Taking Steps To Cure Cancer

Tue, Jun 27, 2017
Cancer Awareness Month
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(ARA) - After a routine blood test in 2001, Helen Anbinder, now 67, of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., heard the dreaded words: You have cancer. The diagnosis was chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a serious blood cancer that affects more than 90,000 people in the United States.

One of her first calls was to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to learn more about what lay ahead for her. "The literature arrived quickly, along with the location of my local chapter, a list of support groups and an offer to put me in touch with someone who had CLL and could speak to me from personal experience," Anbinder recalls.

Anbinder was put on a "watch and wait" protocol, holding off on treatment unless the white blood count rose to dangerous levels or she developed symptoms. In the meantime, Anbinder immersed herself more fully in the activities of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, volunteering with her local chapter.
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In 2004 she formed her first "Anbinder Friends & Family Team" for LLSís Light The Night Walk, an evening walk held in twilight in communities across the United States and Canada, to pay tribute to lives touched by cancer. Participants carry illuminated balloons, white for survivors, red for supporters and gold to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer. Funds raised through Light The Night Walk support the work of hundreds of the worldís best and brightest researchers in their search for better therapies and cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

In its first year, Anbinderís team walked at the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, and raised $6,000 to support blood cancer research and patient services. The following year they raised more than $19,000; in 2006 they raised $21,000; in 2007, they raised more than $23,000; and at the walk in October 2008 they broke their record with more than $27,000 raised.

Last yearís walk took on even more meaning for Anbinder, because after seven years of watching and waiting, her white blood cell count climbed high enough to warrant treatment just months prior to the event.

The treatment she received had been proven effective by researchers funded by LLS. In 2005, Dr. John C. Byrd of the Ohio State Medical Center, and clinical colleagues, were among the first to discover that Rituxan combined with fludarabine was effective for previously untreated patients with CLL. Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody, was already being used to successfully treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. Anbinder began her treatment with this combination in May 2008 and after only three cycles was in remission by July.

"I can never forget that the very effective treatment I received was developed by Dr. Byrd, a researcher funded by LLS and that it didnít even exist when I was diagnosed in 2001,"Anbinder says. "I am so grateful to be able to help support the lifesaving work of LLS funded researchers."

Anbinderís team will once again walk the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2009. Friends and family teams, as well as corporate teams all across the country are beginning to form right now in preparation for the fall walk season. Participants can also walk individually. To learn more about Light The Night Walk or to form your own team, visit www.lightthenight.org or call (877) LTN-WALK.

To learn more about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please visit them online at www.lls.org
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