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I saw them sitting on the bench, side-by-side, outside the Cancer Care building. Adem was staring into the distance. His father, Brent, was leaning forward, with his head resting in his hands. Without asking, I knew they had received the terrible news that we had all dreaded. Adem’s disease had not responded to the latest salvage chemotherapy. His acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was multirelapsed, persistent and refractory. There were no other treatment options available. He was 18 years of age.
The father and son ‘team’ were away from home during Adem’s lengthy treatment and spent most of their days at the hospital (in the inpatient or outpatient areas). The rest of the family came to visit each weekend so that they could spend time together. Over a period of almost 2 years Adem and Brent formed close relationships with everyone in Cancer Care including patients, families, nurses, doctors, allied healthcare professionals, kitchen staff, patient support staff, administration staff and the even the cleaners. They remained positive, open and warm throughout the difficult journey of cancer treatment. Figure 1 displays a photo of Adem’s warm smiling face. Anyone they met was an instant friend who they wanted to get to know and help in any way possible. Cancer Care was like a second home, and within the professional boundaries, we were the makeshift ‘family’ they lived their lives with each day.
During his treatment, after receiving many blood donations, Adem and his family founded ‘Team Adem’; a blood donation community and charity organisation to help support people living with haematological malignancies. ‘Team Adem’ was, and continues to be, a huge success. The community, patients, families and staff from the hospital became involved. Adem and his family’s enthusiasm to help others was contagious.
Shortly after receiving the devastating news of his persistent disease, Adem released a …
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