Inaugural Foundation donors!
Rodger and Robin celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in Japan earlier this year, where they enjoyed their honeymoon in 1969.
We thank them for their generous donation of $10,000!
We are excited to announce Foundation for a Bloody Great Cause’s inaugural donors – Rodger and Robin Robertson.
Their generous donation of $10,000 towards the Foundation and its fundraising for the world-leading blood cancer clinical trials at Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Hospital is so gratefully appreciated. It ensures we’re off to a bloody great start towards or initial fundraising target of $150,000!
This donation means that more people with blood cancers can participate in these clinical trials and have hope for a cure and a better quality of life, through innovative medicines which are not yet publicly available.
Rodger has been living with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) since 2001 - a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
He is pictured here with his wife Robin, celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary in Japan earlier this year, where they enjoyed their honeymoon in 1969! Congratulations on this amazing milestone and our sincere thanks for your support for our blood great cause.
Rodger has generously shared his personal story with us, to help raise awareness about the important role of clinical research in the successful treatment of blood cancer.
A Story of CML and research, good fortune and good treatment
By Rodger Robertson – June 2019
In the past, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) was a disease that progressed from a relatively benign phase to an almost certain death in a few years. When I was told that I had CML in early 2001, I went to my medical books to discover the likely treatments and outcome. They were written in the early 1990s, so they held little good news.
My symptoms were mainly tiredness and I was unable to play my sports of cricket and golf at just 56 years of age. I was then working as a Senior Lecturer at UNSW and as a private aviation consultant. Both of these were severely limited whilst I undertook treatments in 2001.
My GP sent me to see Yiu Lam Kwan at St George Hospital. By then I had researched on the newly arrived internet and found some hope in the form of STI571, a new drug being trialled in the USA.
A bone marrow extraction confirmed the presence of the dreaded Philadelphia chromosome and I was put on Hydroxurea, which was only partially successful. The subsequent Interferon treatment was worse than the disease and I ceased this treatment after some weeks with some severe reactions.
The efforts of Kwan (as he liked to be called) paid off and I was put on a clinical trial of the new STI571 (later called Glivec) at Royal North Shore Hospital. I never looked back, as a few months later the Government approved Glivec on the PBS. I was active in researching the benefits of the new drug and lobbying politicians about the need to approve the drug on the PBS, given its fantastic results.
The new drug enabled me to resume normal life both at work and play and whilst I retired from all paid work in 2011, I have taken on many roles in the volunteering community including several roles at my Golf Club, President of St George Family Services (which looks after women affected by violence in their homes), and several leadership and management roles in the local School, local Conservation Society and local Historical societies. This continues to this day.
My treatment also enables me to enjoy my family and especially see and support my children and grandchildren to succeed in their endeavours. My grandchildren going to Uni at UNSW, where I graduated over 50 years ago and later taught, is especially satisfying.
In 2005 Kwan moved from St George Hospital to the Haematology Clinical Research Unit Concord and I had the option of following him or staying with another specialist at St George. I choose to follow him and of course, have stayed at Concord Hospital for treatment since then.
In 2013 Kwan retired and I was referred to Judith Trotman - I have enjoyed her expertise since that time. I have always been interested in the research work going on in the medical world and of course in the treatment of CML and its post-Glivec discovery phase. Both Kwan and Judith Trotman have encouraged me in this area.
In 2010 my sons and I created a Scholarship at Charles Darwin University for disadvantaged students studying Social Sciences and I have been well rewarded with the results of seeing students achieve success with the scholarship moneys provided by the fund.
So, by 2019 it was time to look to new areas that I could support and I thought of my experience and luck over the last 19 years with the treatment of my medical problem.
It was time to repay in some way, and I again have been fortunate to find that the creation of Foundation for A Bloody Great Cause has given me the opportunity to achieve this goal.
I have always been interested in the scientific process (my degrees were in Mathematical Statistics and Econometrics) and the idea of Clinical Trials is especially vital in finding whether treatments work well with patients.
My wife Robin and I are both delighted to make the inaugural donation to the new Foundation. We wish it success and will be happy to continue to support it in any way we can.