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Friday, December 2, 2016

Meet Dean Smith: Over the Edge Honored Hero

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is honored to introduce you to the Dean Smith, the Honored Hero for the North Texas Chapter's newest campaign: Over the Edge.  Smith, currently in treatment for multiple myeloma, is a perfect fit for this new event -- a thrill seeking Texan!
The Texas-born stuntman Dean Smith, right, with John Wayne
making “The Alamo” in 1959.

Dean Smith is a colorful Texan and Olympic gold medal winner who spent a half century as a Hollywood stuntman and actor, appearing in ten John Wayne movies and doubling for a long list of actors as diverse as Michael Landon, Steve Martin,  Robert Redford, and Roy Rogers.  Dean Smith has taken falls from galloping horses, engaged in fistfights with Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott, and replicated one of the most famous scenes in movie history by climbing on a thundering team of horses to stop a runaway stagecoach.
Growing up he was a wishful and determined small-town boy.  He ran track for the University of Texas, set college records, won an Olympic gold medal at the 1952 Helsinki Games, and played professional football. He then spent the next 50 years as a motion picture and television stuntman. His long list of honors includes membership in the Stuntman’s Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Dean Smith currently lives on a ranch in Ivan, Texas, with his wife, Debby, and son, Finis. He is battling Multiple Myeloma.


Dean's wife tell his story in her own words:
"In January of 2005, Dean was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He lived in Graham at the time but was hospitalized in Fort Worth. After the initial diagnosis and treatment, Dean was sent home from the hospital with a PIC line in his upper arm where he was administered medicine.  He had home health nurses coming in regularly to check on him. Dean couldn’t walk and was in a wheelchair at first.  As time went on, he slowly progressed and went from the wheelchair, to the walker, to a cane, then back on his own two feet walking.  Soon he was back to riding his horse. For the next 6 years, we obsessed with his cancer numbers and we checked them every month.  They tend to go up and then back down again. Today he doesn’t seem his age although I have noticed him slowing down a bit.  We are very blessed to have good doctors and for Dean taking care of himself as a young man.  When Dean was first diagnosed the Doctors gave him 2 years to live.  Now, 11 years later he is still enjoying life.


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is going OVER THE EDGE of the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel to raise awareness and money to help create a world without blood cancers. 2017 will be the first time LLS is offering this event to a limited number of participants.
Take the challenge and rappel down the side of one of the tallest buildings in Fort Worth to help LLS raise $250,000 for the mission.

Get all of the details on our website here.
Questions?
Contact Brian Brooks
(817)288-2635

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Light The Night By The Numbers


More than 8,000 people came together in Dallas and Fort Worth in October and November to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by blood cancer in North Texas. 
The Light The Night Walk is on its way to raising more than $1.41 million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) thanks to the support of sponsors, teams, walkers, volunteers and more importantly, survivors! 
Here's a little breakdown of Light The Night by the numbers.
Number of Volunteers:
Dallas: 253
Fort Worth: 149

LLS Staff Members:
Dallas: 28
Fort Worth: 24

 
Lanterns:
3240  red 
1368  gold
360 white

T-shirts:
4835 Participant
420 Survivor
305 Volunteer

Batteries For The Lanterns:
9936
Number Of Tents:
Dallas: 44
Fort Worth: 25

Corporate Teams:
Dallas: 133
Fort Worth: 67
Friends and Family Teams
Dallas: 198
Fort Worth: 133
A huge THANK YOU to everyone involved with the Light The Night Walks this year. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#TNTBECAUSE: Meet Dana Howe

Here is our fifth in a series of posts leading up to the BMW Dallas Marathon. Today we are interviewing Dana Howe.  Dana has been involved with LLS since 2010 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Read on to hear why she is doing the Dallas Marathon.

1. What made you decide to run the BMW Dallas Marathon?

I was training for the Big Dam 100 Century ride and a staff person (Mariel) came to our training and asked if anyone would be interested in the relay.  Several of us said yes – in fact, five of us said yes.   So we formed a marathon relay team from five cyclists.  This will be my third Triple Crown and my son’s (Donnie Constantine) first Triple Crown.  I crossed the finish line with the cycling team and began training with the marathon team the following Saturday.


2. What does it mean to you that the BMW Dallas Marathon has been named a national event for Team In Training?
 I am so proud to be part of Team in Training knowing the impact they have made on the lives of so many cancer patients and their families.  The LLS staff works tirelessly to provide the best event options, fantastic coaches, and an overall amazing experience for every participant.  I am very pleased that this marathon has been designated as a national event.

3. What got you involved with Team In Training?

I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October of 2009.  While I was undergoing treatment my brother-in-law registered and trained for America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.  After he successfully completed the ride he challenged my husband and I to join him the following year.  Six months after I went into remission I began training and fell in love with the people and the mission.  I have since completed two marathon events, four century cycling events, and three triathlons.  TNT has become a family mission.


4. Finish this sentence, I do “TNTBecause…”
 I want to pay it forward.  LLS funded research for a drug called Rituxan.  Rituxan was one of the drugs that saved my life and has kept me in remission.  Someone was training and fundraising years ago before I had ever heard of TNT.  Those individuals were directly responsible for the drugs available to me that allowed my recovery.  I am grateful and want to help someone else who is diagnosed.   I am committed to participate in at least one event per year until we have a cure.

5. Tell us about the team you’ve formed to run the relay with.  
My relay team consists of my good friend, Teresa Keenan, my son, Donnie Constantine, his fiancĂ© Ana Valdez Moeller and her sister Daniella Valdez Moeller.  We just couldn’t finish one event without having our sites on the next.  We are already looking to 2017 for a TNT event to follow the BMW Dallas Marathon.  We have named our relay team “Team Kristen” in memory of a friend’s daughter who passed away from a blood cancer.  While there is so much positive news about survival rates and improved treatments we have not won the battle.  We need to stay focused and encouraged until we have a cure.

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Did you know?
  • BMW Dallas Marathon is the longest running race in the state of Texas
  • More than 40 different bands are on the course for your entertainment
  • Stay 2 nights at the TNT hotel and you can skip expo lines and have your packet waiting in your hotel room!
  • Earn Awesome Fundraising Incentives
Join the Dallas Marathon TNT Team or join the 5 Person Relay!  150 people have already taken the challenge.  Contact Mariel Bongiovanni for more details. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

#TNTBECAUSE - Meet Chris & Cheryl

Here is our fourth in a series of posts leading up to the BMW Dallas Marathon. Today we are interviewing Chris & Cheryl Berg.  The Berg's have been involved with LLS since 2008 when their son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). Read on to hear why they are doing the Dallas Marathon.

1. What made you decide to run the BMW Dallas Marathon?

North Texas is our home and we enjoy running and training in the fall in order to take part in the BMW Dallas Marathon.  This will be Cheryl's 8th marathon and it will be Chris' 7th with TNT.

2What does it mean to you that the BMW Dallas Marathon has been named a national event for Team In Training?

We are Texas proud!  There is nothing better to see than the sea of Team In Training participants in purple running in Dallas and hearing "Go Team" echo through the downtown buildings. We look forward to seeing all the TNT participants from across the nation joining together for the same cause.


3. What got you involved with Team In Training?
Our son James was diagnosed with ALL in April of 2008, just prior to his 5th birthday.  After a year of intensive treatment and many hospital stays, his health stabilized.  At that point, we wanted to do more to make sure no child would ever have to go through what James had to endure. This year marks James 5th year from being done with the chemo treatment that lasted 3 1/2 years.  James is our hero and our motivation to come back year after year.


4. Finish this sentence, I do “TNTBecause…”
Because if we don't who will.



5. Tell us about the team you’ve formed to run the relay with.
We have not done the relay but the two of us are a team.  Together we have had sleepless nights worrying about James, stressed about how to make all of the right decisions about his treatment and struggled wondering if there will be another shoe that is waiting to drop with his health.  Together we plow through the 26.2 miles each year hoping and praying the efforts of Team in Training members and great researchers make more discoveries to help the next James Berg.


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Did you know?
  • BMW Dallas Marathon is the longest running race in the state of Texas
  • More than 40 different bands are on the course for your entertainment
  • Stay 2 nights at the TNT hotel and you can skip expo lines and have your packet waiting in your hotel room!
  • Earn Awesome Fundraising Incentives
Join the Dallas Marathon TNT Team or join the 5 Person Relay!  150 people have already taken the challenge.  Contact Mariel Bongiovanni for more details. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

National Caregiver Month: How LLS Cares for the Caregiver


November is National Caregiver Month. Caregiving can be a lonely experience. Caregivers often don't feel they should be seeking support for themselves, but the best way to care for a loved one is to care for yourself. There are several ways to reach out to others who are in similar situations or have recently been through a similar experience.

LLS offers a number of helpful resources. For more information about any of the services listed below, contact an LLS Information Specialist.
  • Weekly Online Chat for Caregivers. Our live, weekly online chat provide a friendly forum to share experiences and chat with other caregivers. Each chat is moderated by an oncology social worker.
  • Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program. First Connection is a telephone support program that links you with a trained peer volunteer who has experienced a similar situation. Anyone with a blood-related cancer, as well as caregivers, is eligible to receive a call or visit. There is no charge for this program.
  • LLS Blood Cancer Discussion Boards. Meet your peers online and share thoughts and experiences on our Blood Cancer Discussion Boards.
  • Family Support Groups. LLS's Family Support Group program is open to patients, family members and caregivers. Volunteer nurses and social workers professionally lead the groups. Contact the chapter nearest you to find out about Family Support Groups in your area.

Getting Information:

Caregivers often become the primary "researchers" for disease information and support in an effort to assist the person with cancer and to help him or her better understand the disease, treatment options and side effects.

LLS offers free materials and services designed to simplify this search for information and support. Navigate the Resources for Patients and Caregivers tab at the top of this website for disease information, support and education resources, or contact an LLS Information Specialist.
Never hesitate to contact me directly if you have questions about any of these services or need help getting access to them.  
_______________________________________________________________________________

Seetha Modi is the Patient Access Manager of the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and author of this monthly blog series.  She has an Masters in Public Health and has experience working with varied aspects of the healthcare industry, including hospitals, the CDC and other health-related nonprofit organizations.

Contact Seetha:
(972) 996-5905

Thursday, October 27, 2016

#TNTBECAUSE - Meet Jennifer Massaviol

Here is our third in a series of posts leading up to the BMW Dallas Marathon. Today we are interviewing Jennifer Massaviol.  She has been involved with LLS since 2009 when her Dad, Dave Eckberg, served as a team Honored Hero.  Read on to hear why she is doing the Dallas Marathon.




1. What made you decide to run the BMW Dallas Marathon?

It's such a great, local event.  Though I'm doing the Vegas Half in November, I didn't want to miss out on the excitement of participating in the BMW Dallas Marathon.


2What does it mean to you that the BMW Dallas Marathon has been named a national event for Team In Training?
It means that we can look forward to a sea of purple people swarming into Dallas to join the fight against blood cancers.  It's always so inspiring to see so many TNT participants working together for a common cause.


3. What got you involved with Team In Training?

 I joined TNT in 2009 after my dad had been an Honored Hero and participant for a couple of years.  I started out walking half marathons with him.  The 2009 Dallas Half-Marathon was my first event.  When my dad was no longer able to train, I decided that I would complete a full Dallas Marathon -- to complete my half and also his.  I'm now fundraising for my 8th and 9th seasons with TNT.


4. Finish this sentence, I do “TNTBecause…”

... it makes me feel less powerless in my dad's fight against leukemia.
... TNT is made up of so many wonderful people.
... I've seen so much progress in the treatments for blood cancers since my dad's diagnosis, and I want to be a part of one day soon finding a CURE.



5. Tell us about the team you’ve formed to run the relay with.
My team is comprised mainly of co-workers.  A TNT teammate (Cate Gussio) and I discovered that we were co-workers at Sprint.  A year later we decided to pull together a Sprint team to run the relay at the Dallas Marathon.

You can read more about Jen's story here

______________________________________________________________________________


Did you know?

  • BMW Dallas Marathon is the longest running race in the state of Texas
  • More than 40 different bands are on the course for your entertainment
  • Stay 2 nights at the TNT hotel and you can skip expo lines and have your packet waiting in your hotel room!
  • Earn Awesome Fundraising Incentives
Join the Dallas Marathon TNT Team or join the 5 Person Relay!  150 people have already taken the challenge.  Contact Mariel Bongiovanni for more details. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Patient Education: Living with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia


Blood Cancer Awareness Month wrapped up and the impact of LLS remains strong in the world of acute leukemias.  I am excited to share some of the latest research that shows promise for patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

LLS was a funder of Dr. David Sykes (Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute), lead author of a study that found a common point in the genetic pathway that leads to AML, which could point to a treatment target that could benefit AML patients with various genetic abnormalities.  In the study, they found that targeting this point with an enzyme inhibitor (DHODH inhibitor) allowed them to identify how to set the treatment dosage in mice to limit side effects of chemotherapy while enhancing length of remission.  This is great news for the potential of this type of targeted treatment for AML and other cancers.


There will be a CML webinar on November 2nd for patients and caregivers. These types of programs are funded by the support of LLS fundraisers. Register here.


Many patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) receive a blood test called a PCR test (which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction) multiple times per year. You may also hear this test referred to as a BCR-ABLPCR test. This test can find a very small number of CML cells in your blood. The results help doctors decide if the CML is under control.

Even with insurance, this test may show up on your bills. LLS can help pay these costs. We can provide help with up to $1,000 of your BCR-ABL PCR test costs during your enrollment period. Individuals with or without insurance can apply. No dollar amount is too small, so please call or apply today.

To be eligible for the program, you must:
• Have a chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) diagnosis
• Be a United States (US) citizen or permanent resident of the US or Puerto Rico
• Meet the household income requirements. Click here to see if you are eligible.
• Apply by Phone: (877) 614-9242
• Apply Online: Click here (You will need to register before submitting an application.)
If you have questions or are unsure whether you have CML or receive this test:
• Call (800) 955-4572, email or live chat

_______________________________________________________________________________

Seetha Modi is the Patient Access Manager of the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and author of this monthly blog series.  She has an Masters in Public Health and has experience working with varied aspects of the healthcare industry, including hospitals, the CDC and other health-related nonprofit organizations.

Contact Seetha:
Seetha.Modi@lls.org
(972) 996-5905