I needed two transfusions to make my daughter’s wedding

Des Paddon says he owes his life to a clinical trial for the drug venetoclax – an experimental therapy that Leukaemia Foundation supporters helped to kick start.

Des and Jessica

Des will spend this Father’s Day reflecting on family, including how much his two daughters supported him during his blood cancer treatment.

“Jessica and Naomy don’t live nearby, but they’re always there when I need them,” said Des.

In early 2014, seven years after he was diagnosed with a blood cancer called chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), Des had run out of treatment options.

His blood cancer had mutated, chemotherapy had become ineffective and he could barely walk.

Three days before Jessica’s wedding, he was hospitalised. But the retired builder was determined to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Doctors conceded to him leaving hospital for six hours – but only after two blood transfusions.

“I gave Jessica away,” he said.

“It took a lot out of me but I was there and danced with her at the reception, before going back to hospital.”

It was Des’ haematologist who then told him about the venetoclax trial and he became one of the first Australians accepted on the US-led study.

Incredibly, after 18 months, Des was told he was “totally clear”.

“You’re not cast as cured, the CLL is just under control,” he explained.

Des has recently joined the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Buddies program to help others through their own blood cancer experience.

Our supporters make this phone-based peer support program possible. It matches and connects those diagnosed with blood cancer (or those caring for a person with blood cancer) with a trained volunteer who has had blood cancer (or cared for somebody with blood cancer).

Blood Buddies volunteers offer reassurance, support, encouragement and hope.

Venetoclax was first developed here in Australia and Leukaemia Foundation supporters helped provide funding for early work on its precursor.

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