Photo credit: Weirton Daily Times
Students at St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton, West Virginia have made their mark in the battle against cancer. By participating in a Student Series program hosted by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, students were able to raise $2,006.93 and donate the proceeds to discovering a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma—three types of cancer that occur in the blood and affect thousands of people across the United States every day.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) hosts programs across thousands of schools in the United States, and reaches millions of students and their families. Leukemia and lymphoma are the most common cancers to occur in children, and fighting for the quality of life and survival of children diagnosed with blood cancer speaks strongly to both the children and parents of the children attending schools who participate in the programs.
St. Paul Catholic School and other schools that participate in one of the student programs hosted by LLS go through both a learning and growing experience as they work to raise funds for children and research for a cure. They show how simple it can be to make a joined community effort to make an impact, and the education that they receive on philanthropy and service will last them a lifetime. As people come together for a cure to cancer, everyone affected at the present, and in the future, are given a better fighting chance.
Pennies for Patients
LLS offers several programs as part of their Student Series, which focuses on character education and tailoring programs to specific grade levels. The program adopted by the students at St. Paul’s is called Pennies for Patients. It is a three-week program that challenges students to collect change and raise funds online, while also taking the time to teach them about service to the community and philanthropy in their classrooms.
The program is intended for elementary and middle school students, and LLS provides its own curriculum for teachers to use in the classroom. Teaching students about service and educating them on the importance of ethical behavior and good character is becoming a trend in education today, and LLS is a perfect fit for many schools hoping to both cover core areas of education and supplement students’ learning with societal virtues.
Lesson plans provided by LLS are integrated into a school’s existing core academic areas, covering all Common Core skills that students are expected to learn as they reach progressive grade levels. The lesson plans are well-developed, and include hands-on activities that apply educational material to the real world. It is also themed within the Pennies for Patients program, helping to keep a consistent attitude of service and philanthropy throughout the life of the program.
Other LLS Student Series programs include Collect for Cures and Students of the Year, which are aimed at high school students. These programs are oriented around leadership development and philanthropy, giving highly motivated high school students the opportunity to extend their skill sets into directing donations and taking the lead on fundraising efforts. As with Pennies for Patients, these programs are integrated into students’ core classrooms.
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
One of the essential tenants that LLS teaches students about philanthropy and service is its banner motto: someday is today. The society prides itself on being one of the foremost organizations supporting the front line of ending all cancers. To date, the society has raised and donated over $1 billion to both research and patient groups across the nation. LLS believes in three foundational aspects of support when fighting cancer: research, patient advocacy, and patient support.
Louis J. DeGennaro, PhD serves as President of LLS and CEO. He takes an active role in directing funds to biotechnology groups, and drives funds to unmet medical needs in order to promote both academic discovery and drug development. He states: “Through our commitment to basic and translational research and the new generation of scientists, and our role as a catalyst for collaboration among biotechnology, government, and clinical institutions, LLS is doing more than any cancer nonprofit to advance cutting-edge research and cures.”
Leukemia is the most common cancer to be diagnosed in children and young adults under the age of 20. Lymphoma is the third most common cancer to be found in children. Although the survival rates for both of these cancers is relatively high, they are still the foremost causes of cancer-related deaths in children. LLS strives to find a solution as soon as possible, as the number of cases of cancer being reported each year is still high.
Breakthroughs in blood cancer research are believed to be the key to understanding all cancers. Every new discovery in the field contributes to scientist’s understanding of the genetic makeup and behavioral tendencies of the disease. Some of these discoveries are able to save the lives of patients in even the earliest stages of development, supporting the LLS claim that someday is today. Every day that goes by carries the potential for a new breakthrough that could save families from deep, grievous loss.
Patient advocacy and resources
LLS focuses on patients in two ways: by advocating for their access to cures, and by providing free and high-quality educational materials to those directly affected. Though new medicines are being developed all the time, it is sometimes difficult for patients to access new breakthroughs, and LLS fights exclusive treatment and therapy restrictions through its dedicated Policy and Advocacy Team. Navigating the medical industry in general can be a challenge in and of itself, and can be unnecessarily burdensome on those who are already facing down a life-threatening disease.
While there are plenty of free materials and resources available to patients, much of the information on the web and circulated through hospitals is underwritten, general knowledge, or recycled information that provides a vague understanding of what cancer is and how to go about fighting it. LLS provides highly specialized educational materials, and keeps an Information Resource Center open for inquiries, offering all of these services for free. This incredible program was shown to provide individuals with $41.8 million for the fiscal year 2015.
LLS offers patient support programs that include group therapy sessions, peer-to-peer support, a one-on-one call center for support, and an online patient community that keeps individuals involved in the larger community of those either directly or indirectly affected by cancer. These programs are all run on independent donations, including some of the funds raised by schools and other organizations that choose to partner with LLS.
Changing the outcome of blood cancer
There is currently no way to screen or prevent blood cancer, although steps are being made in that direction. LLS claims that every three minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed with blood cancer, and someone dies of blood cancer every nine minutes. Even with technological breakthroughs and new treatment options, over a third of all blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after diagnosis. LLS calls for the help of all individuals to help drive its support programs and research fundraising.
In addition to the Student Series, LLS runs several programs for adult groups, businesses, and other organizations which can help donate or raise funds for the cause. If you feel that you want to help, consider joining the team by participating in a program or single event near you. All programs and events are structured with the society’s mission statement in mind: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.