes like Finn that truly make a difference in the lives of people like my mum.
Finn’s been growing his hair for more than three years for the World’s Greatest Shave to raise money and donate it to create wigs for people who’ve lost their hair from chemotherapy.
Finn, too, has been fortunate to have wonderful organizations surrounding him and helping him through his own battle.
At just 18 months old he was diagnosed with a Sacrococcygeal Teratoma; a cancerous tumor located inside his tail bone. His parents were told he only had weeks to live and the cancer had spread to his organs and vertebrae.
Survival was slim but the doctors decided to try three types of chemotherapy to remove the cancer and shrink the tumor.
Amazingly, after three months of chemotherapy, his organs were cleared of cancer. During the next three months, the tumor shrunk rapidly and it was removed during an eight-hour surgery.
Fortunately, Finn went into remission and has been cancer-free ever since.
He’s extremely thankful for his friends, family and medical team and wants to give back through fundraising.
He’d like other people, particularly children, to feel as loved and supported as he did. He’s fundraising money for cancer research charity Leukemia Foundation to help patients and support the amazing medical teams that work around the clock.
Finn has always been a huge supporter of Swanwick (he’s an amazing child model!) and we’d like to support him like he’s supported us.
The charity he’s fundraising for is very close to the hearts of the Swanwick team and our wider community.
I wanted to write this blog post to personally invite you to donate to Finn’s campaign.
I’m just one of the thousands of people helped every year by the Leukaemia Foundation.
Swanwick will also be donating to support Finn’s campaign.
(The Leukaemia Foundation is an Australian charity and therefore all donations made will be in AUD)