Lymphoma knocked me for six but I got back up

Jo Harbort UGLY bartender

“I saw their loved ones sitting beside them tired, worried, and trying to show a positive face when really their hearts were breaking.”

Just over a year ago, Bellbowrie Tavern’s U.G.L.Y. Bartender of the Year entrant Jo was in hospital being treated for a rare blood cancer, nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL), presenting as lumps in her neck. During that time she met many wonderful people battling similar cancers knowing they were also struggling with being away from home, for months at a time.

“The last thing they needed to be worrying about is where they would be sleeping,” Jo said. “This is where I saw the Leukaemia Foundation stepping in to provide free accommodation near the hospital.”

Mum Jo continued to work when she could at the Bellbowrie Tavern and was touched by the support and understanding from her workplace and patrons.

Chemotherapy treatment

Jo says treatment was difficult like “being in a boxing ring, constantly being knocked down and having to get up again for the next round”. “Now, I’m in remission I’ve reached out to the Leukaemia Foundation to help me overcome some of the resulting emotional and physical side effects,” she added.

“I’m one of many people that has walked this road, I went from being a healthy happy woman with a career in my sights to a woman beaten down by another opponent, lymphocyte Hodgkin lymphoma. A cancer that was hiding inside me for many years. But I got back up. Last year I spent six months being treated for this cancer and I beat it. I was one of the lucky ones.”

Giving back

“I feel good knowing that every $80 I raise during the U.G.L.Y. Bartender of the Year competition helps the Leukaemia Foundation provide blood cancer patients and their carers a nice place to stay during their darkest hours.”

The fight to beat blood cancer is underway in Queensland with 320 U.G.L.Y. Bartenders, from Port Douglas in the north to Tweed Heads in the south, competing for the U.G.L.Y. Bartender of the Year.

The ALH Group in particular has taken this fight to their hearts, with their 122 venues, including the Bellbowrie Tavern, contributing significantly to a state-wide total already standing at $170,000. The Leukaemia Foundation’s U.G.L.Y. Bartenders in Queensland hope to raise $500,000 before the state’s competition closes on 12 September.  All other states kick off from 1 October 2016 – and it’s not too late to register to take part.  For more information, visit uglybartender.org.au.

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