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Camping Out Under the Stars for Child Cancer Research

The Friends of Finlay Camp Out was held last Saturday 25 November. A fantastic experience for the whole family, this fun-filled event saw 150 people camp out under the stars for a good cause.

The guest of honour, our little fair-haired hero, Finlay Higgs, was absolutely beaming with excitement to camp out with his family, friends and the community that registered to support him.

The Camp Out kicked off at 3pm with the campers setting up their tents. Footy drills and cricket playing with the Perth Demons kicked off around 4pm and children learned how to play footy from the finest. Kids had a blast with face painting, bubble-blowing, sack races, obstacle courses and a hugely popular bouncy castle which kept the children thoroughly entertained for hours.

A barbecue dinner was served and everyone kicked back to listen to musicians Sally Jane and Double Shots who performed beautiful music to listen and sing-a-long to. Campers appreciated the fun and chilled atmosphere that the musicians created and everyone relaxed into the evening spent coming together to support an important cause. The main lights out at 10pm but you could still hear the excited nattering of some as they fell asleep.

On Sunday morning, families awoke to continue the camping experience, kids played on the bounce castle and giant snakes and ladders game whilst their parents sat back with a coffee before starting to pack up their tents to head home. Everyone was chirpy despite an early start to the day and enjoyed the chance the turn off the technology and camp together as a family.

It was a fantastic Camp Out and Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) want to thank the Higgs Family, everyone who camped out and/or bought sleeping bags, all of the amazing volunteers and event organisers who worked so hard to make the Camp Out a success.

We especially would like to thank the amazing sponsors: Lotterywest, Absolute Edge Media, West Coast Eagles, Perth Demons Football Club, Edith Cowan University and EverSharp Financial Services for their wonderful support of the Camp Out.

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Freo Dockers Foundation Ball: Farewell to Subi

Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) ambassadors, Georgia Lowry and Zoe Manuel, were a part of a glamorous Fremantle Dockers Foundation Ball on Saturday night, 25 November at the Subiaco Oval.

The Ball was themed ‘Farewell to Subi’ and it was a poignant night as Fremantle players joined club sponsors, members and fans to farewell Subiaco Oval as AFL games move to Optus Stadium.

A tour of the oval kicked off the night, followed by an evening of entertainment on the centre square of the oval’s hallowed turf. Guests were led into the stands and change rooms, and had the opportunity to have a photo at their favourite player’s locker.

Fireworks lit up the night sky before guests were served a three-course meal while Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy Nat Fyfe and Matthew Pavlich shared their memories of the venue.

CLCRF ambassador, Zoe Manuel, said, “the best part about the night was definitely meeting a few of the players and also listening to everything they have done in the past at the oval.”

As one of the Associate Friends of the Fremantle Dockers Foundation, the CLCRF was proud to be represented by two of our lovely ambassadors. A big thanks to Beyond Bank who generously donated the tickets so that our two lovely ambassadors could attend.

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Cancer Battle Humbles a President

In February 2002, former US President Bill Clinton paid a visit to 13-year-old at the time, Thomas Bloemendaal, who was undergoing treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children for lymphoblastic leukaemia.

The former President was deeply moved by the courage of Thomas and his family in their struggle against cancer. Clinton held his hand and said to Thomas, “I like the look in your eye … you will get there.” The former president said that visiting the young man was an incredibly humbling experience.

“Children in that position have a certain way about them and it is extremely humbling,” Bill Clinton said.

What a poignant moment to see a former president humbled by a young boy fighting for his life.

Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. are continually humbled by the strength and bravery of children and their families who fight cancer. It is because of their courage that we fight so hard to raise money for children’s cancer research.

You too can make a difference and raise money for the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation Inc. by starting a fundraising page now.

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Cookies Made with Love

Brazilian dentist, Juliana Nogueira, chose to help the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) for her Diploma in Leadership and Management course project at TAFE. She decided to hold a cookie fundraiser to raise money for the Foundation. She tells us about the fundraiser below in her own words:

“The initial idea for the Cookie Fundraiser came when I had to choose one Project for my Diploma in Leadership and Management course at TAFE. Since the beginning of the year I wanted to do a volunteer project, so it was the perfect chance for me to put into practice all of my ideas!

I am a Brazilian Dentist and my passion for children meant that I have worked in the past with children with heart disease, also in a volunteer project, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Therefore, I chose Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) due to its honest and brilliant work regarding Children’s Cancer Research. When I went in person to CLCRF’s office and met Wendy, I felt that I was doing the right thing. Her kindness made me feel so comfortable and well received that gave me more strength to pursue my objective of organizing the Fundraiser.

The Cookie Fundraiser was such a success! One of my team members and I prepared the venue at North Metropolitan TAFE in the event day and before we even finished organizing everything, people were lining up to buy the cookies. In the end, four hours later, we did not ‘just’ sell all the 240 cookies, but also raised more than we expected! The feeling of seeing people’s smiles while stopping to help was indescribable. It was a very special day!! I felt so pleased and happy to see so many people donating their time and money in order to help the Foundation, that this feeling will always stay in my heart …

I would like to thank everyone that helped buy cookies or donated, you definitely did your part!!! I also would like to thank all people involved with the organisation and preparation for the event, including my lecturer, Jo Marshall, and my amazing team members Emma Jefferies and Lydia Stoll! Your contribution was essential to make this event happen so beautifully! Thank you also to Cynthia, Shehan, Patricia and Celso, special people that gave me support and ideas for the event! A special thank you to Woolworths for the sponsorship for the cookies! You provided the best cookies that our event could have had! Last but not least, thank you CLCRF for the trust and for the support!

In life, we have to make things happen. There are so many people, including children needing our help, that we cannot close our eyes to reality. If you feel that you can help someone, no matter how, do it and don’t wait for tomorrow. Time is precious, and each good act is a piece that completes the endless puzzle called love.”

Juliana Nogueira

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Boot Scootin’ for Cancer Research

The Nambung Country Music Muster on 26-29 October 2017 was a celebration of country music bringing together 1,000 country music fans. The event raised money for several charities including an incredible $3,000 for the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF).

The four-day event saw fans enjoy country music concerts around the historic Nambung Shearing Shed, 200 kilometres north of Perth. Stars of the show included Tom Maxwell, Laura Downing, Evan Platschinda, Terry Bennetts and Ginger Cox of the Band of Mates.

Boot scooting and old-time dancing were hugely popular along with the local CWA cooking up a storm.

The Bush Poet’s Breakfast saw performances by Bill Gordon, Stinger and other talented poets to the aromas of freshly cooked bacon and eggs. The Sunday finale brought all the stars together to sing Waltzing Matilda, We Are Proud, and a stirring rendition of Slim Dusty’s Lights on the Hill.

Next year’s muster promises to be just as successful on 25-28 October 2018.

The CLCRF thank the Nambung Country Music Muster for generously donating $3,000. Your kind donation will go towards vital children’s cancer research.

Photo credit: thanks to Steve Kruger www.4wdaus.com

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Make a Difference by Saving!

Make a real difference with your savings account and open a Community Reward Account with Beyond Bank! The more you save, the more Beyond Bank will donate to Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) at no cost to you!

It’s a high interest savings account and a unique way for supporters of CLCRF to give towards child cancer research. Beyond Bank will give the Foundation a Community Reward Payment based on the combined average annual balances of all supporters’ savings.

Each year, Beyond Bank generously donates over $350,000 back to not-for-profit community organisations such as CLCRF. It’s great to see a bank give so much to the community.

Show your support and head over now to Beyond Bank to start a Community Reward Account!

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Friends of Finlay Camp Out Radio Interview at 98Five FM

On Monday 6 November, Katey Higgs joined Mike Crichton on Mornings of 98five FM to talk about the Friends of Finlay Camp Out on Saturday 25 November at Lathlain Park.

Katey’s son, 4-year-old Finlay Higgs, has been battling Hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer. She talked about why she decided to hold a Friends of Finlay Camp Out to support children’s cancer research through the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.).

Listen to the full interview below.

Podcast: Katey Higgs with Mike on 98five’s ‘Mornings With Mike’

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Professor Ursula Kees’ Farewell Letter

Dear Foundation Supporter,

I have dedicated 34 years of my life to studying infant cancer at the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Laboratory.

With a grateful heart, I say thank you to the Foundation and its supporters for bringing me from Switzerland to Perth and giving me the chance to lead the Laboratory. It is with some sadness, that I announce that I have come to the end of my time as one of the founding scientists of the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) Laboratory.

During these 34 years, I have been struck by one word to describe the effects of infant cancer: AGGRESSIVE. Cancer in children is not the same as adult cancer. An adult cancer patient will experience five to 30 years of life lost due to cancer and its treatment. A child who is under 12 months of age is likely to lose 67 years of life through cancer and its treatments.

Sadly, one in 500 Australian children will develop cancer before age 15. Childhood cancer is still the leading cause of death from disease for Australian children.

Our Laboratory team has contributed to a world-wide effort to find better therapies for our young cancer patients – with great outcomes. In the mid-eighties, many patients did not survive. Today, successful therapies are available for the majority of our young cancer patients.

Here is a big BUT. Some of our patients initially respond to the therapy they are given, but soon the disease is back. This is devastating for the patient, the parents and siblings, for the doctors and nurses and for the researchers. My desire to help children survive through this terrible disease has driven me and my team these 34 years. We search for answers to fight childhood cancer in the Laboratory to bring better therapies to the patient.

For each patient, a treatment plan is worked out. The length of therapy may be a few months or up to three years. A patient may receive one form of treatment or a combination, depending on what researchers have found to be the most effective in destroying the patient’s particular type of cancer cells.

The most common types of treatment are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. I started in the CLCRF Laboratory in 1984, at a time when a new treatment was talked about, called ‘bone marrow transplantation’. Dr Michael Willoughby, the specialist who diagnosed and treated childhood cancer patients at the children’s hospital, was a pioneer of this treatment. In what turned out to be a great collaboration, our Laboratory team was able to contribute to the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at Princess Margaret Hospital. Many lives have been saved through this Program.

Some patients receive chemotherapy over three years – a very long time. For the first few weeks they are in hospital and afterwards they have to come to the children’s hospital for treatment – many times over three years.

They are given up to 12 different drugs that destroy the cancer cells. However, these very potent drugs can also cause damage to the patient’s healthy cells. These effects are short-term and long-term, because they cause harm to the growing bodies of the young patients.

Long-term effects of the treatment can be heart damage, second cancers, lung damage, infertility, cognitive issues, hearing losses and much more. Two-thirds of those who survive must face at least one chronic health condition for the rest of their lives. So, our key goal in the CLCRF Laboratory is to find therapies that have none of these long-term effects.

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood. The leukaemia cells multiply uncontrollably, such that they crowd out the healthy blood cells. Leukaemia is the most common cancer in children. In a world-wide research effort, we helped to develop treatment protocols for leukaemia patients. They are very successful – today more than 85% of patients survive.

Sadly, this is not the case for babies who are diagnosed with leukaemia. Less than 40% survive. Our Laboratory team has focused on these very young patients, to find out why they do not respond to the drugs as well as older children do. What is the difference?

We found that the ‘mistakes’ or mutations that turn a healthy blood cell into a baby’s leukaemia cells are different from those in older children.

We managed to grow leukaemia cells from babies in the Laboratory, which was only possible because Jette Ford from our team has the skills to keep the leukaemia cells alive, such that they multiply – and we have a cell line.

Without these unique cell lines, our research to find better therapies could not have happened. The cell lines are absolutely critical to make a change for our youngest leukaemia patients. We screened many drugs that have come to market, and we found some that can destroy the leukaemia cells from the babies. Not only that, we also found out that these drugs work very well in combination. Best of all, these new drug combinations have fewer side effects.

It’s a matter of life and death.

By giving to the CLCRF you can help to improve the survival rate of children with cancer and better their response to treatment.

I am proud to say that our CLCRF Laboratory has attracted worldwide attention with our research into infant cancer. In Perth, our Laboratory boasts cell lines for testing that have been used across the world so that we can develop the best drug combinations to treat childhood cancer.

The CLCRF Laboratory is not government funded. Only one per cent of government funding is given to children’s cancer research. That is why your help is vital in the search for better treatment for children with cancer.

We rely on you to continue the dream of improving the lives of children with cancer. You can do this by investing in the legacy of research that we started.

 There are still many drug combinations that our laboratory aims to test to better the lives of children with cancer. This testing is vital so that we can see more children survive, but we cannot do this without your help. Your money goes towards increasing their chances of survival and enhancing their lives.

In order for the Laboratory to continue with this life-changing research, we need your help. So please dig deep and give generously to the CLCRF.

To demonstrate my belief in this key research that the CLCRF Laboratory is leading, I will continue to be a board member of the CLCRF.

You’ve been so generous in the past, we are very thankful. The wonderful team of researchers that I have lead for 34 years is working around the clock to find the answers to make children’s lives better. But time is running out, so make a donation now to the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) to help these little ones who suffer so greatly.

Yours sincerely,

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 Professor Ursula Kees

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The Great Chop

Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) ambassador, Kerrin Hampson, will be doing ‘The Great Chop’ – she’s shaving off her beautiful long hair to support Finlay Higgs, who has Hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. She aims to raise $1,500 for the cause!

As to why she’s cutting off her hair, Kerrin went through a very painful time when her own son, Marley, was diagnosed with cancer. In Kerrin’s own words:

“No family walks exactly the same path during treatment, but walking a mile in the Higgs’ family’s shoes would give anyone blisters. I know the money will go exactly where it needs to go to help find a cure.”

So, what is Kerrin and Marley’s story? Kerrin explains why supporting children’s cancer research is so close to her heart.

“Where do I start? I shaved my head for the first time in 2013. That was the year that my own son, Marley, finished treatment. After he finished, we have remained involved in the raising of awareness and funding of research into children’s cancers, with the hope that one day a cure will be found.

“I have grown my hair since then with the idea in mind that I would shave next year when Marley has the 5 year, all clear. I am planning a celebration and thought it would be a great addition to the day. I woke up this morning (31 October) and was just over the washing, drying, making it tidy for work grind. I decided now is the time. Why put off tomorrow what I can do in a couple of weekends? I will cut it off. I will raise money beforehand and I will donate the funds to the Friends of Finlay Camp Out 2017.”

You can support ‘The Great Chop’ now at https://friendsoffinlay.everydayhero.com/au/the-great-chop.

If you want to support childhood cancer research and attend Friends of Finlay Camp Out on Saturday 25 November, just register now!

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Child Health and the Wealth of Nations

Staff of the Children’s Leukaemia & Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) were privileged to attend the Telethon Kids Institute Annual Community Lecture on Wednesday evening, 1 November at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth.

Each year, Telethon Kids Institute brings a world-renowned international expert to deliver a free presentation to the community.

This year, internationally renowned Harvard health economist and demographer from the US, Professor David Bloom, spoke at the lecture about ‘Child Health and the Wealth of Nations’.

He gave an insightful and thought-provoking talk about how any country that wants to grow its economy needs to pay close attention to the health of its smallest citizens: children.

It was a very informative night and provided a great deal of food for thought about how vital it is to protect the health of children. David Bloom’s lecture reinforced the importance of CLCRF’s mission to raise money for children’s cancer research.

If you want to give to children’s cancer research, just head over to our Donate page.