Dive in deep!

Dive?  What dive?  This isn’t swimming, this is running/walking.  Are you nuts?


No, I’m not…well maybe just a little.  This week’s mission moment contains a challenge and a confession.  First, the confession.  I AM A READER.  OK, a voracious reader…to the tune of roughly 200 books per year.  Bill used to say there was nothing more frightening than me without something to read.  Probably very true!  That said I read primarily fiction, if I want history or grim facts I can just turn on the evening news and get depressed, books are for escapist hedonism. Non fiction, biographies, actual history books?  Please just shoot me, it would be less painful.

So imagine my surprise when I came across a book that combined all three of those things and I fell head over heals in love with it.  What book could do that?  What BOOK should be a mission moment?  Only one…

The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

By Siddartha Mukherjee

Stop cringing and rolling your eyes! I promise the book is worth not only every penny but every second you will spend reading it.  I bought it shortly after its release in 2010 fully expecting it to be something I trudged through a few pages at a time for months.  Instead I found myself riveted and staying awake until my eyes just couldn’t stay open a moment longer because I had to keep reading. One of the first quotes in the book literally took my breath away and began a subtle shift in my perspective of just what it is we do each time we commit ourselves to raising funds for the LLS.

“In 2010, about six hundred thousand Americans, and more than 7 million humans around the world, will die of cancer.  In the United States, one in three women and one in two men will develop cancer in their lifetime.  A quarter of all American deaths, and about 15% of all deaths worldwide, will be attributed to cancer.  In some nations, cancer will surpass heart disease to become the most common cause of death.”

One in three? One in two? All you have to do to take a quick look around where ever you happen to be at this moment to have that statistic really hit your heart. But we are just fighting for cures for blood cancer, right?  WRONG!  It’s easy to think that though.  We see some of the research the LLS has supported being used to fight other kinds of cancer frequently.  I for one never thought much about it. What I didn’t understand until I read this book was just how intimately connected ALL cancer is to blood cancers.

Everything we know as modern chemotherapy grew from the very first experiments on blood cancers.  Did you know that?  I used to hesitate to ask for donations to the LLS from people I knew had faced other cancers.  Not any more more.  Thanks to this book I can explain in far more meaningful ways why EVERYONE should be supporting the LLS mission. The true quest for a cure begins right here, with blood cancers.  The slogans we see “Someday is Today” and “Cancer Ends With Me” don’t say we’ve cured blood cancer, the say CANCER period.  I love that!

WARNING: Do not start this book at bedtime!

WARNING: Do not start this book at bedtime!

So my challenge to you is this to learn just how vital to the goal you are, how connected those miles you do and dollars you raise are to an entire world of patients, doctors, researchers. Find a copy of the book, at the library, a friend’s bookshelf, a used bookstore, anywhere and commit to reading it before this season is over.  You won’t regret it…in fact I bet it will fuel your miles for some time to come.



The Long Road

Often when we think of cancer, whether its a blood cancer or some other type, what’s called to mind is immediacy.  The sudden battle for the life of the person diagnosed.  We tend to view cancer as a short term problem, chemo, radiation, surgery, chaos for a few months or a year, then if all goes well back to life as usual.  But there is another side to cancer, living with it…

John Scoblic, CLL (with Beamer)

John Scoblic, CLL (with Beamer)

There are many types of blood cancers that are so slow growing that doctors opt to just watch them rather than treat.  Others are treated very simply, others require more aggressive treatments.  But for all of these patients, like my friend John Scoblic, cancer is for life and one of the hopes of the LLS is to make that life the best it can possibly be.  This week I’d like to introduce you to one of those, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, roughly 15,000 people were diagnosed last year. You can read about CLL here: http://www.lls.org/#/diseaseinformation/leukemia/chroniclymphocyticleukemia/ 

Do you ever wonder exactly where the research dollars go and how big the impact might be?  We all know the search for cures is a long one, along the way there is news like this:


Need a little inspiration?

Take five!




Training Our Immune System to Fight Cancer Cells


Key development:
A research team at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia led by Carl June, MD, is developing new approaches that selectively boost a patient’s immune system to help fight cancer.

The team genetically engineered T cells and used them to help patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) achieve remissions: Two of the first three adult patients to receive the therapy remain in complete remission more than three years after their treatment, and the first pediatric patient has been in remission for more than a year.

The results are shifting expectations about how to treat patients who no longer respond to standard therapies.

How LLS helped:
LLS has invested $16 million in the work of Dr. June and colleagues over the past 15 years, and plans to invest another $5 million over the next five years to get this treatment to more patients.

Why this matters:
Dr. June and his team, and other LLS-funded investigators, are trying to accomplish what researchers have hoped to do for decades: Train our immune systems to kill cancer cells. The strategy also shows promise for other types of cancer patients.