Elk Grove Village Resident to be Honored at Glenview Light The Night Walk Event

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In November 1994, Sherry Allen woke up to severe pain in her right leg. She assumed it was a pinched nerve and scheduled a regular visit to her doctor for the next day.  During her visit, Sherry had an MRI, which showed a tissue mass in her lower back pressing on a nerve.  Sherry was instructed to contact a neurologist for a biopsy. During her pre-op blood work, it was discovered that Sherry’s white blood cell count was low and her platelets were high.  She immediately had a bone marrow biopsy and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Sherry felt overwhelmed and afraid.  Despite those feelings she she began seven days of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, daily blood draws, and more bone marrow biopsies.  Sherry suffered from nausea and experienced hair loss. Luckily, after her first round of treatment, she went into remission and continued her treatments on an outpatient basis.

“I returned to work and to a normal life…or so I thought.”

Less than a year later, Sherry’s cancer returned. She was fighting a terrible cold that wouldn’t go away and contacted her doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Blood tests confirmed that Sherry’s white blood cell count was low and her leukemia had returned. Chemotherapy was no longer an option for treatment, and Sherry would need a bone marrow transplant. After only a few months on the bone marrow registry, a match was found. On January 9, 1997, Sherry underwent a life-changing bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota. She spent four months in the hospital, including 45 days in isolation until she was able to return home in April of that year.

LTN walk

This year marks 17 years of being cancer free for Sherry. She celebrates her survivorship by participating in the Glenview Light The Night Walk as an individual walker. She is also a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Steering Committee.

 “The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provided my family and I the support we needed to get through this emotional and difficult period. I am so thankful to LLS for all they do and now I walk each year to raise money so that one day we will live in a world without cancer.”

The Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual fundraising walk to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling blood cancers. Thousands of participants raise funds for vital, life-saving research and patient services and, on this special night, they carry illuminated lanterns—white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to a blood cancer— to show the support of a caring community. Last year, participants raised nearly $2 million in Greater Illinois alone and more than $58 million nationwide.

The Light The Night Walk will be held Sunday, October 19 in Glenview at Gallery Park. The festivities will start at 4:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 6:00 p.m. For more information, questions or concerns please visit www.lightthenight.org/il or call (312)-651-7354.

 

 

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Future Teacher to be Honored at Rockford Light The Night

Rachael Elliott frontalRachel Elliot of Leaf River, Illinois, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivor, will be honored on Saturday, September 27 at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual Light The Night Walk in Rockford. Rachel will join thousands of other participants at locations around Northwest Indiana and Illinois to honor survivors, remember loved ones and walk in recognition of those still battling blood cancers. In 2013, Rachel was an ordinary college student taking classes and working part-time. One day she was feeling tired and stressed and fainted at work. After taking her first ambulance ride and being admitted to the hospital for the first time in her life, Rachel was diagnosed with ALL, the most common pediatric cancer. Rachel began chemotherapy and after one month was in remission. However, her battle had just begun. She felt awful from the side effects, suffering fatigue and hair loss. Through her battle with leukemia, Rachel discovered The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and learned about Light The Night. Fundraising for a cure was a welcomed distraction for Rachel, giving her a purpose and a goal.

“Fighting cancer is the hardest thing I have ever [done],” – Rachel.

In September 2013, Rachael started to see her life fall back into place. Her hair grew back, she returned to work, and most excitedly, she resumed her classes.  Rachel celebrated one year in remission in March of this year. She hopes to finish college and fulfill her dreams of becoming a K-12 teacher and traveling to teach English to non-native speakers.

Let’s Rally the Troops

BCAM14_Email_Signature

Are you ready for the challenge? Last year alone, LLS invested nearly $74 million in cutting-edge research.  During Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is reminding everyone that while breakthrough therapies are saving lives, work still needs to be done to find cures – not someday, but today.

Join us in the fight against cancer: Raise your hand and declare your support. Our goal is to raise $300,000 in 30 days. Thanks to LLS-funded research, new safe and effective treatments, once unimaginable, are saving lives today. Cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved, and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL jumped from 3 percent in 1964 to approximately 90 percent in 2014.The survival rate for myeloma patients more than tripled in the past decade.

Do more than be aware. Donate today. CEWM_Hand_wBlack_box

 

Rockford Little League Hits cancer Out of the Park

This year at Light The Night in Rockford on September 27, a group of young men will walk in honor of family members and friends that they have made along their K Cancer Baseball journey.  K Cancer Baseball is a nonprofit organization run by Rockford teenagers in the hopes of bringing awareness to childhood cancers. The Northern Illinois 14U travel baseball team is more than just a group of MLB hopefuls, they are mature and civic minded young men who believe in giving back to their community. Along with raising funds for Light The Night, K Cancer Baseball will also visit children afflicted with cancer at local hospitals and deliver care packages.

Philanthropist of tomorrow. – Randal Rapier, Head Coach

Learn more about this amazing team at K Cancer Baseball.

 

Gay Couple Donates Wedding Proceeds to LLS

Steve_ScottSteven Montner, M.D.  and Scott Brown, like any other couple in love, decided to make a lifelong commitment to each other by getting married. What makes them unique is what they decided to list in their wedding registry. Steve, a Thoracic Radiologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center, was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in 2011 and following a complicated treatment plan and a bout of sepsis, he received a stem cell transplant in 2012.  Steve reached out to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and received support through our First Connection program. He also received Spanish blood cancer literature to help his non-English speaking family and friends to better understand his disease. Scott, a high school science teacher, had a nephew diagnosed with leukemia, who also had a complicated treatment plan, but survived and is in remission.

As they made their wedding plans, they decided to give their guests the option to donate to LLS in honor of their battles with blood cancer. By the time their wedding arrived on July 19, Steve and Scott had reached their target goal of $5000.

This year will mark Steve and Scott’s third Light The Night Walk event. “The event itself is quite touching,” says Steve. “We are grateful that we can be a part of it.”

Light the Night is a two-mile, non-competitive event. In communities throughout the country, participants carry illuminated lanterns while they walk – white for survivors, red for supporters and gold to remember those lost to a blood cancer. Participants join with their family, friends and co-workers to raise funds for LLS in advance of the Walk.

Join Steve, Scott and thousands around Chicago and Northwest Indiana as they walk in honor and memory of a loved one. Register today.

LLS Volunteer Goes the Extra Mile

Courtesy of Rob Kuehnle

Courtesy of Rob Kuehnle

In 2011, local Edgebrook Glen resident, Patrick Jessee, heard the words that no one wants to hear.  “It’s cancer.”  After two months of abdominal and back pain, he began a series of tests to determine what was happening.   Finally his illness had a name: lymphoma.  In fact, it was a rare form of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that had occurred in his body and spread throughout his abdomen.  Prior to that, Patrick had been a firefighter/paramedic for the Chicago Fire Department since 2000.  He had always been the healthcare provider, never the patient.

Since his treatment ended, Patrick has been able to return to work with the Chicago Fire Department without any restrictions and has resumed normal life activities including travel and participating in numerous extreme sporting events.

I have returned to a better life than what I had before my cancer.  I have been able to thrive, not just survive, since my treatment. – Patrick Jessee

Patrick became involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as a patient advocate, speaking to legislators downstate in Springfield about the need for better laws regarding insurance coverage for treatment of cancer.  He also became a peer support provider, sharing his experience with others and giving them “tips and tricks” to help them during their own treatment, knowing fully that if his experience wasn’t shared with others, then it was a lost experience.

Patrick decided to go a step further and was nominated as a candidate for the 2014 Man Woman of the Year campaign. He held 11 events raising more than $65,000 to provide better treatments for blood cancers.  Right now Patrick is preparing for this year’s Light The Night Walk  with his team Healing Through Hazmat. He will be hosting an Indiana Jones movie marathon at Hollywood Boulevard in Woodridge, Il on September 20 beginning at noon.

Volunteers can be involved in a variety of ways.

Patrick believes that service can come in many forms. Volunteering with LLS can occur in our office, with one of our campaigns —Team In Training, Man & Woman of the Year, Light The Night, Leukemia Cup Regatta, and School & Youth—, with our Advocacy group locally or in Springfield, and with our Patient Access and Education team.

If you would like to get involved with LLS as a volunteer, visit our website or sign up online.

 

Lymphoma Survivor Uses Chocolate to Raise Awareness

Heather_Veruca During her sophomore year at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Heather Johnston was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  Heather returned to Chicago to be with family during her treatment at Rush, juggling class, chemo and support group meetings for the next two years.  Inspired by the amazing and compassionate care she received, Heather abandoned her Fine Arts studies to focus on medicine.  She graduated from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and became a Pediatrician and faculty member at The University of Chicago.

If this were the entire story, it would be inspiring enough, but there is more.  Heather felt unfulfilled in Pediatrics due to the barriers that existed between herself and her patients.  She craved a more direct connection, and a happier life.  On a break from work, Heather enrolled in a chocolate course at The French Pastry School to reconnect with her Fine Arts roots and indulge her creative (and chocolate-loving) side, and discovered an entirely different way to provide comfort, and to heal the spirit, if not the body.  Inspired once again, Heather made yet another life change.  She incorporated Veruca Chocolates in June 2011 and has been melting hearts, filling bellies and creating joy ever since.

KeyLime_largeIn honor of Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, Chicago-based boutique chocolate company, Veruca Chocolates, will be selling a Limited Edition bonbon collection with proceeds benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS), Illinois Chapter.  Based on a social media contest allowing fans to submit their own “dream flavor” suggestions, the flavor for this year will be Key Lime Pie, combining a key lime ganache with a graham crust in a 64% dark chocolate shell.  The collection will be available during the month of September in 4pc and 9pc gift boxes online or at the company’s retail location, 2409 N Western Ave. in Chicago.  More than a fundraising effort, this collection represents the mission of Veruca’s owner, Heather Johnston, to give back to this organization that provided comfort and support during her own battle with lymphoma as a young adult in 1990.