None of this work would be possible without you: our supporters and volunteers who share our relentless drive to cure cancer. In honor of National Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, 11/23, we thank our dedicated volunteer partners across the country who give their time and talent to LLS each and every day.
When you volunteer with LLS, you become part of our vibrant community of supporters who represent all walks of life and bring unique experiences and passions to drive forward our mission. You become invaluable partners to our staff in our quest for cancer cures. And you become part of the LLS family because beating cancer is in our blood. With countless ways to engage, our volunteers are truly making a difference and for some, getting involved with LLS is a family affair.
For the Wolberg family, “nothing is more beautiful than giving back together,” says Margeaux, a passionate LLS volunteer and sophomore at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Margeaux has been participating in LLS’s Light The Night fundraising campaign since she was two years old. The Wolbergs formed a Friends & Family Light The Night team in San Francisco in 2002 after Margeaux’s father, Michael, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Creating their own team offered an important sense of community for the family and over the years, their involvement deepened. “LLS supports the kind of work that saved my dad’s life and the lives of others. It feels like the most important thing we could be doing as a family,” says Margeaux. Her father has been in remission for nearly 15 years.
The family volunteers with LLS in different ways. Margeaux’s mother, Kirsten, served previously on the Greater Bay Area Chapter’s Board of Trustees and runs an executive team at her company Docusign. Her dad and her sister, Annika, fundraise and join Light The Night each year. In 2011, Margeaux became Team Captain of the Michael Wolberg Remission Team at the age of 12 – an incredible feat. “The amount of respect and support I received from other volunteers, teams and LLS staff was amazing. It was very powerful to have a community of people believe in me,” she adds.
Since then, Margeaux has continued to give her time and talent, from collaborating with LLS staff to create a special High School Challenge fundraiser in San Francisco to participating in Planning Committees and sharing her story. Today, she leads her family’s Light The Night team – a top team in San Francisco – and volunteers with LLS’s New York City Chapter, including helping out at a recent LLS Blood Cancer Conference.
“Volunteering with LLS is the one of the best ways for us to honor my dad, show our gratitude and fuel the work of an organization that is helping other families fight cancer,” says Margeaux.
No matter how you choose to volunteer – in a team, with your family or as an individual who wants to achieve a world without blood cancer – we appreciate your extraordinary efforts. When someone asks you why you are volunteering with LLS, instead of any number of other things you could be doing, please tell them: “Because I’m curing cancer.” Because you are!
From our family at LLS to yours: thank you. Thank you for sharing your time, talent and passion with us.
If beating cancer is in your blood, we have a rewarding volunteer opportunity for you – whatever your interests, skills or time commitments.
This year, LLS received a three-year grant to fund a new intervention study by Carma Bylund, PhD, University of Florida, and her research team that aims to improve family and healthcare communication among adults who care for a parent with blood cancer. This work builds upon in-depth qualitative research completed by Dr. Bylund and LLS in 2018, which identified unique communication challenges faced by these caregivers. Both research studies were funded by the Carolan Research Institute. We sat down with Dr. Bylund to ask her about her work…
Dr. Carma Bylund (purple shirt) and her research team at the University of Florida.
Q. In 2018, you conducted qualitative interviews by phone with individuals who cared for either a child or parent with blood cancer. What were some interesting findings?
It was interesting that most of the respondents were around the same age – an average age of 43. We uncovered many differences and similarities among the groups. Both spoke about the personal rewards of caregiving, including gaining more perspective, feeling empowered, and developing more compassion. They also shared challenges including the impact of caregiving on their work, career and finances.
Many caregivers reported challenges of finding appropriate information online, and feeling overwhelmed or confused. Caregivers of parents reported calling LLS, but caregivers of children relied more heavily on information from their healthcare team.
Caregivers of children emphasized how their child’s cancer affected their personal well-being and some of the difficulties of interacting with their sick child. It seemed harder for them to discuss and accept the cancer diagnosis and prognosis. Caregivers of parents focused on “role reversal” and the ability to give back to their parents who cared for them. While caregivers of children are already living in the same home, caregivers of parents often had to relocate. The caregivers of parents expressed greater impact on the structure of their lives, and reported conflict with siblings in negotiating caregiver roles.
Q. You plan to conduct an LLS-funded intervention study to uncover ways to improve family and healthcare communication for caregivers of parents. What are your goals?
In the intervention study, caregivers of parents will receive an online training hosted on www.LLS.org. Our goal is to address some of the issues within families when adults care for their parents, including the impact on their family system and conflicts with siblings. We also aim to improve information seeking by enhancing online literacy and focusing on teaching caregivers how to look up information online and speak to the patient’s doctor about it.
Want to learn more about how LLS supports caregivers? Click here!
“Women have the power and when we join together, we can make all the difference.”
With those words, Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer at WWE, captured the theme of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Women Curing Cancer” initiative, which brings together philanthropic women to move collectively the needle in cancer cures and access to treatments.
On Wednesday, Stephanie joined LLS’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gwen Nichols, and LLS volunteer Julie Guillot, who lost her 9-year-old son to acute myeloid leukemia, in a powerful and personal panel discussion about their commitment to fighting pediatric cancer. They were joined by about 50 philanthropic women at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., to listen to the panel and network over a common goal to drive more research and help for patients with cancer.
In a discussion moderated by Fox Sports anchor Lindsay Czarniak, the women shared their personal stories and desire to change the paradigm of treatment and care for children with cancer.
Stephanie spoke of the collaboration that WWE and their Superstar Roman Reigns have launched with LLS to generate awareness and support for research to find new and better treatments while enhancing support and care for children with cancer. WWE is leveraging its global platforms, including TV broadcasts, live events, WWE Network and digital and social media to support LLS’s Children’s Initiative.
She also spoke of her personal commitment to philanthropy and how her passion for helping children with cancer is aligned with the priorities of LLS, which is why the partnership is so important to her.
Dr. Nichols described The LLS Children’s Initiative, a multifaceted program to increase LLS’s investment in pediatric cancer research grants, expand education and support services for children and families, and launch a global master precision medicine clinical trial in pediatric acute leukemia. She emphasized the urgent need to do more for children and why it’s been such a challenge to develop new therapies for children. Only four cancer drugs have been approved for first use in children over several decades while scores have been approved for adults.
Julie, who is volunteering with LLS to bring in new partners to support The LLS Children’s Initiative, spoke of the devastating loss of her son, Zach, to AML, after brutal rounds of treatment and why she chose to help LLS. She said it would take a significant collaboration and “you need the force of a big organization like LLS to drive forward therapies.”
Earlier in the day, Stephanie, Dr. Nichols, and the two founders of Women Curing Cancer, Evelyn Bata, a clinical counselor, University of Maryland University College professor, and an advocate for women’s and children’s issues, and LLS National Board Member Lynne O’Brien, a policy analyst and government affairs expert, formerly with the White House Cancer Moonshot under Vice President Joe Biden, participated in a morning news segment on FOX5DC.
The women who have joined the “Women Curing Cancer” movement have committed to donating at least $100,000 to support the LLS mission. The group is dedicated to supporting programs like The LLS Children’s Initiative and LLS’s Career Development Program, a grants program supporting blood cancer researchers at a critical juncture early in their careers.
To learn more about Women Curing Cancer, contact Christy.Plunkett@lls.org, director of advancement of the LLS National Capital Chapter.