Celebrating 30 years of Giving Hope and Saving Lives
2019 marks 30 years since a small group of families devastated by leukaemia banded together to form Bone Marrow Donor Institute. Their tireless work saw the creation of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, giving thousands of blood cancer patients a second chance at life.
Thirty years on and now we continue our mission of Giving Hope and Saving the Lives of Australians living with cancer through life-saving blood cancer research and vital support services.
Dr Leonie Walsh
A message from the President
"2019 marks a very significant milestone for Fight Cancer Foundation and the important service it provides to individuals and families as they are navigating a very stressful period of treatment and recovery in their lives. This anniversary is also very significant for me on a personal level as it marks the 30th anniversary of my bone marrow transplant and my reason for engaging with and continuing to support this important and necessary cause."
- Dr Leonie Walsh, Fight Cancer Foundation volunteer president.
A Brief History of Fight Cancer Foundation
1989 - 2019: Major Milestones
To demonstrate the incredible work that has been achieved by the Fight Cancer Foundation community over the past 30 years, we will be adding a historical milestone each month in 2019.
Bo Bear was launched as Fight Cancer Foundation's mascot during Community Awareness week in 1994. Bo Bears were sold nationally as soft toys and as lapel pins to raise funds and awareness as part of the recruitment of bone marrow donors.
Bo Bear remains a special part of the Fight Cancer Foundation family to this day. He is especially good at bringing joy to children’s oncology ward during Footy Colours Day season, as well as making special appearances at Red Ball Melbourne and various community fundraising events throughout the year.
Fight Cancer Foundation’s first patient accommodation centre opened in 2003 in Melbourne. Jointly funded by the Victorian Government, five Rotary Districts and Fight Cancer Foundation fundraising, BMDI Rotary House provides 13 apartments close to specialist medical treatment.
BMDI Rotary house is available to cancer and blood disorder patients, but it is especially suitable for bone marrow transplant patients. It offers the safety of self-contained apartments complete with all the comforts of home and specifically designed and equipped to reduce the risk of infection for those with severely compromised immune systems.
Our first accommdation centre has been a beacon of hope for thousands of families over the last 16 years. Thank you to all those who have been involved in ensuring this much needed facility has continued to provide a home away from home for families when they need it most.
Each year more than 950 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer in Australia. The ensuing treatment and recovery can result in months, if not years away from their regular classroom.
In response to this, Fight Cancer Foundation launched an education support program in 2005, which was delivered in partnership with The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.
The program was designed to enable learners to maintain their education with one-on-one tuition, individually designed lesson plans and the use of technology to connect the learner in hospital with their regular classroom.
The first year saw 30 students enrolled in the program. Since 2005, the program has expanded and is now in four major paediatric hospitals across Australia, with over 1000 young learners living with cancer enrolling each year.
In September 1996, Fight Cancer Foundation (then Bone Marrow Donor Institute) established the BMDI Cord Blood Bank. It was only the second public cord blood bank in Australia.
Working closely with the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, the BMDI Cord Blood Bank sources and provides cord blood for patients needing a stem cell transplant for treatment of blood cancers and other life-threatening illnesses.
Since 1996 13,905 cord blood units have been banked. Of the banked units, 559 have been released, providing a second chance at life for people around the world.
The BMDI Cord Blood Bank operates as a partnership between Fight Cancer Foundation, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
In May 1994, then Premier of Victoria, Jeffrey Kennett AC, officially opened the Rotary Bone Marrow Research Centre in Melbourne.
The research centre was funded by Fight Cancer Foundation (then Bone Marrow Donor Institute) in partnership with Rotary District 9800, and was gifted to The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The centre signalled a new and exciting era for Fight Cancer Foundation. Housed within the building was the Foundation's head office, a tissue typing laboratory, donor testing area and a research wing. The centre became a hub for the advancement of treatment methods for blood cancers and related blood disorders.
Still fully operational today, Fight Cancer Foundation has called The Rotary Bone Marrow Research Centre 'home' for nearly 25 years.
Faces of Fight Cancer Foundation
Fight Cancer Foundation is where it is today thanks to an incredible community of dedicated people who have given so much to the fight against cancer. More familiar faces will be added below over the next six months. Stay tuned!
Fay Duncan AM
Fight Cancer Foundation founding member Fay Duncan AM played a leading role in the planning, fundraising and delivery of a range of programmes including treatment, research, accommodation and education. Her dedication and hard work has helped countless people living with leukaemia and blood cancers to have a better chance at life.
CureTOUR was founded in 2010 in memory of Jason Mahoney, who passed away after a battle with Leukaemia. The bi-annual bike ride sees a group of community fundraisers cycle between Geelong and Adelaide. Since its inception, CureTOUR have raised more than $200,000 to support Australians living with cancer.
John was a founding member of Fight Cancer Foundation and was a driving force behind the establishment of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, which has given people in Australia and around the world a second chance at life. John was Chairman and President of Fight Cancer Foundation, which he guided passionately for 20 years.
Eric has been the Managing Director of Fight Cancer Foundation since 2006. Prior to that Eric was a volunteer board member for nine years. Eric also represents Fight Cancer Foundation on the BMDI Cord Blood Bank Management Committee.
Barb has contributed to the fight against cancer in a number of extraordinary ways over the last 20 years. Her roles have included volunteering at our Geelong recycle shop, setting up and running the Geelong Bone Marrow Donor Branch and promoting Footy Colours Day within Geelong and surrounding regions.
Thank you to all of our loyal supporters, old and new, for making a difference in the fight against cancer.
To our Patrons, Ambassadors, volunteer directors and committee members, office staff, corporate partners, volunteers and regular financial supporters, you have ensured that families supported by Fight Cancer Foundation for the past 30 years haven't had to face cancer alone.