Community digs deep after leukaemia call

TWENTY-FOUR hours was all it took for this small community to brighten the outlook of one young local family.

Karen Anderson, a shop assistant at Lifestyle Footwear, mother of two and wife of St Joseph's primary school teacher Damian Anderson, was diagnosed with leukaemia at 10.45am last Tuesday.

On her way home to start packing her bags for hospital, she called into her friend Kristy Fittock's house to break the news.

By 6.30pm that day Karen was started ing treatment at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane with husband Damian by her side.

Feeling useless, three hours away from their close friend, Kristy Fittock Kristy and her sister Hayley Kirby took the situation into their own hands.

"It's an easy way for people to feel like they're helping," Mrs Fittock said.

"We wanted to send them flowers, but because of her immune system she wouldn't be able to touch or smell them."

In a move that Mrs Kirby described "turning the tables back on the internet" the pair started an online fundraiser on youcaring.com that between kicked off at 2pm last Thursday afternoon and by 2pm the next day had raised almost $6500 for the Anderson family.

"In this case the internet brought a community together," Mrs Kirby said.

"Even though they have private health care we just wanted to help them cover extra medical bills and things like food, and fuel.

"Money is the last thing on their minds right now and we want to help keep it that way."

At the time this paper went to print the funds stood at $8579.

"We have kids the same age as theirs and you just can't imagine it happening to you," Mrs Kirby said.

"They're such a down-to-earth couple and you know Karen would be doing the same thing for us."

For Damian and Karen, the generosity came as a shock.

"The first we saw of it was on Facebook," Damian said. "People bag out small towns but when something like this happens you think that's right, that's why we're in a small community.

"The phone has been ringing non-stop and we saw people donate who we haven't seen in eight years, it's just unbelievable.

"The Leukaemia Foundation has been amazing, if it weren't for them I wouldn't be able to afford to stay so close."

At the time the Border Post caught up with Damian he was busy in a hotel room taking care of the laundry for his wife.

"The biggest thing for Karen is she doesn't want people to feel sorry for her," he said. "Her attitude is that she's got this and she's going to deal with it."

Financially, the flood gates are yet to open as though some of the treatment is covered, insurance has limits.

"Just looking at the amount of blood they've pumped in and out of her in the past few days we just don't know what the final bill is going to be," Damian said.

For their two children Brianna, 5, and Coen, 2, Damian said the past week had been more of a holiday at nan and pop's.

"They just think that mummy and daddy are off on a holiday to get mummy better," he laughed.

 while they're having sleep overs at nan's house," he laughed.

At just 36, the doctors admit that Karen is much younger than the usual leukaemia patient.

"They said it's unusual for her to get it so young but that it's also a positive because the odds are in her favour," he said.

"She'd lost weight and was coming up in bruises but she just put it down to being the mum of two very active kids."

Karen won't leave hospital for at least the next month and while her immune system recouperates, she will then move to a nearby outpatient centre for a further two months.

"So hopefully she'll have this bugger of a thing beaten and we'll be home and hosed in three months," Damian said.

The campaign for Karen closes on March 27, to donate visit www.youcaring.com or for those who don't have Facebook drop in to see Lynda at Stanthorpe Jewellers or Maria at Lifestyle Footwear.

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