The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

For Patients, for Research

by RaeAnne Marsh

LeukemiaOne 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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