Leukemia Foundation

Established in Queensland in 1975, the Leukaemia Foundation is the only national organisation dedicated to the care and cure of patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. The disorders include myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferate disorders (PRV, ET, MF), waldenstroms, amyloidosis and aplastic anaemia.

Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma can develop in anyone, of any age, at any time. Often with little warning and in acute cases, may require treatment within 24 hours of diagnosis. It turns lives upside down overnight.

For more information visit the Leukemia Foundation website.

A Personal Story

Steven Secco: A son, a brother, a friend, a colleague - but mainly, our MacGyver.

For anyone who knew Steve, they would all agree that one could characterize him for his ingenuity, his kind yet cheeky nature, his strength, determination and perseverance. Everyone has their own unique story to share of their moments spent with him and it is these which have inspired us to dedicate a page on the story of the late Steven Secco as it forms a part of who we are at Flora International, the Flora family.

Steven started working part time at Flora International whilst he studied a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales. He soon gained a lot of respect due to his hard working nature and his perfectionist work practices. Whatever the problem was whether it was a pump which has broken down, burst pipes, a computer which had stopped working and a multitude of others, Steven was everyone's first point of call for help as he was always willing and would never say "no". He was literally the jack of all trades and would often surprise specialists in differing fields with his creative methods to deal with problems. Amongst his friends he earned himself the nickname MacGyver and many would agree that it's a fitting description of him.

In late August of 2005 the Flora Family was devastated to hear news that Steven was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma at the young age of 25 years old.  At the time he was given a ninety per cent chance of survival and quickly started chemotherapy. Although many urged him to take it easy and to take time off work his stubborn hard-working nature led him to continue his work in rain, hail or shine. If someone had to judge him on his work effort they would not have even considered the fact that he was a cancer patient. It was his attitude that gave us all hope and put us at ease.

Unfortunately, the strain of cancer that Steven had was just as stubborn as he was and continued to come back after numerous treatments of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, stem-cell transplants and trial drugs. Steven may have lost over 20 kg in muscle mass but his mental strength was just as strong as ever. At this stage of his life, from the age of 27 the majority of his life was beginning to be spent at the hospital. I spent a lot of time with Steven during these days and saw first-hand the amount of suffering he endured. I won't go into details but unless one were to work in a burns unit it would be difficult to imagine what he went through and according to the doctors, not even a victim of 3rd degree burns would have endured the same level of pain. Steven had a knack for surprising doctors; he amazed them with how much his body could take without giving up.

Despite all of this pain and boredom he still maintained a cheerful, cheeky and thankful attitude with everyone who dealt with him. I will never forget the day when Steven was teaching the nurse on duty how to use and fix his drip machine which was giving an error code. To finish his list of instructions he was rattling off, he said to the nurse "and then you leave the keys with me" in a very casual tone whilst trying to hide the any hint of a grin.

Even though Steven was generally hospital bound he was still heavily and actively involved in the functioning of the farm, he still received calls for advice when we had problems, he still continued work from his laptop sourcing parts and machinery required and when he felt well enough he would request that someone drive him to the farm to make quick repairs or build new equipment.

Steven came face to face with death on a few occasions as his treatment continued through 2008 but tended to surmount it and bounce back quickly. So much so that he married his long-term girlfriend on the 7th of December 2008. After returning from his honey-moon he was straight back into a heavy dose of chemo and stem-cell treatments which caused him to remain in hospital for ninety per cent of his married life due to lung infections. On the 16th of June 2009 Steven passed away at the age of 29 years mainly due to fungal pneumonia. As always many struggled to hear of the loss of such a beautiful young man yet he continues to inspire us all. Although we were unable to save the life of Steven Secco, we can only try our best to help current and future cancer patients.

As a result, we have a group of at least ten workers who give blood donations on a quarterly basis with half of it being under company time, we have hosted a morning tea for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea to raise funds for the cancer council, we have raised over $1000 for the RNS Hospital ward which Steven was treated in and over $6500 for the Leukemia Foundation. Hopefully with our continued efforts we can aid in improved support and treatment for cancer patients.

To sum it up, I think at Flora International we have managed to find the best in a difficult situation. Those who were privileged to meet and know Steven have all gained a new meaning to life, we realise that life is to be enjoyed, life is about being happy and making people happy and I think we are in the perfect business to achieve that.