Perry Judd jumped at the chance “to play a small part in making someone’s
journey that little bit easier”, and became a Blood Buddy.
“When I was
diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in January 2013, I had no
knowledge of what I was going to experience or potentially feel throughout the
journey of treatment, and hopefully recovery,” said Perry, 41.
find explanations from the medical perspective helpful in terms of coping
strategies and they certainly didn’t put me at ease and give me much of a sense
of hope,” he said.
craving positive stories from survivors, to give me something to hang on to. I
would latch on to those as beacons of hope for my own emotional wellbeing.”
It was at a
Leukaemia Foundation education session, which Perry attended between chemo
cycles in 2013, where he met someone who’d had a transplant several years
“It was the
first time I’d heard firsthand from someone who’d been through a similar
journey as the one I was in the middle of.
my only contact with the AML community was with fellow patients on the ward,
and we were all struggling with the same desire for real stories to help us
Blood Buddies Program
“So, when I
became aware of the Blood Buddies program, I jumped at the chance to let my
story help others,” said Perry.
He was paired
with 45-year-old Chris Sipeki, was diagnosed in January 2016 just after moving
with his wife and two children into their dream home on the NSW Central
about someone who has actually walked in your shoes is invaluable,” said Chris,
who had a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor in July 2016.
“What I hoped
to gain from Perry, was a patient’s perspective of what I could expect from the
treatment I was receiving at the time and also a longer-term outlook, to help
me understand how this would affect the rest of my life,” Chris said.
not only facts about Perry’s journey and how AML has affected his life but
also, on a personal level, I feel as though Perry and I have bonded and formed
a friendship rather than just a support network.”
experience was extremely helpful. I was always fairly positive about my
diagnosis to begin with, but speaking to Perry cemented my positive outlook and
belief that I was going to get through this.
“And, if I’d
been feeling slightly depressed before talking to Perry, our conversations
always succeeded in cheering me up.
valuable thing I gained from talking to Perry was the encouragement and hope he
gave not only to me, but to people around me like my family and friends.
“Here is a
guy who was in a very similar situation to me, nearly four years down the track
after his transplant and still going strong. If Perry can do it why can’t I!”
describes his Buddy experience as “nothing but positive”. He and Chris have had
three phone catch-up sessions over seven months, starting in early 2016.
“I feel we’ve
both benefited from the contact,” said Perry who felt the experience helped him
to stay grounded and not to be afraid of delving back into his memories of
treatment and the emotional rollercoaster it was.
“Chris and I
had an instant rapport. Both of a similar age, with a couple of kids, the same
socio demographic, decent careers and similar interests in camping and sport,
we hit it off,” said Perry.
“In a normal
social situation, we’d become mates.”
to Chris’ questions, Perry said he had trouble remembering details of some of
his treatment at first.
“The things I
was living, day in day out during my treatment, have become a distant memory,
and I’ve realised our inbuilt coping mechanisms are so great at moving on and
looking ahead, that we can easily forget the grizzly details of past negative
experiences,” Perry said.
“I think that
was somehow a good thing for Chris to see, as it helps to know that your
perspective changes as you go through treatment, recovery and then back to
his questions and thinking about things from that perspective again, now that I
am at a different stage in my life, has helped me to rethink the whole process
and how I can extract meaning from it.”
that Chris is of Hungarian heritage and my wife is Serbian. These are
neighbouring Eastern European countries. We will both be in that vicinity in
June next year and we’ve toyed with the idea of catching up there.”
more about the Blood Buddies program.
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