Gateway Chapter

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The Word:


11 Year Old Serves as a Voice for Cancer Patients


August 23, 2013 -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Gateway Chapter has invested more than $11.6 million in research to find a cure.  Developing innovative, patient-administered medicines is an increasing trend - approximately 40% of all cancer drugs currently under development are oral or patient-administered treatments; and are now recognized as the standard of care.  Oral chemotherapy treatments often have fewer and less severe side effects than infused medications which help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

As medical breakthroughs occur, some Missouri patients do not have access to new therapies because our state does not offer parity between oral and infused chemotherapy agents.

"One example of pediatric leukemia treatment protocol is 3 years with weekly visits to the clinic for IV chemotherapy.  The chemo kills all cells - good and bad.  New oral therapies like Gleevec and Rituxan target and kill cancer cells exclusively.  Therefore many of the side effects are mitigated.  The family and patient just want their lives to go back to "normal" after a cancer diagnosis and targeted oral therapies make that happen," says Debbie Kersting, executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Gateway Chapter.

According to Department of Insurance, 26 states and the District of Columbia have already enacted laws to ensure access to oral anticancer therapies. 

Luke's Story
Luke was diagnosed with prelymphoblastic lymphoma (B cell) in late July 2012.  He is the oldest of four siblings, loves sports and is active in Boy Scouts. For 9 months he had to make weekly visits to the hospital to receive his chemotherapy treatments.  Finally after months of arguing with the insurance company, Luke's mother convinced them to cover the oral form of his chemotherapy drug. This allows him to go back to school, relax at home during treatments, participate in sports with his friends and live a next to normal life. Luke is now in the maintenance cycle of his treatment, which he will continue until July 2014. If the treatment is successful, he will then be in remission. He is now 11 years old and is a sixth grader at Kirkwood North Middle School. Luke and his mother, Becky, serve as advocates for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and hope their story will encourage Missouri legislators to enact oral parity legislation.

Gov. Nixon signed SB262 which moves Missouri one step closer to oral parity for cancer patients. The "Missouri Oral Chemotherapy Parity Interim Committee" was created to study the disparity in patient co-payments between orally and intravenously administered chemotherapies.

For more information or if you would like to speak to Luke and Becky, please contact The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Debbie Kersting at 314-660-9956 or or Kelly Wahl at or 314-422-4075.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services. 

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. .


last updated on Monday, August 26, 2013