retiring in 2006, Sunshine Coast couple Richard and Heinke Butt have led a very
active life, walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, reaching Mt Everest Base
Camp, and trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro.
dramatically for the couple when they were enjoying a quiet camping holiday in
July 2014. Richard received a surprise phone call from his GP.
to see me to discuss some recent blood test results,” said 65-year-old Richard.
He had been
having routine monthly blood tests for a blood disorder called essential
thrombocythaemia (ET), and after seeing some abnormal results, Richard was
referred to a haematologist in Brisbane.
“That late evening
consultation is a moment in my life I will never forget. The transition from
normal life to complete turmoil was instantaneous,” Richard said.
week, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
“I knew I was
going to beat this disease and a steely determination welled up inside me from
Chemotherapy and stem cell transplant
chemotherapy immediately, and went into remission after his first round of
treatment. However, to give him the greatest chance of survival, he would need stem
11, I received my life-giving stem cells from my donor and the long road to
recovery began,” Richard said.
after the transplant Richard was affected by relatively serious skin GVHD and
was put on high dose steroids to control it.
side-effects of coming off the steroid over five months were difficult – it was
a trying period,” he said.
setbacks, Richard remains positive and matter-of-fact, explaining it’s “just
hurdles to get over on a journey like this”.
With treatment based in Brisbane, Richard and Heinke had to relocate from
their Sunshine Coast home.
fortunate to get a self-contained unit at the Clem Jones Sunland Village where we stayed for five months. It
made a huge difference,” Richard said.
the financial aspect, to be in a facility with its own network of patients and
carers who are in a similar situation, and if you consider the support staff
aspect – even though we were fortunate and didn’t need a lot of that – it was
lovely people who will be friends for life,” said Richard, who found out about
the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Buddies program several months ago and
recently completed his training.
“It was a
godsend for me to talk to people who had already gone through a transplant and
I thought if I could do the same thing, it would be a good way of giving back.”
says he feels “excellent”.
respects my life has taken a turn for the better because I tend to appreciate
everything I do.
“I look at
life through different eyes and don’t take anything for granted.”
He and Heinke
are looking at tackling another goal on their bucket list, one they were
working towards when the news came in that Richard had AML.
“As soon as I
get clearance, we’ll go high altitude trekking to Aconcagua, a peak in South
To read the full story, download the
latest copy of AML News.
More Inspiring Stories