Jase faced his cancer with an army of donors
Jase’s cancer diagnosis turned his life upside down and brought a community of blood donors together.
Jase has always looked out for those around him. Over the past 12 months, he’s been to hell and back, undergoing chemotherapy, stem cell treatment and a range of other medical procedures – but for him, the hardest moment was explaining his cancer diagnosis to his loved ones. Even in remission, Jase hasn’t stopped thinking about others. He’s working hard to raise awareness for Leukemia and he’s sharing his story to show the rest of Australia just how vital blood donations are in treating it.
‘Over 24 hours, I received 4 blood transfusions’
Before his diagnosis, things were looking good for Jase. He was married to the woman he loved, had two beautiful children and was running a successful plumbing business. Everything was going according to plan – until it wasn’t. Deep inside Jase’s bones, his stem cells had begun overproducing white blood cells that were too immature to prevent infection. Jase didn’t realise it, but he was experiencing the first signs of a deadly cancer known as Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, and his world was about to change forever.
Like most Australians, Jase had a vague idea of what cancer treatment involved. He knew he would need to undergo chemotherapy and he had some idea that blood and bone marrow donations could be required, but nothing could prepare him for what he was about to face.
Jase’s only chance at survival was a stem cell transplant, but before he could receive the life-saving treatment he needed to undergo chemotherapy. While it was vital in killing off any cancerous cells, it also decimated his immune system and his body’s ability to produce red blood cells. The heavy doses of chemo left Jase vulnerable to infection and there were a few occasions these almost proved fatal. Recounting one of the scarier moments Jase recalls, “I had 5 haematologists, 5 ICU doctors and a bunch of nurses, pumping everything into me to prevent my body shutting down as my brave wife Sarah watched on helplessly. Over 24 hours, I received 4 blood transfusions as well as a platelet transfusion. If it wasn’t for the Geelong Hospital medical staff and the donors who gave their blood, I don’t think I would have survived.”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only occasion where Jase was in urgent need of blood. During his treatment, he received over 20 transfusions, but his experience isn’t unique. Right now, there are thousands of Australians just like Jase who are undergoing treatment for cancer, many of whom will need blood. To meet this demand, one third of all red blood cells donated to Lifeblood go towards cancer treatment as well as two thirds of all platelets. These numbers can be scary to think about, but for every patient in need, there are countless more Australians who can give blood – even Jase is doing his bit!
After one of his close calls, Jase’s brother-in-law Pete set up a Lifeblood Team for him. Aptly named Team Long Live Jase Nelson, the group was created to give anyone who cared for him a way to show their support. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of people who really care about Jase. Currently, the team has over 200 donors, half of which had never given blood before. And while Jase won’t be able to donate for another 5 years, he’s still making sure the team stays motivated, posting videos of his transfusions and celebrating every time they hit a new milestone.
So, if you’re like Jase and you’re always looking out for those around you or maybe you’re looking to support a loved one who’s been diagnosed with cancer, giving blood is one of the most meaningful and impactful things you can do. You can book a donation as an individual or make your own team. Whatever you choose, know the blood you give is life-saving.