September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and if you know me, you know that I have a long history supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It began in 2000, when my mother-in-law (my ex-husband’s mother) was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was then that I began raising funds, and since that time I have raised over $37,000 for LLS working with Team in Training.
So when I was asked if I would like an interview with Louise J. DeGennaro, Ph.D. the president and chief executive officer of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I jumped at the offer. During this interview I was also able to speak with Jessica Melore, who is not only a two-time survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but also a survivor of a massive heart attack at age 16 followed by a leg amputation. This woman is true an inspiration and continues to work today as an LLS ambassador.Most people do not realize that blood cancers are the third largest cancer killer. My interview with Dr. DeGennaro and Ms. Melore was an informational interview to learn more about what is currently happening with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I am happy to report that they continue to make great strides in helping patients in a number of different ways.
I was excited to learn the following:Not only dos LLS support ongoing research and patient services, it also has a third prong to their mission, and that is to affect policy and advocacy. As an example there is a disparity in how insurance companies reimburse patients for chemotherapy treatments; it makes a difference in how a patient receives their chemo. If you receive oral chemo most states treat that as a prescription, and if you receive IV chemo it is treated as a medical procedure. Both are targeted treatments, but it is easier and more cost effective for a patient to take oral chemo when possible. Unfortunately because of insurance laws it is often much more expensive (out of pocket expense) for a patient to take oral chemo. LLS has worked to bring equality in 33 states so that chemo, whether IV or oral, are both covered as a medical benefit.I was also learned that LLS took the lead in first ever-targeted therapies in 2001 with CML. A targeted therapy is a treatment that attacks the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or environment that supports the cancer’s growth. Since that time LLS has made advancement in immunotherapy. This is when patients’ own immune system is used to fight the cancer. They are making great strides!But even with all of this good news….
Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma). More than 1.1 million Americans are living with, or in remission from, these diseases. Certain forms of these diseases are the most common types of cancer in children and adolescents younger than 20 years. Almost 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with these cancers this year. There are few, if any means of preventing or early screening for these cancers.
About one third of patients with a blood cancer still do not survive even five years after their diagnosis, which is why more funding is needed to bring better therapies to patients, andfaster.
And that is the bad news.
I have always felt very confident in LLS and the integrity they bring to spending my hard earned fundraised dollars. Raising $37,000 was no easy task. Those dollars represent many, many fundraisers; baking cookies, hosting dinners, letter campaigns, Karaoke for a Cure, and movie nights to name just a few of my endeavors.
Making progress takes money. As Blood Cancer Awareness Month LLS is striving to raise $300,000 in 30 days. I am here to remind everyone that while breakthrough therapies are saving lives, work still needs to be done to find cures – not someday, but today.
My Interview with Dr. DeGenarro and Jessica Melore
Every dollar helps bring life saving treatments.