One of few voluntary health organizations that still provide direct financial support to the people it serves, according to Executive Director Jim Brewer, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helps cancer patients pay for their drugs and also advocates for issues that include addressing the high cost of cancer drugs. “Some drugs can cost as much as $3,500 per month, out of pocket — with insurance,” Brewer says.
The Arizona chapter just finished its first year as a single-state chapter, after having been in the Desert Mountain States Chapter with parts of Nevada and Utah since 1963. Being an Arizona-only chapter, says Brewer, “allows us to focus on patients and engaging with the community for fundraising — to be part of the local community.”
The organization invests heavily in blood cancer research; there is currently no prevention and no early detection. Patient-directed services include First Connection, which pairs a newly diagnosed patient with a local peer volunteer who has been through treatment for that specific disease, and Staying Connected, which helps train school personnel as well as parents to help children coming back to a school environment while undergoing what is often two to three years of treatment.
- The Arizona chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society serves about 21,000 people; 2,000 new patients are diagnosed every year.
- Blood cancer is the No. 3 cause of cancer mortality, affecting ages from pediatric to the elderly, and Leukemia is the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths among people younger than 20.
- The organization relies on fundraising events, donor development and some grants for its revenue; it gets no government support.
- Among its many fundraising events are Team In Training, a sports training program that works with athletes of all levels to train for endurance events around the world, and School & Youth Programs such as “Pennies for Patients,” which includes a science and math curriculum “so there can be some lessons around what the kids are raising money for,” Brewer says.
- Hundreds of volunteers augment the core support staff of 14.
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