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Nicole McKenna
Amount Raised
$22,441.00
Fundraising Goal $20,000.00

My Message

My Getting of Wisdom (Clarity & Perspective) My getting of wisdom started uneventfully on a bright and sunny winter’s morning in 2018. It was a Tuesday, and I remember walking from my home in Paddington to the Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Darlinghurst. Even though I had a date with a bone marrow biopsy, I was remarkably upbeat and mostly just grateful that I could walk to my appointment on such a glorious morning. One thing about me, that hasn’t really changed much my whole life, is an unflinching optimism and sense that all will be well. It has stood me in good stead, especially on some of my darkest and most difficult days. When the receptionist at my haematologist’s rooms called me the following morning to say I should come in that afternoon, I was a little surprised, but also somewhat reassured when they explained that my specialist now had a meeting on Friday morning (when my appointment was scheduled) so would I mind coming in early? My husband was working in Singapore at the time, and a small part of me thought that maybe something was awry, so I called a friend and asked her to join me (just in case it wasn’t good news). It wasn’t. I will never forget the words that would change my life. “There is no easy way to tell you this Nicole, but you have acute myeloid leukaemia. It is a life-threatening illness, and you will need to be admitted to hospital tomorrow and start treatment on Friday.” She also said a whole bunch of other stuff that went in one ear and out the other, though I do remember her telling me that “there are survivors” which, call me crazy, was not in the least bit reassuring at the time, but I am getting ahead of myself. It was getting dark by the time my friend and I left the specialist’s rooms, and I had a million things to do. The adrenalin kicked in almost immediately, yet I was surprisingly calm and deliberate in everything I did in the following 24 (ish) hours prior to my admission to hospital the next day. I made dozens of calls and sent three times as many emails and texts as I informed, reassured, and comforted my family, friends, colleagues, clients, and my daughters’ school. There was so much to do and so many people to tell. But telling my then teenaged daughters was the hardest and most heart-breaking part. I was honest. I told them that although it was going to be unspeakably awful, I felt in my heart that it was going to be OK, and that we all needed to hold on to that. So, we did. Anyone who has been treated for blood cancer, or who knows anyone who has been treated for blood cancer, knows that it is beyond brutal. You can’t be treated as an outpatient because the treatment leaves you completely and comprehensively vulnerable to every manner of infection; viral, bacterial, fungal, you name it. You are on a cornucopia of anti-viral, anti-fungal and (sometimes also) antibiotics and other medication and each hospital stay lasts for weeks on end as you wait for your blood counts to recover signalling the return of some of your body’s natural immunity and protection against infection. Your hair falls out in clumps and every day there is some other bizarre thing happening in or on your body, from weird rashes and welts to inflammation that baffles your medical team on the daily. And then there’s the crushing fatigue that makes you long to be a new parent with colicky new-born triplets because you know that would be easier. You are woken at 6am every morning to give blood from a port that has been surgically implanted into your upper arm or chest and that makes you feel a bit like a robot, but you just get on with it knowing that all you can do is surrender to the process one day at a time. And sadly, there are no flowers when you’re a blood cancer patient, although everyone is desperate to send them to you. That’s because flowers come with an unacceptable risk of fungal infection from spores that might be present in deteriorating flower water. Yet, despite all of that, you mostly just suck it up knowing that as each day passes you are hopefully one step closer to going home. Home. How you long for it. And then, for me, almost 4 years later, I look back and feel that it was the best terrible experience of my life. And I feel so lucky. How can that be? Before I got sick, I would routinely berate myself and question the choices I had made in my career. Friends (close and further removed) from university, workplaces and life generally had pursued all sorts of impressive and powerful careers (not without great persistence and considerable sacrifice of course) and I would often ask myself if I should have done the same. Did I settle for less than I should have? What was I thinking? Then, during my second round of treatment, I remember looking out the window from the fifth floor of St Vincent’s at the world below, where everyone who was well was going about their business, largely oblivious to the challenges, fears, and misery of the hundreds of sick people in the building above them, and I had an epiphany. Although my first round of treatment had achieved remission, I knew by then that I needed a bone marrow transplant to have any chance of survival. I knew that I might die. And I felt a profound sense of calm, an unshakeable knowledge that the choices I had made up until then were the right ones for me. They had enabled me to live the slightly messy and imperfect, but happy life, I had lived up until then. A life that I loved. And I felt a strange sense of relief that if I did die, I would have lived the best life I could have lived (albeit much shorter than I would have liked). The period leading up to my transplant in October of 2018 was a strange time. I had a 6 week break between my last round of treatment and the transplant, which meant I could attend many of the special events associated with my eldest daughter’s final year of school. It was wonderful to attend special events to celebrate her last year of school, but it was also difficult to attend events where all eyes were on me (exacerbated I’m sure by my baldness) and where I knew that people, with the very best of intentions, found my mortality difficult to reconcile and almost impossible to know what to do with. There were a lot of tears (rarely mine) as people grappled with my illness and the possibility that I might die. That period also saw me hoping for the best, but planning for the worst, advice I received from a very wise older friend. New wills needed to be drafted and executed, financial arrangements had to be considered and long letters had to be written by me to my girls which included every possible piece of wisdom and advice I could conceivably think of to support them through their lives just in case I wasn’t there to tell them myself. It was hard. There is just a 25% chance that your sibling will be a perfect match as your bone marrow donor; so, I hit the jackpot when my sister was identified as exactly that. I was also especially lucky to have a sister who was as persuasive as she is tenacious, not accepting that her age should be a barrier to donating bone marrow to save my life, despite any protocols the hospital might have. She wasn’t having any of it. She was (and remains) a force to be reckoned with for whom I will always be eternally grateful. And on 17 October 2018, she made the donation of her bone marrow in the morning that would save my life and the transplant took place in the afternoon of the same day. There were some very hairy (no pun intended) days, weeks, and even months following the transplant, but here I am, alive and well, almost 4 years later. And while I am a little different physically, I think I am much more different in ways that you can’t see. Believe it or not, but my illness and the subsequent treatment, transplant and recovery took less from me than it gave. Having said that, I would not recommend it as a pathway to greater wisdom, clarity, or perspective. There must surely be better alternatives! And I also know that my experience is unique to me, and that every person diagnosed with and treated for blood cancer has their own individual experience that is likely very different to mine and that I cannot and do not pretend to understand. This is just my story. Greater Wisdom. More Clarity. Better Perspective. All delivered to me courtesy of my experience of leukaemia. It enabled me to clarify what matters most and to stop wasting time on people and problems and situations that just aren’t worth the effort. I am more reflective, a better listener and more in tune with the questions I should ask rather than the responses I should give or the comments I should make. I know what I can control and influence and invest neither time nor energy on what I can’t. I am better professionally; wiser, more insightful, and better able to peel away the layers of the onion. I am more compassionate and understand that compassion often trumps empathy because it allows you to support and comfort a fellow human being without making it about you. And I appreciate the banal even more than I did before (and I really did appreciate life’s simple pleasures before). When you spend weeks and then months on end in hospital, what you dream of and look forward to are not the fancy, expensive things you might think. It’s the simple stuff. Not feeling nauseous 24/7. Paradise. Lying on the floor next to your golden retriever and patting her head and paws and beautiful silky ears. Heaven. The taste of that first latte at your local cafe sitting on a wonky stool and feeling like the luckiest person in the world. Sublime. Sitting in a sunny spot with nowhere else to be and letting the warmth dance on your skin. Bliss. These are the things you long for. The things you dream of. What you miss is being able to taste and enjoy the food you love because the treatment has turned off your taste buds and stolen your appetite. It’s sitting on the couch with your kids on a Sunday night and watching that same Harry Potter movie for the umpteenth time. It’s being able to get dressed and go to work and see your people and do your thing. What you miss is every little moment that makes a life. So, as I approach the fourth anniversary of my transplant, it feels like the right time to participate in the Leukaemia Foundation’s Light the Night Campaign. I know I am one of the very lucky ones for a whole range of reasons. Of the four people I got to know well when I was in hospital, only two survived; a young mother who was diagnosed while still breast feeding her third child and a woman a little older than me whose diagnosis came completely out of the blue. Of the two who died, one was a remarkable and hilarious nun whom I adored and who had worked with Mother Theresa in India as a younger woman years earlier, and the other was a beautiful 19 year old boy whose heartbroken parents did everything they could to save him but it wasn’t to be. When I light my lantern on 30 September, I’ll be thinking of all of them, grateful for those of us who survived and deeply sad for those who didn’t and everyone who loved them. I’d love your support to help other people whose lives have been devastated by a blood cancer diagnosis feel lucky too.
Event Date
Sep 30, 2022 5:00 PM
Location Name
At Home

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My Supporters (162)

David Soanes left a message
Oct 25, 2022 5:13 AM
Caroline
David Soanes donated $1,000.00
Oct 25, 2022 5:12 AM
Ali McEvoy left a message
Oct 12, 2022 11:32 AM
:pray::heart:
Ali McEvoy donated $103.00
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Alison Deitz donated an undisclosed amount
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Molnar Architects donated $103.00
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Emily Brown left a message
Sep 29, 2022 8:48 PM
Beautiful human :hearts:
Emily Brown donated $103.00
Sep 29, 2022 8:46 PM
Anna Maloney left a message
Sep 29, 2022 6:47 PM
Nicole, you are truly inspiring :two_hearts:
Anna Maloney donated $103.00
Sep 29, 2022 6:46 PM
Wendy Peter donated $1,000.00
Sep 29, 2022 4:29 PM
Norma Schwalger donated $103.00
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Virginia left a message
Sep 28, 2022 5:20 PM
You’re such a positive force for good Nicole - I appreciate your generosity and openness and wishing you a beautiful future xx
Virginia Kilborn donated $103.00
Sep 28, 2022 5:18 PM
Susanna kipping donated $53.00
Sep 28, 2022 1:00 PM
Jasna Annika left a message
Sep 26, 2022 10:56 PM
Nicole, I look back on my childhood and credit so much of my magic filled memories to you and your beautiful family. What an amazing achievement and both incredibly strong and inspiring woman you are. We think of you with so much love, Jasna and Annika Poeszus xx
Annika Poeszus donated $53.00
Sep 26, 2022 10:54 PM
Jeannie Duhigg left a message
Sep 26, 2022 8:54 PM
You brave and beautiful woman Nicole. Proud to support your inspiring journey and leadership xxx Jeannie
Jeannie Duhigg donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 26, 2022 8:53 PM
Kiera Carter donated $53.00
Sep 25, 2022 6:19 PM
Geoff Culbert donated $500.00
Sep 24, 2022 9:04 AM
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Zinnia left a message
Sep 22, 2022 2:01 PM
:heart::heart::heart::heart:
Zinnia Robinson donated $53.00
Sep 22, 2022 2:01 PM
Tessa Sexton donated $150.00
Sep 22, 2022 1:25 PM
Sally Treeby left a message
Sep 22, 2022 12:01 PM
Nicole I'm sure you will enable healing way beyond this donation :heart:
Sally Treeby donated $500.00
Sep 22, 2022 11:59 AM
Della Stanley donated $103.00
Sep 22, 2022 10:49 AM
Jen D left a message
Sep 21, 2022 10:55 PM
You are an inspiration Nicole! xxx
Jen Douglas donated $103.00
Sep 21, 2022 10:54 PM
Anne Fulwood donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 21, 2022 8:48 PM
Lindsay Ingram donated $51.50
Sep 21, 2022 3:48 PM
Jane Sheumack left a message
Sep 21, 2022 10:15 AM
Well done Nicole! So so grateful to have you in our world. Love you lots xx Jane
Jane Sheumack donated $500.00
Sep 21, 2022 10:15 AM
Sarah Russell left a message
Sep 20, 2022 11:58 AM
Hi Nicole, You were wise enough already! Best wishes, Sarah
Sarah Russell donated $103.00
Sep 20, 2022 11:56 AM
Justine Woodford donated $750.00
Sep 20, 2022 8:46 AM
Wendy McCarthy left a message
Sep 19, 2022 11:55 PM
For you and Gordon Such brave warriors
Wendy McCarthy donated $1,000.00
Sep 19, 2022 11:53 PM
Ruby left a message
Sep 18, 2022 12:39 PM
Sending you much love Nicole. Always shining a bright light :heart:
Ruby Anandajayasekeram donated $103.00
Sep 18, 2022 12:38 PM
Penny left a message
Sep 16, 2022 6:30 PM
You are inspiring Nicole. Thank you for sharing your strength. X
Penny Hanan donated $103.00
Sep 16, 2022 6:26 PM
Suzanne Mitchell left a message
Sep 16, 2022 4:23 PM
What a rich story and journey - hopefully this inspires us all to appreciate every day
Suzanne Mitchell donated $53.00
Sep 16, 2022 4:22 PM
Stuart Brown left a message
Sep 16, 2022 3:46 PM
Great work Nicole. A very moving and inspiring story.
Stuart Brown donated $103.00
Sep 16, 2022 3:44 PM
Ross Drinnan left a message
Sep 15, 2022 10:59 PM
I had no idea and so delighted to hear you are doing well
Ross Drinnan donated $200.00
Sep 15, 2022 10:57 PM
Mel Foley left a message
Sep 15, 2022 3:44 PM
Thankyou for sharing your journey Nicole. You’ve had a significant impact on so many of our lives already and your efforts here will give so much hope to others. Love Mel (Turner)
Melanie Foley donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 15, 2022 3:39 PM
Holly Vale donated $53.00
Sep 15, 2022 3:03 PM
Georgia left a message
Sep 14, 2022 11:15 PM
So incredible to read your story Nicole, and hoping you reach your target. Will think of you and also of those who didn't make it on the 30th. :relaxed:
Georgia Shepherd donated $53.00
Sep 14, 2022 11:06 PM
Georgie S left a message
Sep 14, 2022 10:17 PM
Thank you for sharing your journey
Georgie Somerset donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 14, 2022 10:16 PM
Marl left a message
Sep 14, 2022 8:39 PM
Nicole. I loved seeing you albeit briefly at the Allens reunion. You are one of those very special people in my career. Thank you for sharing your story. X
Marlo Osborne-Smith donated $103.00
Sep 14, 2022 8:38 PM
Andy left a message
Sep 13, 2022 3:34 PM
All our love and best wishes to you, Chris and all your family.
Andy Oxley donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 13, 2022 3:33 PM
Branko Panich left a message
Sep 13, 2022 12:49 AM
Hi Nicole, thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I was shocked and saddened by what you had to go through but I'm delighted to hear you have come through it stronger and wiser. Wishing you and your family all the best
Branko Panich donated $250.00
Sep 13, 2022 12:46 AM
Warwick Freeland donated $103.00
Sep 12, 2022 5:57 PM
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Phoebe left a message
Sep 12, 2022 2:32 PM
Dear Nicole, long may we love the mundane and the occasional holiday x
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Sep 12, 2022 2:26 PM
Cheryl left a message
Sep 12, 2022 9:47 AM
You are such an inspiration
Cheryl Marais donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 12, 2022 9:46 AM
Amanda Larobina left a message
Sep 12, 2022 9:30 AM
Dear Nicole, the world remains a brighter place for having you in. Thank you for sharing your story and giving hope to others. It was so good to catch up with you recently. x Amanda
Amanda Larobina donated $103.00
Sep 12, 2022 9:28 AM
Bit Shmick Window Cleaning donated $103.00
Sep 11, 2022 12:40 PM
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Sarah left a message
Sep 11, 2022 9:30 AM
You’re a legend Nicole. Sending you tons of :heart::heart::heart: and thanks for your amazing support over the years xxx
Sarah Maddison donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 11, 2022 9:29 AM
Lisa Chung left a message
Sep 11, 2022 7:54 AM
Thank you for reminding us all of what we have to be grateful for
Lisa Chung donated $103.00
Sep 11, 2022 7:53 AM
Mary left a message
Sep 10, 2022 8:25 PM
You’re a wonderful person to take on this mantle. Love your support
mary hopkins donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 10, 2022 8:22 PM
Bryony Weiss donated $53.00
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Herawati Liu donated $350.00
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Jody left a message
Sep 8, 2022 7:14 AM
Big hugs and love :blush:
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RANIE Nguyen donated $103.00
Sep 7, 2022 4:14 PM
Michelle McGregor left a message
Sep 7, 2022 3:36 PM
Thank you for this beautiful article Nicole and for sharing your hard learnt wisdom. Love Michelle
Michelle McGregor donated $300.00
Sep 7, 2022 3:34 PM
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carolyn burnett donated $103.00
Sep 7, 2022 12:20 PM
Keryn Thompson left a message
Sep 7, 2022 12:19 PM
Your amazing story and attitude is inspirational
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Caroline Lor donated $103.00
Sep 7, 2022 8:35 AM
Sarah Gardner left a message
Sep 7, 2022 8:03 AM
Beautiful Nicole. Sending love from another blood cancer thrived :heart:
Sarah Gardner donated $103.00
Sep 7, 2022 8:02 AM
Ian left a message
Sep 7, 2022 7:59 AM
So lovely to see you last week Nicole
Ian McGill donated $500.00
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Christina Alvarez donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 7:05 PM
Ann Haygarth donated $53.00
Sep 6, 2022 5:29 PM
Carla left a message
Sep 6, 2022 5:12 PM
No words, just a beautiful piece to read and glad you are here to write it!! :kissing_heart:
Chris & Carla Chapple donated $200.00
Sep 6, 2022 5:06 PM
Tracey Carr left a message
Sep 6, 2022 4:44 PM
You have always been such a larger than life personality, even as a child. Nothing can snuff your light out!
Tracey Carr donated $30.00
Sep 6, 2022 4:43 PM
James Flintoft left a message
Sep 6, 2022 4:37 PM
Nicole, am in awe about how you’ve tackled the last several years in your own inimitable way: hopeful, no BS, and with great courage, compassion for others … and your signature wicked humour!
James Flintoft donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 6, 2022 4:33 PM
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Sep 6, 2022 4:22 PM
Angela Pearsall donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 4:12 PM
Meaghan left a message
Sep 6, 2022 4:05 PM
What an amazing story Nicole! You're one brave and inspiring woman. Thank you for telling your story.
M Aldridge-Chow donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 4:03 PM
Julian Riekert left a message
Sep 6, 2022 3:42 PM
I salute your courage, your willingness to share your story and your determination to enjoy life, come what may. You are an inspiration to us all.
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Sep 6, 2022 3:40 PM
Sheree Mckenna donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 3:38 PM
Deborah Stonley left a message
Sep 6, 2022 3:37 PM
An incredible and moving story of hope, love and appreciation. Go well, Nicole
Deborah Stonley donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 3:35 PM
Dom xx left a message
Sep 6, 2022 3:34 PM
Take care and stay well Nicole
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Sep 6, 2022 3:33 PM
Karen left a message
Sep 6, 2022 2:52 PM
Love support positivity encouragement family and friends :heart:
Karen Fallo donated $53.00
Sep 6, 2022 2:49 PM
Jeanette Rae donated $53.00
Sep 6, 2022 12:24 PM
Lydia left a message
Sep 6, 2022 12:23 PM
What an inspirational journey Nicole ! Wishing you all the best.
Lydia Harb donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 6, 2022 12:21 PM
Jacqueline Downes donated $103.00
Sep 6, 2022 8:23 AM
Julia left a message
Sep 6, 2022 7:44 AM
An inspiration as you’ve always been to me Nicole xo
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Sep 6, 2022 7:43 AM
David Grant Freeland donated $300.00
Sep 6, 2022 6:48 AM
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Elizabeth left a message
Sep 6, 2022 5:31 AM
Sending love to you and this special cause from the Hutchison family
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Sep 6, 2022 5:30 AM
Merren McArthur donated $200.00
Sep 6, 2022 12:47 AM
CPR left a message
Sep 6, 2022 12:30 AM
Thanks for sharing your personal story. An inspiration to live by
Carol Ross donated $500.00
Sep 6, 2022 12:29 AM
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Sep 6, 2022 12:10 AM
Sue G left a message
Sep 5, 2022 10:29 PM
Thank you for always being a ray of sunshine
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Camilla and Anton Van den Berg left a message
Sep 5, 2022 10:22 PM
In support x
Camilla and Anton Van den Berg donated $150.00
Sep 5, 2022 10:18 PM
Shaneen Argall left a message
Sep 5, 2022 10:11 PM
So glad you beat this monster and have the wisdom and courage to share your incredible story Nicole. :purple_heart:
Shaneen Argall donated $200.00
Sep 5, 2022 10:08 PM
Emma Warren donated $103.00
Sep 5, 2022 9:50 PM
Toula Panopoulos left a message
Sep 5, 2022 9:39 PM
Nicole, I am full of admiration of your courage, tenacity, determination and resistance even in the face of adversity. May God bless you and keep you strong. :pray::skin-tone-2::heart:
Toula Panopoulos donated $200.00
Sep 5, 2022 9:31 PM
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Erin Hickey left a message
Sep 5, 2022 9:02 PM
You are amazing!
Erin Hickey donated $53.00
Sep 5, 2022 9:01 PM
Carone Huang donated $500.00
Sep 5, 2022 7:50 PM
Claire Whitney donated $30.00
Sep 5, 2022 7:36 PM
Gretchen left a message
Sep 5, 2022 7:02 PM
Nicole, your last 4 years has been incredible. I admire your amazing strength and i am so very glad for you, Chris and the girls that you are here to share your reflections - some of which I need to take to heart. Thank you for articulating such thought provoking contemplations.
Gretchen Cooke donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 5, 2022 6:56 PM
Melissa left a message
Sep 5, 2022 5:47 PM
Keep shining your light, Nicole. xxx
Melissa Whiting donated an undisclosed amount
Sep 5, 2022 5:45 PM
Danielle Berto donated $103.00
Sep 5, 2022 5:05 PM
Jane Nosworthy left a message
Sep 5, 2022 4:45 PM
Thanks so much for sharing your story Nicole xx
Jane Nosworthy donated $53.00
Sep 5, 2022 4:44 PM
Nicole McKenna donated $1,000.00
Sep 2, 2022 7:17 PM
Leukaemia Foundation left a message
Sep 2, 2022 7:03 PM
Hello Nicole, welcome to Light the Night 2022. Thank you for joining us to stand together, show support, raise money, and share hope. Your help and support will ensure the Leukaemia Foundation can be there for patients and their loved ones through every scary, uncertain moment that follows a blood cancer diagnosis. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out on 1800 500 088, we'll support you every step as you fundraise.