Volunteer Week – Shining a Spotlight on Francesca Pavone

Q.1 How did you become connected to Snowdome?

A. I became aware of Snowdome through one of our key business clients, Blake’s Feast catering.

They were assisting Snowdome to put together their annual fundraiser the ‘Bloody Good Dinner‘ to raise money for blood cancer and bone marrow failure research. They were seeking charity partners.

It made perfect sense to me that the business my husband Nick Gulino and I own, called Dann Event Hire, partner with Snowdome for this fundraiser as coincidentally, at that very time I was undergoing treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma which  I had only recently been diagnosed with.

When I learnt that my oncologist, the remarkable Professor Miles Prince was the co-founder of Snowdome, I couldn’t have been more committed. There was a personal connection, it was very close to our hearts.

Q. 2 Why do you donate so much of your time and Dann Event Hire time and resources to Snowdome?

A. When I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2016 my whole world was turned upside down.

As a mother of 3 young children, I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear, panic and devastation but amongst the chaos, there was always hope. My treatment plan consisted of 6 months of chemotherapy and 1 month of radiotherapy. Although I knew that this was my only option, I couldn’t understand why, when there had been so many medical advancements, as yet there was still no proven alternative to the toxic and outdated chemotherapy treatment I was about to endure.

Consequently, I lost all my hair, I was violently ill from the side effects of the chemotherapy, I was hospitalised many times and placed in an isolation ward.  As determined and as positive as I was, there was a moment when I thought the chemotherapy might take my life. Fortunately, with the help of the talented Professor Melita Kenealy, Professor Miles Prince and a holistic approach to my overall health, I have been in remission for almost 3 years.

Sadly, blood cancers (leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) are the third leading cause of cancer death across Australia, claiming more lives each year than breast cancer or skin cancer. However, there just isn’t the same awareness around blood cancers as there is breast cancer or skin cancer yet both these cancers can be screened for, allowing early detection. Not blood cancers.

My hope is that blood cancer diagnosis can soon be done by a single blood test and not the painful biopsy of the lymph nodes or bone marrow that I and many others have endured.  My hope is that cancer patients can be given personalised treatment that’s non-toxic and won’t lead to secondary cancers, that the physical suffering is reduced.

Snowdome’s focus is to ‘unlock’ access to new treatments by channelling philanthropic investment into funding research focussed on epigenetics, biomarkers, genomics and immunotherapy; these are all cutting edge approaches to personalised medicine.

Essentially, Snowdome’s goal is to successfully treat cancer without chemotherapy and this will be an absolute breakthrough in medicine and help so many people.

I love that I have the opportunity to show my gratitude and contribute in a very small way to the mission of the Snowdome Foundation.

Q. 3 What do you love most about being part of the Snowdome family?

A. I love the people behind the Foundation. They are a group of talented, dedicated, hardworking, passionate and inspiring individuals that are authentically working towards helping Australian blood cancer patients live longer, better lives and they are doing this by pushing boundaries to create new therapies.  They all deserve our support, respect and heartfelt thanks.