Not a day goes by without news reports about the financial toll of cancer care. It is also a theme running through the annual meeting of The American Society of Clinical Oncology (#ASCO17) in Chicago this week. In fact, 75 abstracts will be presented throughout the meeting on various aspects of financial toxicity.
An education session on Saturday featured several provocative presentations. Some raised questions about value frameworks, tools designed to help doctors and patients assess the value of a drug in relation to its cost, and whether such frameworks should be part of oncologists’ standard clinical practice. There is consensus that giving doctors and patients tools to make informed decisions is a positive step. However, among the drawbacks is the inconsistency of the methodology across the different frameworks brought forth by various organizations, including ASCO, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and others.
The annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (#ASCO17) meeting kicked off Friday, drawing a multinational gathering of more than 38,000 cancer researchers, clinicians, patient advocates, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to Chicago to share the latest advances in cancer care.
As has been the case in recent years at these major cancer conferences, the emphasis has been on emerging approaches to immunotherapy, which are therapies that harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer, and precision medicine, which are therapies that target the genetic drivers of the disease. While much of the focus of this meeting is on solid tumor cancers, such as lung, breast and colon cancer, there has also been news of interest in the blood cancers.
Ella Behnke of San Antonio, Texas, is a 16-year-old cheerleader who attends Alamo Heights High School and is making history, as the winner of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) national title “Student of the Year.” Ella raised more than $334,768 for LLS to invest in cancer cures with an intense seven-week fundraising campaign involving everything from a very active campaign team, social media activations to visiting cancer patients at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
Ella knows firsthand about battling cancer — she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoblastic lymphoma at the age of two. This made her victory even sweeter, “I’m honored to be able to have an impact for others who are still fighting this disease. I want to help find a cure, I believe I can make a change, I believe I will make a change,” said Ella.
To help spread awareness, Ella, with support from her campaign manager and twin sister Berkley, visited young cancer patients in the hospital and shared their courageous stories on her fundraising page.
Ella is so grateful for her Campaign Team! They helped fundraise tremendously for her. Working as a squad, they used their social media expertise to launch a fundraising page on Facebook, “Open Your Heart with Ella,” where Ella unveiled several fundraising activities including:
A “sold out” fundraiser comprised of prizes put together by her campaign leaders and families
“Shop for a Cause,” an exclusive eating and shopping event at local shops, including Penny Lane, Baker Tatum, and Meadow Boutique
“Crush for LLS,” a baseball fundraiser held at the Gaylard Finley baseball tournament, where $25 was donated every time an Alamo Heights player hit the ball
“LLS Cheer Challenge,” a social media campaign where local supporters posted videos in various cheering routines, and using the hashtag, #LLScheerchallenge
The David Clark & David Dikin fundraising event benefiting LLS
In the campaign’s inaugural year, this innovative take on peer-to-peer fundraising conceived by LLS, the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to fighting blood cancers, mobilized more than 400 motivated high school students across the country who raised an astounding total of $6 million for LLS’s cutting-edge cancer research and patient services.
The Students of the Year program is a seven-week campaign in which select high school students participate in a fundraising competition to benefit LLS. The candidates/teams who raise the most money at the end of the competition earn the title Student(s) of the Year. Top local fundraisers become eligible to win the national title. The students raise money in honor of a local patient hero who is currently battling or is in remission from a blood cancer.
Through programs like Students of the Year, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough therapies. The funds raised through Students of the Year are used for:
Research to advance lifesaving therapies like precision medicine and immunotherapies that are saving lives today;
Free blood cancer information, education and support for patients and families;
National and local advocacy efforts for policies that provide access to lifesaving treatments to the patients who need them.