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Cultural custodian and knowledge holder Matthew Doyle unites with leading cancer charity to amplify the voices of First Nations people

Leukaemia Foundation 4 mins read

Today on Indigenous Literacy Day and during Blood Cancer Month, Matthew Doyle, a descendant of the Muruwari people, cultural custodian and knowledge holder, will unite with the Leukaemia Foundation as a voice for First Nations people.

Matthew has sadly experienced the darkness of blood cancer when he tragically lost both of his twin sons, Shawn and Jeremy, to blood cancer at the ages of one and two years old respectively.

On losing his boys, Matthew says; “There’s not a day that goes past that I don’t think about my children. I think it’s important that people tell their stories.”

Matthew hopes that by joining forces with the Leukaemia Foundation as the national ambassador for First Nations people, that he can raise much-needed awareness of blood cancer and of the support available to those impacted by the disease, including First Nation communities.

“On Indigenous Literacy Day, I want to encourage fellow Indigenous Australians experiencing the devastation of blood cancer, to reach out to the Leukaemia Foundation to access their support and services,” said Matthew.

“I want people to know that they are not alone. The Leukaemia Foundation has a range of resources to help them and their loved ones through this dark time.”

In addition to his passion for advocating for improved access to treatment, care and support for First Nations people, Matthew recently lent his knowledge to the Leukaemia Foundation on five new information booklets.

The information booklets are designed and written specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander blood cancer patients and harness a rich storytelling culture to help them better understand their diagnosis and what to expect from blood cancer treatment.

They cover a range of important topics, including information about blood cancer, symptoms, tests and treatments like chemotherapy, as well as stem cell transplants – a common treatment for blood cancer.

To access these booklets and the services and support of the Leukaemia Foundation, Matthew is encouraging Indigenous Australians impacted by blood cancer to reach out to the Leukaemia Foundation, this month and beyond, via Australia’s only dedicated blood cancer support line.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti added that highly skilled blood cancer support professionals are at the end of each call to the blood cancer support line, ready to guide patients, carers and family members through the emotional, physical and psychosocial challenges of blood cancer.

“We know that better care and support for First Nations people with blood cancer is necessary to ensure the same health and wellbeing outcomes as the broader Australian community,” said Mr Tanti.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is actively working to address the disparities contributing to the number of blood cancer related deaths among First Nations people, and right now these are still higher than non-Aboriginal people and this is unacceptable.”

The Leukaemia Foundation offers access to life-changing, wraparound health services including emotional, health and wellbeing support, practical support, and the ability to connect with others who understand what you are going through in a safe and supportive environment.

Anyone impacted by blood cancer, at any age and stage, can contact Australia’s blood cancer support line Monday to Friday via calling 1800 620 420 or visit bloodcancer.org.au

The Leukaemia Foundation’s booklets for First Nations Australians can be downloaded from the Leukaemia Foundation website (leukaemia.org.au) and will also be distributed to health clinics around the country.

INTERVIEW MATTHEW THIS INDIGENOUS LITERACY DAY:  Matthew Doyle is available to speak about his personal story of loss and resilience and what he hopes to achieve in collaboration with Leukaemia Foundation during Blood Cancer Month and beyond.

If you would like to interview Matthew on Indigenous Literacy Day, or an alternate day this month, please email media@leukaemia.org.au.

-END-

First Nations Australians and blood cancer – statistics:

  • First Nations Australians are 40 per cent less likely to attend hospital for an acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) diagnosis.
  • When First Nations people do present to hospital, they are more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage of cancer, and therefore, their cancer survival rate is 20 per cent lower than non-Indigenous people.
  • The Leukaemia Foundation is committed to addressing these disparities to ultimately reduce cancer-related deaths among First Nations Australians. 

About Matthew Doyle:

  • Matthew is a professional musician, composer, dancer, choreographer, cultural consultant, and educator, with a passion for passing on and sharing cultural knowledge of the Sydney clans.
  • A descendant of the Muruwari people from the Lightning Ridge area of NSW, he grew up in Southern Sydney on Dharawal land. 
  • Matthew credits his First Nations heritage and culture for playing a key role in his twin sons’ short but rich lives and reflects on its importance in shaping him as a person, nearly 25 years after experiencing the very darkest moments blood cancer can bring.
  • Matthew supports the Leukaemia Foundation’s work to deliver better outcomes for First Nations people living with blood cancer and their families, including providing evidence-based policy advice and amplifying the voices of First Nations people impacted by blood cancer.
  • Matthew performed a Welcome to Country as part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s Light the Night ceremony last year. We have beautiful images and footage we can provide.

About us:

About the Leukaemia Foundation: The Leukaemia Foundation has been named Australia's most reputable cancer charity and third most reputable charity overall. We stand with Australia to help cure and conquer blood cancer – with care. Together we are attacking every blood cancer, from every direction, in every way we can. We stand beside every Australian to be their voice and their someone-to-turn to, fighting to get them access to the best care. We also accelerate research that is delivering rapid advancements in blood cancer diagnosis and treatments. Plus, we provide services and support that empower people living with any blood cancer to live well after diagnosis. You can learn more about the Leukaemia Foundation and blood cancer at leukaemia.org.au 


Contact details:

If you would like to interview Matthew on Indigenous Literacy Day, or an alternate day this month, please email media@leukaemia.org.au.

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