Jillian Williams (seated) with Bevan Bartlett and Fiona Dailey.
Jillian Williams (seated) with Bevan Bartlett and Fiona Dailey.

Trio receives a gift of life

WHAT do a sales assistant, a retired Queensland Rail worker and a librarian have in common?

They’ve all received the gift of life.

Rockhampton’s Jillian Williams, 58, and Bevan Bartlett, 62, are bone marrow recipients and Fiona Dailey, 52, a stem-cell recipient, after being diagnosed with different forms of leukaemia.

“It’s a life-changing experience. Without our donors we wouldn’t be here today,” Jillian said.

Jillian, Bevan and Fiona all received donations from unrelated donors and have become friends through their sickness.

In 2003, Jillian was diagnosed with leukaemia, and after nine months of chemotherapy, she received a bone-marrow transplant.

Jillian said she had bad chest pain on the Saturday morning, and that afternoon she was told she had cancer and was flown to hospital in Brisbane.

Taking pride in her appearance, Jillian found it hard losing all her fingernails, toenails and hair as a result of chemotherapy, but was lucky to have most of her family to support her down in Brisbane.

Before Bevan was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004, he had experienced bleeding, bruising and fatigue.

“I was radiating heat like an inbuilt furnace,” Bevan said with a laugh.

He had regular blood tests, so when he received the results of the last one before his diagnosis, he knew something wasn’t right.

Within a few weeks Bevan was admitted to hospital in Brisbane for treatment.

“The hardest thing was flying out of Rockhampton not knowing if I would ever see my grandchildren and my children again,” Bevan said.

In 2006, Bevan met the man who gave him a second chance at life.

“I found out he ( the donor) was first cousins with Gordon Ramsay. He was a full-blood Scotsman with a colourful vocabulary. We still keep in touch,” Bevan said.

Fiona, the newest recipient of the three, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2008 and received her stem-cell transplant last year.

Living on a farm at Kabra, outside of Rockhampton, Fiona had to leave her family to spend nine months in Brisbane.

“It was so hard being away from my family and home,” she said in tears.

Her daughter Emma became a mum at the farm.

Jillian, Bevan and Fiona all said they were so grateful of the support the Leukaemia Foundation provided through the tough times and couldn’t thank their donors enough.

“They’re just amazing, the people, the support and everything they did for us,” Jillian said.



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