Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, currently affects over 700,000 Americans who are living with or in remission from the disease. Statistics show that every seven minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with the condition, which amounts to approximately 80,000 people per year.
The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) strives to help the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the disease by funding new research initiatives and raising public awareness of lymphoma. The Foundation actively supports those impacted by lymphoma throughout the year, culminating in September with their Light it Up night to raise awareness.
Origins of the LRF
The Lymphoma Research Foundation was founded in 2001 when two organizations, the Cure for Lymphoma Foundation and the Lymphoma Research Foundation of America, merged. Both of the Foundations were started by people who had personally experienced a lymphoma diagnosis and battle, and wanted to use their experiences to improve conditions for future lymphoma fighters.
What Does the LRF Do?
Not only does the LRF fund research initiatives related to lymphoma, but they provide programs and services to the lymphoma community including support networks, helplines, education forums, and public policy and advocacy work. They also provide patients with clinical trial information, which is a huge step towards getting new treatments approved by the FDA.
The LRF also created the first lymphoma-specific mobile app, Focus on Lymphoma. The app is an excellent tool for both patients and caregivers to access information specific to the subtype of lymphoma a patient is dealing with so that they can better manage the diagnosis and treatment. The app provides users with information, tracking tools, and resources to connect them with support and community programs.
Finding a Cure for Lymphoma
The LRF’s goal in funding research is to help find a cure for lymphoma, and they have grants dedicated to researching all of the many lymphoma subtypes. They have multiple Young Investigator Grants dedicated to training researchers early in their career for lymphoma research, helping establish the next generation of scientists working towards a cure.
They also have grants that go to senior researchers for the purpose of studying specific subtypes of lymphoma and/or patient populations. While the ultimate goal of the research is to find a cure, these grants also fund studies examining the origin of the disease and treatment options. All of these focus areas have the potential to alter the lives for the hundreds of thousands of people living with lymphoma today.
Throughout the year, the LRF organizes many events to raise funds and awareness for lymphoma. They divide these into “active events,” and “ticketed events.” Since 2003, the Active Lifestyle Events have earned over $20 million in funds towards the LRF’s initiatives! The majority of the events are walks (or walk/runs) and bike rides. The walks are, of course, open for all, and people of all different physical abilities can get involved with these events and be part of a great cause.
The non-activity focused, or ticketed events, occur throughout the year. These events are things such as dinners, wine tastings, and galas.
Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Another huge event that the LRF plays a role in is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. The LRF’s advocacy team greatly helped the effort to get September recognized as Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) by congress in 2010. While the LRF works towards its goals year-round, the designation provides extra chances in the media to raise public awareness and get the general public interested in lymphoma, and helping those affected by it.
The peak of Blood Cancer Awareness Month is World Lymphoma Awareness Day, which falls on September 15. Though a huge part of BCAM, World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD) was actually established in 2004 by the Lymphoma Coalition before BCAM was officially recognized by congress.
Light it Red for Lymphoma
The main event of BCAM is the Light it Red for Lymphoma night, which coincides with WLAD on September 15. Though not every participating building or landmark will light up exactly on the 15th (some will be lit up in the days following WLAD), the exact date does not at all impact the meaning behind the event. The LRF started Light it Red in 2011 with the purpose of increasing awareness of lymphoma and reaching out to those living with or in remission from lymphoma. This year, over 100 buildings worldwide will be lit up on September 15 in honor of those affected by lymphoma. This is a huge jump from the 2015 event, when roughly 50 participants lit up their buildings in honor of lymphoma awareness. Some of the landmarks participating in this year’s Light it Red event include 4 Times Square in New York City, TD Garden in Boston, and international buildings such as the Bell Tower in Perth, Australia and Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada.
This year’s event is also the first time that the LRF has partnered with the journal Annals of Lymphoma, an international peer-reviewed open access journal. Anyone who’s ever tried to read a piece of medical literature only to see the steep price tag to access the full transcript understands how big of a deal it is that this journal is open-access for all to read. Efforts such as this play a huge role in increasing the public’s education about lymphoma.
In addition to the increased participation in this year’s Light it Up event, the Foundation is taking extra steps to raise both awareness and funds during Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Some of these initiatives are patient education events, while others are active lifestyle events such as the Annual Lymphoma Research Ride on September 24 and the 2017 Annual Gala in New York on September 27.
How to Get Involved
If you don’t live within proximity of the over 100 participating landmarks (and even if you do), there’s other ways that you can get involved with Light it Red night and the entire Blood Cancer Awareness Month. You can be a part of the effort to raise awareness in your own community by wearing red on World Lymphoma Awareness Day, and posting about WLAD on social media.
For business interested in financially supporting Light it Up, you can contact the Foundation about purchasing Team LRF lapel pins. All proceeds of the pins will go towards the Foundation. And, individuals and businesses alike can get involved and have a great time by participating in one of the Foundation’s many active or ticketed events.
Beyond Light it Up, you can get involved with the LRF and help with their goals by becoming an advocate with the LRF. There’s many ways you can do this, such as working with your local lawmakers, writing letters to congress, participating in meetings with members of congress, and many more. On a smaller scale, it’s always useful to continue to educate yourself about the disease with resources such as Annals of Lymphoma so that you can help spread awareness to friends and family.
If you or someone you know is battling lymphoma, there’s many resources you can use for support. The Lymphoma Coalition has a directory of organizations throughout the world that can help patients receive emotional support and necessary care, and the LRF has resources to connect you with support and education programs. And for anyone who just needs a little bit of extra hope, look for the red on September 15 and remember you’re not alone.
http://www.lymphoma.org/site/pp.asp?c=bkLTKaOQLmK8E&b=6296735 (and affiliated pages)