Our team

Leukaemia Foundation Support Services
The Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland’s Support Services team are highly-trained health professionals with experience and qualifications in registered nursing, social work, welfare work, social science and/or counselling.

Our team members are based in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Cairns, and Townsville, and all have extensive work history in oncology and haematology – whether in an acute clinical or a community-based setting. Support Services Coordinators are available to help all patients, carers and loved ones of those diagnosed with a blood cancer, whether they are staying in one of our accommodation centres or living in their own homes in metropolitan, rural, or regional Queensland.

The Support Services team is complemented by a team of experts in varying health fields. Some members of this team have been providing their vital skills for over 25 years.  They include psychologists, motivational speakers, dietitians, exercise physiologists, change management consultants and social workers. Access to these experts ensures that our services meet the varied needs of each individual accessing our services, contributing to make our service unique and acclaimed within the health care sector. Appointments with each of these individuals can be made through one of our Support Services Coordinators. Contact the Support Services team by telephone on 07 3055 8233, or Freecall 1800 620 420.

Barbara Hartigan – Director of Support Services

Barbie Hartigan Barbie oversees the development, operation and delivery of our support programs and services to all Queensland residents. She has been with the Leukaemia Foundation since 1990 and is a registered nurse with a history in oncology, and has had special training in caring for individuals and their families who have been diagnosed with a blood cancer. Prior to joining the Leukaemia Foundation, Barbie worked at the Queensland Cancer Council. Barbie has had involvement with numerous committees including the planning committee for Queensland Health’s State Cancer Plan. Barbie is also a member of international committees such as the international committee for Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) services. She has written and delivered papers at health conferences both in Australia as well as internationally, presenting on topics related to blood cancers, the experiences of patients with blood cancers and their families, and the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland’s benchmark services. Barbie has worked collaboratively with Dr Pam McGrath from the International Program of Psycho-Social Health Research, developing and modifying the Leukaemia Foundation’s services to meet the needs identified in the research undertaken by Dr McGrath exploring the cancer impact on patients and families. Her main office is located at ESA Village and she is more than happy to visit anyone at any time. Barbie has a wealth of knowledge regarding blood cancers, treatments, side effects, bone marrow transplants (in simple terms), special benefits available to patients and their families and assistance in accessing Centrelink. The Leukaemia Foundation assists those who have emotional or financial difficulties, and Barbie is very experienced and comfortable to discuss any issues with you should they arise. Her main goal is to ensure that at this time you have the knowledge, information and emotional support you need to assist you in the change and uncertainty of dealing and living with a blood cancer diagnosis.

Maryanne Skaparis – Support Services Coordinator

Maryanne joined the Support Services team in 1995, having Maryanne Skarparispreviously volunteered for two years whilst working at the Queensland Radium Institute. Maryanne has a Diploma of Applied Science, Community Welfare and Health, and has completed the Lifeline Telephone Counsellors Course. She has also participated in workshops looking at Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness, and aims to create pathways for patients to help them embrace the here and now and get the most out of the present moment. She worked closely with Professor Pam McGrath on a major survivorship research project, and currently manages the Leukaemia Foundation’s survivorship program, helping patients who are post treatment and transplant in coming to terms with their new “norm” and getting on with living. Maryanne is more than happy to guide individuals with emotional, financial and practical needs that may arise during treatment. She has an in-depth understanding of Centrelink eligibility and application and can assist you with these matters. Maryanne has a natural ability and empathy for supporting people in this particular area of health service and is skilled in counselling. She is available to listen and support you at any time.

Ann Scholz – Support Services Coordinator

Ann Scholz (2)Before joining the Leukaemia Foundation in 2014, Ann devoted much of her work as a registered nurse to supporting families who wished to offer end of life care at home, and more recently has worked towards developing the relationships between Supportive and Palliative Care and Haematology in the hospital setting. Ann is based on the Gold Coast and offers support to people throughout the region. She co-facilitates the Fit to Thrive exercise program on the Gold Coast, and runs regular support sessions in the area for locals affected by a blood cancer.

Donna Vrancken – Support Services Coordinator

Donna VranckenDonna is based in Cairns and started working with the Leukaemia Foundation in 2014. She has a background in nursing, and previously worked in cancer care and chemotherapy at the Cairns Base Hospital. Donna supports patients and carers throughout Cairns and far north Queensland, and regularly runs support sessions in the area. She is a co-facilitator of Cairns’ Fit to Thrive exercise program.

Karen Szymanski – Support Services Coordinator

Karen S picKaren joined the Leukaemia Foundation in 2014, and works from our Townsville accommodation village. Karen has a background in social work, and regularly hosts support sessions in Townsville and Mackay. She is available to support Townsville and north Queensland patients with information, advice, or simply a friendly chat. Karen co-facilitates the Fit to Thrive exercise program in Townsville.

Kathryn Huntley – Support Services Coordinator

Kathryn-2_thumbKathryn commenced her role as a Support Services Coordinator in 2006. Kathryn has a nursing background and has cared for patients, families and friends of those with haematological and oncological conditions in hospitals here in Brisbane and also in the UK. Kathryn has completed Certificate IV courses in Community Service Coordination and Adult Teaching and Assessment as well as Lifeline’s telephone counselling course. She is available to discuss with you any concerns you have that are either related to blood cancers or their treatment and any other pressures that impact your life while you or a loved one is undergoing treatment. Kathryn is available for one to one meetings or with groups at hospital bedsides, within your home, in the wider community or in her office to discuss emotional, financial and practical needs.

Shirley Cunningham – Manager Grief Support Services

SShirley Cunninghamhirley is a registered nurse with extensive experience in haematology/oncology in the hospital, with outpatients, and in the home with both children and adults. Shirley joined the Leukaemia Foundation in 2004 as a Support Services Coordinator. Shirley has a keen interest in supporting those with grief and loss issues and in 2006 moved into the area of grief support. She is now the Grief Support Services Manager and remains passionate about supporting those who are bereaved by blood cancer. Shirly has a Masters in Health – Grief and Loss and a Masters in Counselling.

Sheila Deuchars – Support Services Coordinator

Sheila joined theSheila Deuchars Leukaemia Foundation in 2009 and is based at our Herston accommodation village. She is a registered nurse, having completed her initial studies in Edinburgh then graduating with a Diploma in Nursing – Palliative Care at university in Brisbane. She previously worked at Cancer Council Queensland in Brisbane for four years where she assisted with research projects, health professional education and the cancer helpline. Sheila is passionate about supporting patients and their families who are facing a challenging, life changing illness and has a particular interest in providing emotional support to children, adolescents, their parents and families. Sheila facilitates the amyloidosis support and education program and the Caring for the Carer group, which are both run throughout the year.

Nicole Douglas – Support Services Coordinator

Nicole joined the LeukaNicole Douglasemia Foundation in 2010, and previously worked as a registered nurse for eight years, specialising in haematology. During this time she worked at the Mater Private Hospital in Brisbane as well as in the UK in London and Edinburgh. She has found the move to Support Services Coordinator extremely rewarding and is available to discuss any queries or concerns you may have. She is happy to spend time talking about your disease, treatment, side effects or any personal or financial matters you may need help with, including Centrelink. Nicole coordinates the lymphoma support and information program in Queensland, and is based at our Clem Jones-Sunland accommodation village. Whether you need advice, someone to problem-solve with or simply an ear to listen, feel free to contact Nicole.

Michele Leis – Support Services Coordinator

Michele LeisMichele joined the Leukaemia Foundation in March 2010 having worked and gained experience in community development, counselling, child protection and oncology. Michele has a Bachelor of Social and Community Welfare/Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Humanities) and is currently completing her postgraduate studies in psychology. She is happy to meet with patients and their families in a convenient location to talk about any emotional, practical or financial concerns that you may encounter along the journey. Michele also co-facilitates the Fit to Thrive exercise program in Brisbane.

Kate Arkadieff – Support Services Coordinator

Kate ArkadieffKate joined the Leukaemia Foundation in 2011 and is based at our Clem Jones-Sunland accommodation village. She has a Bachelor in Human Services, Certificate III in Children Services, and a Masters of Social Work. Kate’s background is in social work/welfare: before joining the Foundation, she worked at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital as a Welfare Worker in the haematology sector. Not only has Kate gained an understanding of the haematology  journey that one can have emotionally and physically, she also has versed knowledge of the Patient Travel Subsidy and any Centrelink questions you may have. Kate’s door is always open and she is always happy to have a chat about any emotional, practical or financial issues you or your family members may be encountering. She has a special interest in AYA (adolescent young adult) patients, and is available to meet with you in the office, hospital or out in the community. Feel free to reach out.

Amanda Ferguson – Support Services Coordinator

Amanda joined Amanda Ferguson the Leukaemia Foundation in 2013 and is based at ESA Village in Dutton Park. She has worked exclusively in haematology/oncology as a registered nurse for over 20 years. During this time Amanda worked in a number of hospitals in Melbourne and Brisbane, and also at a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Saudi Arabia. Amanda is available to talk to patients and their families about the challenges they may encounter at any stage throughout the course of their illness, be it emotional, practical, educational or financial. She facilitates the myeloma support and educational program, and also supports patients and families at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Marian Marshall – Administration Officer, Support Services

Marian MarshallMarian joined the Leukaemia Foundation in 2008, and has spent the past 17 years working in administrative roles for the not-for-profit sector. Marian is generally your first contact with Support Services, answering calls and placing you in touch with one of our Support Services Coordinators. Marian is pivotal in the seamless flow of communication between our team and those accessing our services. Marian takes requests for appointments to see our visiting Centrelink representatives, and manages booklet order requests from health care professionals. Order forms and the Leukaemia Foundation’s resource list are available from Marian, and she is also responsible for processing approved Financial Assistance applications. Marian’s duties also involve mail outs of all Support Services materials, including our disease specific newsletters and our information and support seminars. If you wish to be on our mailing list, or have any other enquires please do not hesitate to contact Marian.

Ron Bolton-Wood – Manager Patient Accommodation Queensland

RonRon is the Accommodation Manager for Queensland and oversees the operations of all of our accommodation centres state-wide. The aim of the accommodation team is to provide warm, friendly and helpful support for residents, families, friends and visitors during their stay in our centres whilst having treatment, assist with accommodation motel bookings when units are full and the paperwork involved with the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) and various other state schemes.

Accommodation Supportive Staff

Ron is supported by: Karyn Brown (Accommodation Manager) and Pauline Hendry (Accommodation Officer) providing administrative support to the accommodation operations including the various state schemes subsidising costs associated with travel and accommodation for patients. They also assist with our overflow accommodation requests and booking motel rooms for patients and their escorts.

Patient Accommodation Coordinators

Our Patient Accommodation Coordinators look after the day to day operations of our patient accommodation centres including new arrivals, departures and can assist families with breakages in their units, repairs and maintenance issues or transport requirements and provide a caring and friendly support to residents, families and visitors to our centre. They can also assist with photocopying, facsimile, internet connections, local knowledge and have access to educational material you may require from time to time.
• Sharron Ellis – Patient Accommodation Coordinator Clem Jones-Sunland Village • Maree Chaplin – Patient Accommodation Coordinator ESA Village • Louise Keating – Patient Accommodation Coordinator Herston Village • Marie Morris – Patient Accommodation Coordinator Queensland Freemasons Village.

Ancillary Staff

We also have a team of devoted grounds/maintenance staff and cleaners who are vital to the upkeep of our accommodation centres. A dedicated group of volunteers provide many hours of support to the Foundation and residents in our centres.

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