A friend’s father had surgery to remove a tumor on Tuesday. One of Mister Man’s good friend’s younger brothers has been batting leukemia since he was a toddler. We’ve had two neighbors die of cancer in the past two years – both relatively young moms with children in school. It’s shocking to me how so many cancers affect so many people I know in so many stages of life.
When those diagnoses come, it’s devastating for the families, not just the immediate family but everyone surrounding them. Your life and its focus suddenly shifts, and so often, it’s a paralyzing change. There’s hope that one day it won’t be like this. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer, and their goal is to be part of the force driving that change.
They’ve invested almost one billion dollars since 1954 in an effort to further their mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma while simultaneously improving the quality of life for both patients and their families. The fund research around the world, as well as providing free information and support service to those in need.
The good news is that they are making a difference. In 1964, a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia was 3%. That’s the single most common childhood leukemia, and today that survival rate has climbed to about 90%. There is hope, and LLS wants to be a part of it. This year alone, they’re supporting more than 300 research projects focused on discovering lifesaving therapies for blood cancer patients.
And that takes money. A lot of it. LLS has Team in Training, the world’s largest and most successful charity sports endurance training program. This is its 25th anniversary of the program that has trained more than 570,000 people and helped LLS fund more than $875 million in research.
The program runs throughout the year with more than 200 accredited national and local events both in the States and abroad. They range from marathons and half marathons to cycling events, triathalons, and more. When you commit to a particular event, you agree to a fundraising minimum for LLS, and they provide the certified training to help you complete your race, making your training for it that much easier. The program will fit both those new to exercise and training and those with significant experience running marathons.
Personally, I love that this is racing with a purpose. It’s a win for all involved. When you have someone who is affected by a disease like leukemia or lymphoma, it’s a shock. You feel utterly helpless, as I have done so often with so many people that I know or have heard about (including an amazing football player on our team when I was in college who had Hodgkin’s, had to miss a season and came back to play competitive D1 football). Finding a way to channel the nervous energy that appears and knowing that you’re making a difference, not just to one person but to so many who are dealt this joker of a hand, is empowering. It’s meaningful. And it’s doing something to really create a change that lasts.
There are several races near me in Chicago, from the Chicago half marathon to the Blood, Sweat, & Tears Charity Bike Ride, and that’s just one location. Signing up, getting others to support me and in turn support finding cures for blood cancers like these is putting more than just lip service to the sympathy you share and the helplessness you feel. It is inspiring.
A friend has a local 5K that her family created in memory of her brother who passed away from Leukemia. It’s in its third year and started out small, but each year, more of us hear the story of her brother and the difference their foundation is making. And more of us sign up to participate and raise money. The same holds true for Team in Training. Feeling lost? What better way to ground yourself than to sign up, not by yourself but with someone else. Create not just a team to help make a difference in the survival rates of these blood cancers but a support system for yourself and others in your own personal situation and diagnosis.
Now that’s making a difference.
Sounds amazing, right? To get you kick started, I am also giving away a fun Team In Training gift bag for you to give away to one of your lucky readers. The bag includes a shirt, pens, mug, sunscreen and other goodies. Just enter via the Rafflecopter form below.