The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was founded in 1949 as the Leukemia Society of America by a couple who had lost their only son to leukemia. The parents envisioned an organization which would, through research, find a cure for the disease that killed their son. The name of the society was changed to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2000 to reflect the society's wider mission of fighting all blood-related cancers. Their mission statement, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's web page, is "to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families". The LLS pursues this mission by funding research, education for medical professionals, patient services, advocacy, and public education. The LLS raises funds primarily through donations and grants. Over 76% of the funds raised go directly to research and patient services, making it one of the top rated voluntary health agencies. It is currently the largest voluntary health organization in the United States.
A major contributor to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's fundraising efforts is the Team in Training program. Team in Training (TNT) is the largest endurance training program in the United States, with more than 30,000 participants in 2001 alone. TNT started in the late 1980's when runner Lucy Duffy ran the New York City Marathon in honor of her husband, who had leukemia. Lucy handed out flyers to the race day crowd as she ran, explaining that her husband was fighting leukemia, and asking for donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Lucy collected over $22,000 in donations that day. In 1988, Bruce Cleland organized a team of runners who raised $322,000 for the LLS while training together for the New York City Marathon, and Team in Training was born. Participants in TNT train together for endurance events such as marathons, century rides, and triathlons, while collecting sponsorships and donations on behalf of the LLS. Local chapters have professional coaches who help participants train for their event, as well as mentors who help participants meet their fundraising goals. The TNT participants in the 2001 Honolulu Marathon alone raised more than $6.2 million.
Research funded by grants from the LLS has directly resulted in the development of many innovative treatments which have been invaluable in treating both blood-related and non-blood-related cancers. Some of the most well-known of these treatments are chemotherapy, and bone-marrow transplants. The primary goal of all this research is to discover more effective treatments with fewer side effects, and ultimately, to find a cure for blood related cancers.
The positive results of the LLS's enormous contributions to research and education can be seen in the survival rates for leukemia and lymphoma patients. Since 1960, the survival rate for adults diagnosed with leukemia has tripled, and, most encouraging of all, the survival rate for children diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) has skyrocketed from 4% to 80%.
ALL is the most common form of leukemia in children under age 15, while older adults (over 65) are most commonly diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Despite tremendous advances in diagnosis and treatment, leukemia is still the leading cause of cancer death in men under age 40, women under age 20, and children under age 15.
Check out the following web sites for more information on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training:
*Information in this writeup was taken from various web sites as well as personal experience with the Team in Training program.