This month, we are excited to feature The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada as our charity spotlight. In recognition of World Cancer Day, which takes place on February 4, 2020, we want to share more about what this amazing organization does, and how you can help.
The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) is to cure blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, while improving the quality of lives of those experiencing blood cancers and their families. With a focus on research, services, and advocacy, LLSC has been committed to achieving their mission since 1955.
In 2018, LLSC invested almost $7.4 million in the creation of programs and delivery of services to improve the lives of Canadians impacted by blood cancers from coast to coast. This investment included a commitment of over $4.2 million in innovative, life-changing research to accelerate new cancer treatments, therapies, and cures. $3.6 million was used towards funding patient services, programs and education across Canada. There is also no charge to patients, caregivers, or healthcare professionals for any of the programs or materials provided.
We had the pleasure of talking with Stephanie Wilson, Fund Development Lead for Northern Alberta. She is responsible for all fundraising North of Red Deer. As one person amongst approximately 65 staff, the team works in a variety of positions from fundraising and marketing to patient support to accounting and administration: all serving the blood cancer community.
There are approximately 155,000 Canadians living with, or in remission from, a blood cancer.
Did you know that every 24 minutes, a Canadian will be newly diagnosed with blood cancer? Survival rates have quadrupled for some of the 136 sub types of blood cancers thanks to the LLSC’s relentless focus on research. However, there is still work to be done! While you may not directly know someone who has had leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, you most certainly have familiarity with cancer in some way.
Since blood is present in all tissues, advancement in blood cancer research has the wonderful effect of creating breakthroughs in other types of cancer such as bone, prostate, brain, breast and ovarian cancers as well as diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Chemotherapy was first developed in the treatment of blood cancers, and over the last 20 years 40% of all new approved cancer drugs were first approved to treat blood cancers!
The biggest impact Covid-19 had on the organization was to its signature event, Light The Night. Prior to the pandemic, the walk took place at night where participants walk with illuminated coloured lanterns. Each colour represents the participants experience with blood cancer. Red lanterns are held by supporters of blood cancer patients, white lanterns are held by patients and survivors of blood cancer, and gold lanterns are held by those participating in memory of a loved one lost to blood cancer.
“You can imagine this has traditionally been a very powerful experience to be in a crowd of 1,000 people at Hawrelak Park, surrounded by strangers, yet knowing a bit about their experiences just from their lantern colour.” Wilson told me. In the wake of the Pandemic, the event was hosted online in 2020 and 2021. “I am so proud of our organization that we did not just wait for COVID-19 to pass by and postpone Light The Night. This event is too important to our participants. It is Canada’s night to pay tribute, bring hope and celebrate the blood cancer community! More than 35,000 Canadians participate in Light The Night, raising money for research and community programs to improve the lives of people affected by blood cancers. It’s a night our constituents anticipate and circle on their calendars every year.” Wilson said.
Wilson is grateful to the amazing donors, who helped them exceed their goal of $200,000 for Edmonton Light the Night 2021. With the help of individual walkers, sponsors, donors, teams of family and friends, colleagues, retail partners and schoolmates, the event raised over $225,000. LLSC is thankful to the community whose generosity enables the continuation of critical blood cancer research and free support services for patients and their families.
LLSC is already planning for Light The Night Edmonton 2022, which is currently scheduled for September 24. You can help by forming a team of friends, family, co-workers or classmates and fundraising! If you’d like to learn more about getting involved, please contact Stephanie at (587) 926- 2559 or [email protected]
Investing in blood cancer research is an investment in health, because breakthroughs lead to advancements in many other fields of cancer research too!
The organization has also re-launched its signature peer support program, First Connection. Patients living with a blood cancer may feel alone and even misunderstood by their family and friends. When this happens, it can be unsettling and isolating. LLSC can help connect blood cancer patients with someone who has been through a similar cancer diagnosis. If you, or a loved one, has been diagnosed with a blood cancer, there is support. For more information on the First Connection peer support program, please click here.
We want to thank Stephanie and the LLSC for the incredible research, support, and breakthroughs they work tirelessly to achieve. Unfortunately, for far too many, we have been impacted in some way by cancer. With the work of incredible organizations like the LLSC, we hope one day a cure will be discovered.
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