Take notice of blood cancer awareness

Published 12:05am Thursday, September 19, 2013

Did you know that September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month?

Most people are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but have no idea that blood cancers has an awareness month. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsors Blood Cancer Awareness Month to advocate for patients and help create awareness of blood cancers and the urgent need to fund research for lifesaving therapies. Because it is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I would like to share some information that you may not know. As a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Mississippi/Louisiana Chapter, I would like to share a few facts about LLS and their commitment to find a cure for blood cancers.

Do you know that blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer deaths? It comes in behind lung cancer and then colorectal cancer. What surprises people is that breast cancer follows in the fourth position for cancer deaths.

The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Not Someday. Someday is Today! The goal for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is to have a world without blood cancers. Since there is no means for screening for blood cancers, the focus is on cures. Blood cancers include all the leukemias, lymphomas, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and myeloproliferative disorders.

LLS offers support for patients and their family members. The LLS Co-pay assistance program can offer support for prescription drug co-pays and assistance with health insurance premiums. They also offer the Information Resource Center with specialists to help connect patients with clinical trials. They can also receive up-to-date information about their diagnosis and treatment options. Other support offered is the First Connect program, which puts newly diagnosed patients in touch with patients who have had treatment to discuss the road ahead. LLS, over the past 60 years, has invested more than $1 billion to advance therapies for blood cancer.

So how is all this funded? LLS has many fundraisers during the year. Fundraisers include Light the Night Walk, Team in Training, Leukemia Cup Regatta, The Man/Woman of the Year Campaign and Pennies for Patients where school children can get involved by collecting spare change and bringing it to school. In our area, Home Hardware stores are selling paper balloons in support of Light the Night Walk. I would like to ask that you support our local Home Hardware stores in the area and if they ask you to buy a balloon, please consider all the things LLS will do with the money that is raised. It is estimated that Light the Night will raise more than $500,000. Local area schools participating in the Pennies for Patients include Natchez High, Vidalia High and Ferriday Lower Elementary.

It is estimated that Light the Night Walk will raise more than $500,000. Last year alone, the MS/LA Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was able to give more than $1 million back to research and local patient services through fundraising alone.

During my many years as an oncology nurse (21 years), I have personally found The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to truly support patients with blood cancers. They offer financial support to many patients and offer education to patients to help them understand their disease and treatment. I have been a volunteer for more than two years in many roles. At this time I am co-chair for the Patient Services Committee. I am also an advocate, helping the office of public policy reach our legislators to make them aware of issues that affect their constituents and ask for change on Capitol Hill, and am an ambassador by sharing information with oncology clinics. I have also recently joined the Board of Trustees for the MS/LA Chapter of LLS. I want the Miss-Lou area to be aware of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society MS/LA Chapter and the services they offer. Their priority is to improve the lives of those diagnosed with blood cancers and to fund research to find a cure for blood cancers.

If you or someone you know has a blood cancer, please contact The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society MS/LA Chapter at 504-837-0945 or 888-290-0945. Locally, if you would like additional information about anything in this article, please contact me at 318-386-5085 or Phyllis Beach at 601-446-8894.

 

Cindy Paul is a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Mississippi/Louisiana Chapter and a registered nurse.