The multi-million dollar Bridgestone Leukaemia Foundation Patient Accommodation Village is a quiet and unassuming place and driving past its Lightsview address you would hardly know it was there.
The Fay Fuller Foundation contributed $60,000 to this special place where people and their families from regional and remote areas can stay when they’re facing the realities of and treatments following a blood cancer diagnosis. The village complex has 15 two and three bedroom apartments and a series of resident facilities and services. The Fay Fuller Foundation’s name appears on the door of the games room, which is a common area where residents can relax. It has also hosted everything from ping pong championships, thank you functions and donor groups to memorial services.
The designers of this complex really thought of everything from the landscaped garden with low allergy plants to the choice of furniture that is easy to clean so as not to cause an infection control issue.
The former SA Village Manager and now Leukaemia Foundation Head of Research Peter Diamond talks proudly of the facility, which opened in 2013 and has now clocked up more than 20,000 nights of accommodation. He says blood cancer is a rapid onset disease and people usually need to start treatment within 24-48 hours.
In the case of someone living in country South Australia this can literally mean having to drop everything at the family home or farm and head straight to Adelaide. From there they may be looking at months of treatment and potentially little or no income.
Peter says that in such a stressful and uncertain time, the village can take one worry away from people and their families … ’Where do I stay?’ – and also – ‘How will I pay for it’?
When we asked Peter whether he could share any inspiring stories from his work, he had to shuffle through them in his mind as there were so many. He landed on the story of baby Bronx from Mount Gambier who first came to the village with his family as a 4-month-old. Bronx had been diagnosed with biphenotypic Leukaemia, which is a rare combination of two types of Leukaemia. Bronx and his family were supported by the Leukaemia Foundation in Adelaide and accommodation was also arranged for him and his dad when he needed a stem cell transplant, which could only be offered in Sydney. Despite devastating odds of less than 20 per cent survival, the transplant was successful, and Bronx is now is remission and has celebrated his third birthday.
Peter says an extra special element of this story is the fact that Bronx’s family were so grateful for the support they received that they now want to support other families going through the same thing. They now regularly participate in fundraisers to help support other families who come to the village.
Many other South Australian families also host fundraisers in their home towns in appreciation of the Leukaemia Foundation’s support.
We hope that, as a foundation we’ve played a small part in this greater story of giving and helping others.