March To A Million

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Join us in helping our National Team Salesforce.com in their March To A Million this year!

In 2015 Salesforce raised an amazing $563,763 making them the #5 National Light The Night Team overall. Their team goal for 2016 is to raise $1,000,000 and if the team hits their goal, their CEO Marc Benioff, will personally match this amount making their total fundraising efforts 2 MILLION dollars which could potentially make them the #2  National Light The Night Team.

Please watch this amazing video from Salesforce.com – Click Here

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk funds  life-saving research and support for people battling cancer.  Friends, families and co-workers form fundraising teams and millions of consumers help by donating at retail outlets.  These efforts culminate in inspirational, memorable evening walks in nearly two hundred communities each fall across North America.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) funded research aims at helping all blood cancer patients live longer, healthier lives.  We will continue to support research through our  innovative and integrated funding programs, until every patient has a safe and effective  therapy.  Currently LLS:

  • Supports research programs in the U.S., Canada, and seven   other countries.
  • Provides services including family support groups, free seminars, direct patient financial aid and co-pay assistance.
  • Educates through our Information Resource Center.
  • Advocates to policy makers at all levels of government.

Come Join Us at our Light The Night Walks this year!  Register Here

 

Significant Advance for Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients

SIGNIFICANT ADVANCE FOR HODGKIN LYMPHOMA PATIENTS
By Andrea Greif | May, 2016
See original article

The Food & Drug Administration’s accelerated approval of an immunotherapy for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma who have failed other treatments is a positive development for patients who face a very poor prognosis.

While Hodgkin lymphoma is now considered one of the most curable forms of cancer – with a more than 86 percent five-year survival rate overall – those patients who relapse after treatment have a much reduced chance of survival.

FDA’s approval of nivolumab (Opdivo®), marks the first approval of this particular approach to therapy for a blood cancer. Nivolumab has previously been approved, either as a single agent or as a combination therapy, for a number of solid tumor cancers, including several types of metastatic melanoma; metastatic non-small cell lung cancer; and renal cell carcinoma.

Nivolumab is among a class of drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors. The drug targets a protein called PD1 that prevents the immune system from doing its job. By inhibiting PD1, the immune system’s “brakes” are released harnessing body’s own ability to fight the cancer.

FDA based its approval on Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials that showed favorable overall response rates for these patients – 65 percent.

LLS has supported researchers whose work has shown that inhibiting these immune checkpoint proteins is an effective approach to therapy, and is currently funding several researchers investigating PD1 and PD-L1 inhibitors for other types of lymphomas, including B-cell follicular lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.

My Story: Sheila Crowe

IMG_1168I am the proud mother of a 21 year old daughter, Brenna, that has survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 4B.

Brenna was diagnosed in May of 2013. Prior to her diagnoses we were in and out of doctors with symptoms such as, unexplained fevers, night sweats, back aches, fatigue and the worst, ITCHY. She was prescribed lotions for the itch, sleeping pills to help with the itch, antibiotics, all that never worked.

She was in her last semester of college in New York. When she came home for the summer, we went to a hematologist, 3 tubes of blood and 20 minutes later the doctor came in and told us the words you never want to hear “blood cancer” I was instantly sick to my stomach. Brenna was speechless and relieved at the same time to know she did have something wrong.

The journey began, tests, scans, and a biopsy to confirm the type of cancer it was.

The day came, Chemo was to start, 6 months, bi-weekly of ABVD. All I did was cry and wanted to take all this away from my daughter. All I could do was be there every step of the way. I would cry when her back was turned and put on a good show in front of her.

Her first treatment went well no vomiting and very little nausea, tired was about all.  After her 2nd treatment a scan was done 99.9% cancer free!!

IMG_1517Brenna did on line classes for her first semester of her senior year so that she would be able to graduate with her class. She never missed a beat, went to concerts, hung with friends and still had hair. The hair…this was the most devastating factor of cancer for her, losing her beautiful, long black thick hair. She cut 7″ off to alleviate some of the weight. By her last treatment still had some hair, it was very short  and thinner like a boy’s cut, but she had hair.

We ran into a few obstacles with the picc line she chose to have instead of a port, but it was resolved within a week.

All of a sudden the 12th treatment was here. December 19th was her last treatment. Then the last scan..100% cancer free!!!

Brenna never once felt sorry for herself nor did she ever say “Why me?” She did a journal on YouTube and so many people followed it. They would contact her and she told them her successful story and gave them hope. She did not let cancer put a hold on her life.

Brenna went back to college in January and is graduating May 23, 2014 with her class as a communications major!! I tell her all the time “Thank God I had you to go through this with I would never of been able to do it.” She started out with a positive attitude and ended treatment with a better one.

Never look back, always keep positive, millions of people kick cancer’s butt and you will too!

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-Written by Sheila Crowe. Light The Night Team Captain and proud mother of a soon to be college graduate and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 4B survivor.

How Can I Eat Healthy During Treatment?

My name is Ana and I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma almost two years ago. When I was receiving my treatments I was constantly doing research on what foods were good to prevent cancer and which ones I should avoid. Although I found that different sources gave me different responses I took notes. At my appointments I would ask my doctor: “Is there anything I should be eating or avoiding during treatment?” His answer was always the same “don’t consume uncooked meats (no sushi!) and don’t worry about supplements”, all I needed was my multivitamin.

I was told that my taste could change from some of the medicines and that some foods that I usually enjoy would become unappealing. So, while food still tasted good I should eat as much as I could. I did this especially while I would take my steroids, which killed my stomach. Luckily my taste didn’t change too much and I enjoyed eating during my treatment. But I still wanted to know what to eat and what not to eat.

While doing more research I found an article on Livestrong.com titled ‘Cancer Fighting Vegetables for Lymphoma’. I had found it! I had the answer and soon all I wanted to do was eat vegetables for Lymphoma: broccoli, greens, carrots, etc. My mom loves to cook so our meals are always fresh and home cooked. We began to read recipe books and found Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Cancer. Kris Carr was diagnosed with a very rare cancer in her lungs and liver and has used nutrition and wellness to maintain healthy. Her diet is very strict and avoids all processed foods, dairy products and sugars. I couldn’t do it all the time since I constantly craved food. But I did follow her smoothies and juicing recipes since it was the perfect way to drink fruits and vegetables every morning.

Green juices and green smoothies became a ritual and my whole family was drinking them with me. We love them! Not only do they taste good, but they helped me take my gross steroids in the mornings and would help me get nutrients and vitamins.

The LLS has a special page dedicated to food and nutrition. I remember finding a phrase that guided me through my treatment and put me at peace that I was not going to find the food that cures cancer. “No diet, food or supplement is known to prevent, cause, treat or cure blood cancers. However, eating the right foods can make a difference in your health and how you feel.”

There is no set diet during treatment because everyone’s experience is different. But what we all have in common is that we all want to feel well. Eating anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables and a balanced diet will help you feel better and can be mixed easily to make a delicious smoothie!

Here is my favorite smoothie recipe with lots of vitamins, fiber and anti-inflammatory fruits:

Serves 2

-2 cups of fresh spinach

-2 cups of water

-2 cups of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

-1 banana

You can add ice if you want and blend it all together!

-Written by Ana Hurtado, Boston Light The Night Walk walker and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor.

YOUNG ADULTS COPING WITH CANCER TOGETHER

YAC-GroupThis is my follow up post to ‘Coping with cancer as a young adult’ after attending Dana Farber’s Young Adult Cancer Conference on Saturday March 29th.

Dana Farber’s Young Adult Cancer Conference did not feel like a conference to me. It was a retreat. It was an opportunity to receive support, comfort, and to give back to other patients and survivors.

At first my boyfriend and I sat eating breakfast on our own. Although other people were sitting at our table we were all talking to ourselves, going over our schedule for the day and counting the minutes until the opening session. I started to get nervous. This was the first time that I was attending a support group. More people joined the table and suddenly we were all telling our stories. “How did you find out, you know, the news?”, asked the girl next to me. That was when I realized that it was okay to ask questions and to share stories because we all understood each other. Our conversation was interrupted when we were told the opening session was about to start.

Tara Shuman, unknowingly, continued our conversation in her talk. She told us it was normal to want to ask questions and to have questions. We came up with a list of things that young adults feel while going through cancer and the combination of responses made us all realize that although we may have had our treatments separately, we were not alone.

–          Being defined by cancer

–          Future goals changed

–          Desire to retain some or all of their life as it was before cancer

Tara started her blog by writing e-mails to her family to update them of her situation. Most of us could relate as we had also found a personal way to express ourselves: journals, blogs, facebook status, etc. She reminded us and encouraged us to share our stories as it will benefit ourselves, our loved ones and others going through similar situations.

YAC- WhiteboardAlthough the stories shared brought back some hard memories, like the feeling of being betrayed by your own body, or the idea that cancer steals from you, she concluded her talk by sharing some of the wonderful moments she had during her treatments. Tara’s final message was a great segue into my next workshop.

Claire taught us about mind, body and self-care. She gave us advice on how to manage cancer and stress for relaxation. I decided to attend this workshop because every time I have a scan my anxiety and stress reach a new level. The breathing exercises she gave us helped slow down our breathing, energize our bodies and relax our minds. However, her message, for me, went farther than meditation. Besides the meditation exercises Claire shared advice on being more positive thinkers, given that we are all wired to focus on the negative. She stressed the importance of balancing negatives and positives. “We must keep the positive in the foreground and the negative in the background”. This way we develop gratitude, optimism and become resilient to hardship. During my treatment I kept a journal and decorated the cover using words that started with H like Hodgkin’s, Hurtado, Hope and Heal. Claire brought back ‘heal’ as she gave us four final steps to manage stress. H – Have a positive experience and be grateful, E – Enrich it, enjoy it for 10 – 30 seconds and intensify the positive, A – Absorb it, L – link it and join the positive with the negative.

For lunch I headed back to my table waiting to see who would come back and who else would join. I met a fellow Northeastern University graduate and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor. I couldn’t believe how much I had in common with people who minutes before were strangers. We were all attending different workshops after lunch. However, the connecting with others did not stop there.

I decided to attend the workshop for Navigating College and Cancer and although I am about to finish my undergraduate career, I was hoping I could get some questions answered and share my experience to help others. The talk was given by Michele who gave us great advice and on how to manage college socially and academically. We discussed how important it is to create a network and share with these people what you are going or have gone through. I have a close group of friends with who I share my feelings, one or two professors who know my situation and I kept in touch with my academic advisor while away from school. Michele mentioned the importance of informing professors and advisors ahead of time to ask for extensions and help with projects. I wish I had known this last semester when during finals I had a follow up scan and, honestly, do not know what I wrote for my final essays.

A couple of us were graduating and writing cover letters for jobs or personal statements to enter graduate school. Michele had actually contacted higher education administrators with questions about how we, applicants, should handle introducing ourselves and sharing our stories. From all the quotes that Michele shared with us we all noticed the words resilience, challenges, perseverance, strength. “Telling their story through their lessons learned, obstacles overcome, or even continued challenges on an on-going basis will help us to better know them as individuals”. It was the perfect way to end an amazing event. We were all there to share our stories, but more importantly we were all there to demonstrate our courage and help others.

-Written by Ana Hurtado, Boston Light The Night Walk walker and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor.

For a great recap of the Young Adult Cancer Conference look no further than @DanaFarberYAP. Also search for #YAcancer14, the official hashtag of this year’s Young Adult Cancer Conference.

 

Who do you walk for?

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Exactly one year ago yesterday I participated in my first Light the Night walk. Earlier that morning I had received my first treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and even though it had been a long day I was ready to walk. I walked in Mason, Ohio, where I was receiving my treatments, and I knew it would be an amazing event. But my expectations were nothing compared to reality.  There were more walkers than I could have imagined. Seeing the group of family friends that was there for me inspired me to join them and walk with my white balloon.

Yesterday, without me, they were all reunited as they walked again to support the LLS. Seeing their pictures and imagining walking with them was very emotional for me.

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This year, I am back in school in Boston and will be walking later in October. This time, I will be walking with my friends from university. This time, I won’t be walking for myself but for everyone who supported me from the beginning until today.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has created such a special event through Light the Night Walk. It is so inspiring to see all the lit up balloons move towards a goal: walk to the end of cancer. I encourage every one to participate in at least one walk. You can register beforehand or on the day of the walk. The funds raised go to research and to change the lives of patients and their families. At the beginning of the walk we will all be strangers, but by the end we will all be a united support group. Let’s walk to the end of cancer. Not someday, today.

– Ana Hurtado, Boston Light The Night Walk walker and Hodgkin’s survivor

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