Leukaemia Foundation Ambassador For Dry July 2020

When Australian singer Hayley Jensen takes her camper trailer away, she likes to set it up just the way her dad did. The camper is her dad’s legacy. Like many of those projects that we all want to get to “one day”, it had been sitting in the front yard for years.

Rod Thomas, an Albury-Wodonga local, was an avid fly fisherman and loved to camp, but it wasn’t until his Acute mantle cell lymphoma came back for a second time that he decided to make the camper trailer his final masterpiece. Rod sadly lost his fight to the blood cancer in April 2016. It’s the reason why Hayley is so passionate about supporting the Leukaemia Foundation as an Ambassador for Dry July in 2020.

A well-known and much-loved Australian singer, Hayley first sprang into the national spotlight after placing fourth in the 2004 season of Australian Idol. She sang a heart wrenching rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel – a song her dad chose especially for her. Earlier this year Hayley re-released the song with Australian Country Music royalty Beccy Cole, and when she officially starts her Dry July for 2020 – the Leukaemia Foundation will be sharing it in his honour. Hayley will be going dry this July and fundraising to help support the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Cancer Support Coordinators, who walk alongside with blood cancer patients like Rod, every day, offering care and support as they navigate their way through their illness.

“I was an only child, and I was always the typical daddy’s little girl,” Hayley said. He was just so proud of everything I was doing with my music and a huge supporter. He used to tell me ‘You’ve got to go for it. You need to make the most of your gift. He has always been a motivation for me, to keep on pushing when things are hard. Hayley was working in Sydney when her dad called her out of the blue one day. He very rarely called me during the day. As soon as I saw the phone ring, I thought it was strange. He said he had found a lump under his arm putting his deodorant on and thought What the hell is that, he couldn’t really identify that he had any other real symptoms other than just finding that lump, out of the blue, one day. I’ve got bloody cancer,” he said. But don’t worry – they think they can fix it.”

It was Stage 4, Mantle cell lymphoma. Rod and Hayley didn’t know at the time that only five percent of all lymphomas are mantle cell lymphoma. Very few people live beyond a couple of years of diagnosis. Rod had intense chemotherapy as a stem cell transplant which went really well. For a while, he achieved remission. But unfortunately, the blood cancer crept back. He tried a trial drug – but unfortunately it didn’t work.

“The last trip he did was to drive up to Tamworth to watch me sing at the Country Music Festival. It was so amazing to have him there and he called it the ‘trip of a lifetime’.

He took his camper trailer and travelled along all the back roads his own dad used to drive as a truck driver many years before. I know it was very cathartic for him to reconnect with his family history too.” Hayley was by her dad’s side when he passed away not long after

Today – she’s committed to helping raise awareness of blood cancer and supporting other Australians as they travel their own road on their own blood cancer journeys.

Donate now: https://www.dryjuly.com/users/hayley-jensen-2

Sign up to Dry July and support the Leukaemia Foundation: https://www.dryjuly.com/leukaemiafoundation