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May 20, 2004 DAY #205


Here is today's installment!

The Human Costs

The cost of Leukemia and other blood cancers in human terms is staggering. Right now, in the United States, there are over 670,000 people who have been diagnosed with a blood cancer. Leukemia causes more child deaths than any other disease related cause. Every 5 minutes, someone is newly diagnosed with a blood cancer in the US. Someone dies of a blood cancer every 9 minutes. Letís make this a little more personal. I have a friend at work who has a friend whose mother was just diagnosed with Lymphoma. I have another friend at work who had Lymphoma herself. Iíve met another lady at work whose granddaughter is getting a stem cell transplant for Leukemia. She is at about day 21 right now. I have a cousin whose wife has chronic Leukemia. I have another friend who had CML, but got over it with the help of Gleevec. There was a man at work whose daughter had Leukemia and couldnít find a matched donor. That was just as I was admitted to the hospital. I donít know what happened to that little girl. I knew most of these people before I had the disease! I have been in the hospital with children who were still in isolation 90 days after their transplants. Imagine if you can what it must be like to be a 6 or 7 year old and have to spend all summer in an isolation room. Anyone who comes in must be gloved and gowned to prevent any contact with the child. I have seen it, and I can hardly imagine what it must be like! Who do you know? Could you be next? Your child? Can you imagine having your child succomb to one of these diseases. How about if you perish leaving a family of small children? If I have a relapse my chances of survival drop to something like 5%. This is personal. Lives are touched and destroyed every day around us.

What Can You Do?

When I got sick, many people wrote to offer support, asking what they could do. I didnít have any answer to that question at the time, but I have an answer now. Help increase my odds of survival. Help increase the odds for everyone. Help support research efforts to cure these diseases. Register with the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Let me talk a little bit about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. First, the Society is part of the Combined Federal Campaign. Consider designating it as your choice! Last year the Society contributed over 40 million dollars to blood cancer research. Since their inception in 1949, they have contributed over 360 million dollars! Without their help, treatments like Gleevec and stem cell transplants would not be available today. Thousands of lives are being saved every year. I am participating in several studies, which are probably funded at least in part by the Society. 75% of every dollar raised by the Society goes to research or patients to support treatment. Only 8% goes to staffing. The remainder is fuel for more fundraising efforts. Here in the San Diego/Hawaii chapter alone, they will be spending almost $45,000 just to help patients pay for their treatments!

I know you all probably have your own favorite charities, but maybe you would be willing to help me with this one. It could save my life. Maybe the Society already has, and I just need to pay them back! What can you do?

- Tell others about the Society. Spread the word. You may be helping to save a life.

- Support my team, or any team in the Light the Night Walk! All donations are welcome!

- Join a Light the Night Walk team! All comers are welcome on my team! My team is called Team Mzima. You can sign up on the web for my team by clicking on the Light the Night link on my web site. Just be sure to select my team when you sign up!

- Support me in the Light the Night Walk! I have a personal goal to raise $1,000.00. If everyone who got this email directly from me gave only $10.00, I would have almost $900.00! I know these updates go to lots of other people too! Can you give $20? More? Any contribution could make a big difference.

- Did you ever want to run a marathon or do a triathlon? The Society has the largest endurance training program in the world, called Team in Training. They will provide everything you need, from equipment to travel to motivation!

- Volunteer at your local chapter.

- Put up a poster where you work or play or study. I will give you all you want!

- Sell paper balloons in your clubs, schools, churches and workplaces.

- Register with the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Please. Do it for me. Do it for my friend John. Do it for your aunt, or cousin or brother or grandmother or son or friend. You pick the relationship! I canít cover them all here. Just do it!

Tomorrow, look for detailed information on how you can join me in finding a cure for blood cancers.


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