New lymphoma fellowship made possible by gift in Will
In 2020, thanks to the generous decision made by Brian Jenkins to include a gift of $500,000 in his Will, The Alfred was able to establish The Jenkins Fellowship for Lymphoma – one of four fellowships in our clinical haematology department dedicated to finding new treatments and therapies for people living with blood disorders.
Brian was a committed supporter of The Alfred, dating back to 2010, when he first funded lifesaving equipment for our Intensive Care Unit. This was followed by continued support for a further seven years until, unfortunately, Brian was admitted to The Alfred himself with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February 2017.
Brian's daughters, Melinda and Nicole, learned the extent of his incredible philanthropy at this time. ‘Dad was never one to brag about his ‘good deeds’ or require recognition. So it wasn’t until we saw his name on the donation honour board in The Alfred’s main entry hall that we realised just how much he had been supporting the hospital during his lifetime,’ Nicole said.
Brian realised he wanted to do something more significant with his giving to The Alfred and decided to create a legacy by including a generous gift in his Will to the hospital. Sadly, Brian passed away in July 2017. Nicole and Melinda worked with the Foundation team over time to establish a fellowship for lymphoma research in their father’s name.
Dr Paola Polistena was appointed to the fellowship position in February 2020. She is currently enrolling and managing patients onto clinical trials with the aim to further advance research and treatment for lymphoma patients. The Alfred is seeing an increasing number of patients with higher grade lymphomas and the fellowship is already impacting patient outcomes for people like 71-year-old Hans Spierings from East Gippsland.
Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2020, Hans commenced an eighteen-week course of chemotherapy which saw his cancer reduce by around half. Unfortunately, Hans became immune to the treatment. It seemed there was nothing more that could be done when, through his locum GP, Hans learnt of a clinical trial being conducted at The Alfred.
After deciding Hans was suitable for the trial, he received the innovative treatment through continual infusion which is when he first met Paola. ‘Being in the hospital for around a month, I got to know Paola and I just found her to be a beautiful person who I felt very comfortable with,’ Hans said.
Paola believes in the importance of establishing a good doctor/patient relationship and it is clear the pair have built a winning team. Thankfully Hans is taking well to the treatment with his recent results showing he is now in complete remission. ‘How long that lasts I don’t know, but for the present time we’ve had a good win,’ he said.
One of Nicole and Melinda’s hopes for their father’s legacy was to see improvements in life expectancy and better treatment options for lymphoma patients. ‘Dad wanted his gift to make a difference to the lives of others and have measurable results for fighting lymphoma,’ said Melinda. ‘We are so pleased to hear this is already happening and Paola's work will continue because of the gift Dad left to The Alfred in his Will.’