I met a wonderful group of people who introduced me to another wonderful group of people! It was the nurse practitioner (and fellow blogger, Katherine Mitchell) and social worker, Carol H., at our office who asked if I would be interested in co-facilitating a monthly support group.
Being part of this large oncology practice, I assumed it would be a breast cancer support group. Nope! It was the Kentucky and Southern Indiana’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) support group. Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, as well as improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
Of course, I agreed! I have been trained as a facilitator and did so for the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky for years. However, what caught me by surprise was the level of comfort and humor this group had. About 12 or so individuals (many of them bringing their loved one or spouse) had an absolute zest for sharing and life. This group has been together for many years and here they sat, in front of me, chatting as if they were all family members. It was amazing the level of understanding and support that one can share to another who is going through something for the first time.
This led me to want to share through this blog that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is celebrating September as Blood Cancer Awareness Month. This organization has been in existence for over 60 years, being founded in 1949, and to date has invested over $875 million dollars into research and activities to fight blood cancers and find better therapies and cures. Last year alone, over $68 million dollars were allocated to research. And their past support of research led to some amazing and ground-breaking discoveries, such as targeted therapies known as Rituxan, Gleevac, and Velcade.
A major component of the campaign is to encourage giving -- either online or via text to donate. You can learn more at their Awareness Month donation page.
It is important to note that 100 percent of their expenses are activities that support research, advocacy, community service, patient services, and fundraising. Only 7.7 percent is allocated to management and general services.
The efforts of the LLS have helped survival rates double, triple, or quadruple in some cases. This is vital knowing that over 1 million people in the United States alone are fighting some form of blood cancer, also known as the third leading cause of cancer death.
In children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the survival rates have risen from 3 percent to almost 90 percent within the past 40 years. In adults with Hodgkin's lymphoma, the survival rate has doubled to over 86 percent in this same time period. Furthermore, myeloma patients have survival rates that have more than tripled in just the past decade alone.
Not only does LLS provide funds through generous individual and organizational donations, but they also provide many patient service programs, such as education and family support groups, free patient education workshops, and a peer-to-peer support program that matches newly diagnosed patients with trained volunteer survivors.
For children, there is a program for cancer survivors to help them transition back to school. And, most impressive (which I have seen in action firsthand with some of my patients) is a financial assistance program to assist those in financial need, as well as an insurance co-pay assistance program.
Our chapter's representative provides a free in-service to any organization that wants to know more about what LLS has to offer (which I am sure is an option in any location throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada).
To learn more about LLS, view the Participate page to see what events and activities are available in your zip code. I bet you will never look at a drop of blood the same again.
Have you heard about this organization or been involved in any way? If so, I would love to hear about it!