How a motorcycle accident led to a diagnosis of blood cancer

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It was not until they went to their family doctor in Rockhampton that blood tests were ordered to confirm that Mr Hodda had acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer.

“You just have no idea how quickly your life can change,” said his wife.

Mr. Hodda was taken to Brisbane for treatment and allowed to go home after 56 nights in the intensive care unit at Wesley Hospital, where he received more than 70 blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant.

Ms. Hodda said her husband’s care in Brisbane is excellent, but as regional patients, they are forced to jump through hoops that patients in metropolitan areas are unlikely to need.

“It’s different for every person and family, but it’s also the same – not knowing what to do next, not knowing where to get the right information,” she said.

The Hoddas, who have two young children, have been supported in Brisbane by the Leukemia Foundation, which provides shelter and assistance for those who need to travel for treatment.

The federal government announced last week that it would implement a National Strategic Action Plan on Blood Cancer, led by the Foundation, to improve the national response to the range of blood cancers that affect Australians.

In Australia, more than 5600 people die of blood cancer each year, while more than 110,000 people live with the disease.

Tim Murphy of the Leukemia Foundation said developing the strategic plan means everyone from patients to lawyers to the government could be on the same page.

“We had found inconsistencies in the practice of clinicians. You could be treated in Mount Isa and have a very different experience than someone treated in Melbourne – and they have the same disease, “Murphy said.

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“This is insane, so we pushed for national standards, and once we have those standards, we make sure all clinicians know about it.”

He said blood cancer cannot be screened the same way as breast cancer, so getting treatment early is often key to fighting it.

“If we just change the efficiency of the current practice, we estimate that 2,000 lives could be saved,” he said.

“That’s just because the drugs and best practices currently listed are being used nationwide.”

After Mr. Hodda’s experience in the fight against blood cancer, his wife was involved in the development of the action plan as a patient advocate. She hoped this would help ensure that all Australians receive the same quality of care.

“Patients need access to the same care and information because they are scared enough without one doctor telling you this and another doctor telling you,” she said.

“You’re looking for something that gives you a chance for hope, and this plan of action gives you a chance for hope.”

Stuart Layt reports on health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland Political Reporter for AAP.

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