What happens when a group of nurses, doctors and cancer survivors of all ages come together to climb the highest mountain in Africa? History is made, and more importantly, lives are saved.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Hollywood cinematographer and cancer survivor, Lila Javan, and her team, Team Javan, of 14 supporters – ranging from age 19 to 60 – have officially started their 12-day climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for cancer cures. Team Javan has been vigorously training for the past several months as part of Climb 2 Cure (C2C), a new fundraising adventure offered in LLS’s Team In Training program.
Lila will be filming the entire climb from start to finish, and starring in the documentary of her career. This is no ordinary “girl against the mountain” story. She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) – one of the most deadly blood cancers – twice. Lila dreamnt about taking-on the big climb from her hospital bed, and now she is literally moving mountains.
An Uphill Battle
At age 39, Lila received her AML diagnosis right before she was about to shoot a big movie. Fortunately, her recovery was so miraculous that six months into remission, she joined LLS’s billion-dollar fundraising campaign, Team In Training and ran the Los Angeles Marathon. But her journey to fight cancer didn’t end there.
Armed with the fact that every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer, Lila was determined to give back. After being in remission for almost five years, she was planning a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro— a bucket-list challenge that she was hoping to complete one day. Just when she was looking into flights, she was re-diagnosed with AML.
During her months in the hospital, her friends added a big picture of Kilimanjaro to her hospital room to keep her focused on her goal. After undergoing a second bone marrow transplant, Lila once again achieved remission and formed the Climb 2 Cure campaign, which represents a group of people coming together in teams to raise money for LLS as they train together for the ultimate adventure of a lifetime.
Several participants on Team Javan are doctors and nurses who Lila inspired to join while in the hospital at UCLA. Team Javan is the first official C2C team – with a total fundraising goal of $100,000. As of today, Lila has personally raised over $24,000. Team Javan has inspired dozens of other participants across the U.S. to form their own C2C teams who will also be climbing Kilimanjaro throughout the year and raising significant money for LLS — including Ghost Hunter stars Jeff Belanger and Dustin Pari.
A national coach will help train C2C participants for the big climb with regularly scheduled hikes that simulate the duration of the hike days on Kilimanjaro.
Stay tuned for Team Javan’s epic photos and videos – including behind-the-scenes content and footage of the team’s experience on the mountain. Notably, on January 12, they will be able to soak in the spectacular views of a full moon from one of the highest points on earth. See photos of Team Javan in Africa below..
Learn how you can donate to Team Javan and help them reach their fundraising goal for cancer cures, or become involved with Team In Training’s Climb 2 Cure here.
As Vice President of LLS’s Office of Public Policy, Bernadette O’Donoghue leads strategic public policy development at the federal and state levels, providing input from patients to help improve access to care and accelerate cures.
This week was a monumental victory for cancer patients. The 21st Century Cures Act, which will significantly speed access to new lifesaving therapies, was signed into a law. Now, cancer patients, survivors and their families are closer to improved diagnostics, treatments, and ultimately, cures.
This legislation will ensure that innovative scientific research goes from bench to bedside to the patients who need it most. It includes a $4.8 billion funding increase for the National Institute of Health (NIH), including $1.8 million for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.
Furthermore, the law will support new biomedical research, promote innovative clinical trial designs, expand opportunities for patients’ voices in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug development process, and provide new tools for patients to better access experimental drugs when they have no other options.
Over the past two years, since Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) launched the initiative, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has been actively engaged in the initiative and has tirelessly advocated for the passage of this legislation.
With more than 30,000 letters, phone calls, and Congressional visits, LLS staff and advocates have been on the frontlines in support of the 21st Century Cures Act. We have proposed policies focused on the needs of patients, met with White House and FDA officials, amplified the voice of patients in front of Congress, mobilized to visit elected officials across the country, and rallied communities across the country to advocate for this legislation.
As we celebrate this victory, we also know there is more work to be done. LLS will play a vital role in ensuring that the law is implemented appropriately. When the legislation goes under annual review by Congress to approve investments in medical science, we will be there. When additional actions from the NIH and FDA are needed to enact policy, we will be there. We will continue to serve as the voice for blood cancer patients every step of the way, as we work to accelerate cures.
LLS advocates and staff met with Chairman Fred Upton and Rep. Diana DeGette at the Energy and Commerce Committee round table in Kalamazoo, Michigan in April 2015. (Source: @LLSAdvocacy Twitter)
LLS advocates and staff on Capitol Hill meeting with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)'s office in June 2015. (Source: @GailGoodell Twitter)
Burlington Stores and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 15th consecutive year of partnership in the fight against blood cancers was a huge success, to say the least. As LLS’s #1 National Corporate Partner and Honored Friend, Burlington Stores, surpassed their $3.6 million goal by a longshot raising more than a record-breaking $3.8 million!
Funds were raised through a national 12-week in-store promotion, where customers were encouraged to donate to the cause at check-out. The campaign featured young “heroes” who are blood cancer survivors. All donations are used to invest in lifesaving research and breakthrough treatments for blood cancer patients.
This year’s campaign launched in September, Blood Cancer Awareness Month and concluded on November 30. Donations were especially high during the fall and holiday shopping season, when millions of customers could donate to the cause at check out.
Burlington Stores and LLS believe in the power of teamwork, and have proven that each and every donation helps in the fight against blood cancer.
“We’re very grateful for Burlington’s dedicated staff who made this year’s campaign the most successful yet. Burlington is truly bringing us closer to our goal of a world without blood cancers,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, PhD, LLS president and chief executive officer.
Over the past 15 years, Burlington has raised more than $29.4 million to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients around the world. Burlington is proud to be a caring company striving to improve the communities its associates live and work in.
Congratulations to the more than 37,000 Burlington associates in the 593 stores across the United States and in Puerto Rico, and all of their generous customers!