Liam Lund suffers from a type of bone marrow failure syndrome that stops him living the life of a normal seven-year-old boy. But your choice in tomatoes and capsicums can make a difference.
Liam Lund can’t live the life of a little boy – the seven-year-old from Leongatha in regional Victoria isn’t allowed to ride a bike, jump on a trampoline or kick the footy with his big brothers because these everyday activities could do him a world of harm.
In April, Liam was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anaemia, a type of bone marrow failure syndrome.
His body doesn’t produce enough blood cells and platelets.
“It’s very hard, especially when you have three boys but they can’t be boys, they can’t have their scuffle,” says his mother, Vivienne Lund.
“When he looks at me and says, ‘Why won’t you let me ride my bike, why won’t you let me jump on the trampoline?’ These are the things the doctor has asked not to be done.
“If he does something as simple as ride his bike and crash, it’s not a great scenario if something happens.”
The only cure for BMFS is a bone-marrow transplant and some Syndromes can be managed with medication and regular transfusions.
But that’s not without its ongoing challenges. Liam was on so much medication that he eventually refused to take it, so he needed to have a nasogastric tube inserted.
“There’s always a hurdle somewhere that needs to be crossed,” Vivienne says.
“Liam tells me he just wants to be a normal boy, to have a shower like everyone else, but showers are difficult because his double lumen Hickman line (used to provide access to veins) isn’t able to get wet.
“As a parent, you’re trying to help your kid feel normal but you also need to process what’s happening.”
Vivienne is being supported by Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, a charity that highlights the need to fund research for BMFS cures. A Telehealth nurse checks in with her once a week to see how Liam is going and what Vivienne needs.
“It would be even more difficult without Maddie’s Vision, because having that support helps. You know you’re not alone and there are other families having the same experiences,” she says.
The goal of MRV is that one day, no one will have that experience. In the meantime, it’s about researching ways to improve patients’ day-to-day experience and quality of life.
That’s the aim of the inaugural Fiona Riewoldt Nursing and Allied Health Fellowship, funded by the Maddie’s Month campaign, where 10c from every specially marked pack of Flavorite tomatoes and capsicums sold in Coles stores until November 24, goes towards the Fellowship.
“No-one really understands the impact of these diseases and the horrendous side effects of treatment, unless they are living it. I firmly believe this Fellowship presents the opportunity to vastly change lives and outcomes for all those suffering, just as Maddie wished,” says Fiona Riewoldt, Maddie’s mum.
Maddie’s Month is a collaboration between Flavorite, Coles and MRV. It was established in 2016 when Flavorite co-founder, Mark Millis, was battling blood cancer and approached Coles to help MRV.
Since its inception, it’s set to raise $500,000 to help fight BMFS. The funds have resulted in the establishment of a Fellowship at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute and supported the launch of the Australian Bone Marrow Failure Biobank to analyse tissue, blood and genetic material from patients.
Mark has since passed away, but his sons, Chris and Tom, are now involved.
“His fight and spirit live on in us and he’d be so proud that we are continuing to support such a great cause,” Chris says.