For nearly 65 years, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been helping blood cancer patients, and in three weeks, our three-day conference in Washington D.C. will afford us an opportunity to show how we are leading the way to a world without blood cancers.
LLS is celebrating a momentous milestone: Since our inception we have invested more than $1 billion in research to find cures and ensure access to therapies for all blood cancer patients.
Bringing this conference to our nation’s Capital will provide LLS an opportunity to communicate our role as a global leader in cancer research, and highlight to a broad audience how that $1 billion investment is changing lives, today.
Equally important, this gathering is an opportunity to engage volunteers in our mission. Like all nonprofits, LLS relies on the energy, compassion and enthusiasm of our volunteers. Throughout the three days we will be immersing them in all aspects of our cures and access mission. Our advocacy day enables us to impact the public policy discussion on Federal legislative and regulatory issues that affect our patients.
The Road to Cures
Monday, May 5, will be a day devoted to our research initiatives. LLS-funded researchers will speak about “omics” - the application of advanced technology to identify cancer-causing mutations, what causes a premalignant condition to transform into cancer, and the role of the tumor microenvironment in the progression of cancer. The closer we come to understanding the mechanisms that cause cancer, the closer we come to cures.
A provocative panel discussion will follow, including researchers, physicians, parents of pediatric cancer patients and a leader from FDA. The topic: “What is a Cure,” will attempt to answer questions like these: What defines a cure? Are we there yet? Is chronic treatment good enough?
Tuesday, May 6, our Volunteer Leadership Day is designed to train our volunteers to be more effective fundraisers. The volunteers who attend this conference will return to their local chapters inspired, informed and more engaged than ever. In addition to workshops, the day will feature inspirational special guests, including survivors and family members, celebrities, and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Suleika Joauad, acute myeloid leukemia survivor and The New York Times Well blogger, and Ethan Zohn, Hodgkin lymphoma survivor from CBS’s “Survivor,” will be among the speakers.
Bringing our Message to the Hill
We conclude our Washington conference on Wednesday, May 7, with Advocacy Day: “Leading the Charge for Cures and Access.” More than 500 advocates from around the U.S. will storm the Hill to deliver a message to their legislators about LLS’s access agenda and how it impacts the patients we serve. Our volunteers will be lobbying for two bills to improve access to innovative therapies for patients. Both bills limit the use of "specialty tier" drug designations, thereby increasing affordability of treatments for patients.
Supporters and LLS Colleagues are being asked to sign our petition, which asks legislators to support these proposed bills, and you can do so now by visiting www.lls.org/accessnow.
Help Us Declare It!
To amplify our message we are installing a giant “Declare It!” wall, to engage visitors in our movement. Pieces of the wall will be stationed in high-traffic locations throughout Washington D.C. with visitors asked to declare their support by affixing “Cancer Ends with Me” stickers on the wall and to sign our petition. The wall experience will culminate with all of the pieces coming together at Union Station for a finale celebration of LLS’s impact on saving patients’ lives, featuring a performance by actor/singer Charles Esten, whose daughter is a leukemia survivor. When sharing the experience via social media, we’re asking participants to use the hashtag: #ideclare4LLS.
Bringing this meeting to our nation’s capital provides an opportunity to garner positive attention for our mission and the work our staff and volunteers do, day in and day out, to advocate for patients. We are at a critical crossroads, poised to bring more life-saving therapies to patients, and it will take sustained effort on the part of our volunteers, supporters and staff to help us get there.