Two years ago, popular fashion and entertainment reporter Elle Halliwell received life changing news—she was living with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). Just 48 hours later she received another shock—she was pregnant with her first child. Ahead of Daffodil Day Elle is sharing her story to highlight how, through donations, Cancer Council’s ground-breaking research can change lives.
“You can’t explain the heartbreak of hearing doctors tell you to terminate your pregnancy. I couldn’t quite accept it, and so my husband Nick and I turned to Professor Tim Hughes—hoping for another option. His advice ended up saving my life, and that of my baby.
Professor Hughes is one of Australia’s leading CML researchers. He was able to direct me to a course of treatment which was safe to take while pregnant and saw the healthy delivery of my beautiful son, Tor, in December 2016.
I’m on tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment, something that was pioneered by Professor Hughes and his team from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). Without the funding from Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project that allows Professor Hughes to carry out his work, I don’t know how my life would have turned out differently.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, my leukaemia marker levels (BCR-ABL) were around 0.15. Now, they’re far more manageable at just 0.0045.
Tor is now two years old, and every day I’m so grateful that I found Professor Hughes when I did. That’s why I’m teaming up with him again this Daffodil Day to reach more people and help to raise funds for this research that saved my son’s life.
Only 10 or 15 years ago, CML was considered a death sentence. But thanks to research, I now have access to a life-saving drug. That’s just incredible, and seeing how much it can change a life—first-hand—I’m inspired to help more people in the same position.
Being a mum has made me even more passionate about finding a cure for cancer. I want my son to grow up not fearing this illness. I am proof that research can change a cancer diagnosis from hopeless to hopeful, and much of this is due to the generous donations from the public on days such as Daffodil Day.
It’s more than just a flower; it’s a gift of hope for the future. Daffodils have, in a way, given my son the chance to grow up with his mum, and we are both so grateful.
That’s why I’m dedicating my daffodil to every mum diagnosed with cancer this year.