Funds for leukaemia research ensure Luke's legacy endures

Funds for research: Gerringong Bakery and Cafe owners Len and Annette Fownes handed over a cheque for $10,000 to Nina Field from the Leukaemia Foundation this week. Picture: Adam McLean
Funds for research: Gerringong Bakery and Cafe owners Len and Annette Fownes handed over a cheque for $10,000 to Nina Field from the Leukaemia Foundation this week. Picture: Adam McLean

Small change can make a big difference.

In fact a donation tin which is constantly refilled with customers’ spare coins at Gerringong Bakery and Cafe has raised $10,000 in the past few years.

This week owners Len and Annette Fownes handed over those funds to the Leukaemia Foundation as a legacy for their son Luke, who died in October 2013.

The Fownes have requested that the funds go towards vital research into the cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow – and have kept the tin out for ongoing donations.

‘’Our son Luke was a fit and healthy young man of 26 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, which was quite aggressive,’’ Mr Fownes said.

‘’He had three rounds of chemotherapy in Wollongong Hospital but didn’t go into remission so we started looking at the Australian Donor Register for a potential bone marrow match.

‘’He underwent a bone marrow transplant at the Royal North Shore Hospital in June 2013 and initially responded incredibly but after 100 days, the leukaemia had returned.’’

Sadly Luke then developed an infection, which his compromised immune system could not fight off, and he died on October 9.

Luke Fownes.

Luke Fownes.

‘’Luke was a great sportsman – a valued member of the Gerringong Lions – and was well regarded by everyone,’’ Mr Fownes said.

‘’To this day we don’t know why he got leukaemia but we are hopeful that by raising funds for research we can help others find the answers to those questions.

‘’Luke was a kind man and I know he’d be really pleased with what we’re doing.’’

The Leukaemia Foundation helped the Fownes family in their time of need, providing them with accommodation close to the Sydney hospital while Luke recovered from the transplant.

‘’The foundation was very good to us and it’s great to be able to help them in return,’’ Mr Fownes said.

Nina Field, the Leukaemia Foundation’s regional development manager, thanked the Gerringong community for their support.

‘’We are forever grateful to those who support us,’’ she said. ‘’To watch the Fownes family go through the journey and see them so committed to helping out is just wonderful.’’

As well as research, the foundation helps patients and families in practical ways – such as transport and accommodation services.