Hi everyone! Ruth here, blogging from wintry Toronto. I thought today I’d give Sarah a break from doing all our blog postings, and talk a bit about blood cancers and why we chose it for K2C.
Kind to the Core (or #K2C for our @BAMstrength Twitter followers) is our December fitness challenge. In it, we are being Kind to our cores via planks, push-ups, and the ever-popular plank reach (known as the foghorn reach by some). By the end of the month we will be push-up ninjas with strong cores, able to do other fitness challenges without wheezing, and will laugh in the face of 60 push-ups in a day!
The other part of our challenge is to be Kind to others by donating $1 for each of our thirty days in K2C to Leukemia & Lymphoma Research, a charity based out of the UK focused on researching blood cancers and providing patient support.
So. Blood cancer. What is it?
Let’s start with some basic science:
Normal blood is made up of red blood cells (which carry oxygen all through your body), white blood cells (which fight infection and disease), and platelets (which help the blood move through your body and make sure it clots when you cut yourself).
Produced in the marrow of our bones, these three types of cells are present in every drop of blood and are the reason you can breathe in and out, fight off the flu, and, essentially, live. (Interesting fact – bone marrow produces 500 billion blood cells per day. BILLION!)
Now imagine there is a problem with the bone marrow, and the blood cells aren’t being produced, or they are defective in some way. Simply put, that’s blood cancer, and there are three main types:
- Leukemia occurs when basic blood cells go bananas and create too many “defective” cells and crowd out the production of “normal” cells.
- Lymphoma causes defective white blood cells to collect in your lymph nodes in the form of tumours. This impairs your lymphatic system which directly supports your immune system.
- Myeloma, which causes plasma cells to be produced uncontrollably, making up 2-3 times as much of your blood as normal. Eventually the immune system fails and bones can weaken.
Cancer is something that just about everyone can identify with. Either we’ve fought it (or are fighting it), or we know someone who has fought and won, or sadly did not win.
For Sarah, Linda, and me, donating to a blood cancer research organization is a personal thing.
- For me, it relates directly to my mother, who finally lost her battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2012. Get this – she
had it for 31 years! Honestly she was a medical miracle and was often used as a teaching opportunity by the amazing doctors both in New York (where she was originally diagnosed when we lived there) and Toronto (at the world-renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Centre).
- Sarah has been touched by people all around her with various types of cancers, and her “not-quite-cousin” in Wales died from Leukemia.
- Linda’s Dad was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and eventually died from prostate cancer which led to bone cancer. Also, her paternal grandmother died from CLL and her maternal grandfather died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Why the organization in the UK vs. similar ones in Canada or the US? Partly because each of us has our heritage in the UK in some crazy combination of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In fact, Sarah’s “not-quite-cousin” in Wales supported this charity while she was fighting her battle against Leukemia.
And ok, honestly? It’s also because it’s Sam Heughan’s charity, and we thought that maybe more people on Twitter would participate and donate because of that association. A few of our members have asked if it’s ok to donate to their local blood cancer charity instead of the one we have chosen, and OF COURSE it is! Just please let us know so we can associate it with our K2C donations.
Here are a few stats from the United States about blood cancer (source: leukemia-research.org):
- One person is diagnosed with blood cancer every 4 minutes
- 55,000 people will die from blood cancer this year
- Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer in young adults under the age of 20, yet it’s diagnosed ten times more often in adults than in children
- The five-year survival rate for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Leukemia is about 8% lower for African Americans than Caucasians.
- Leukemia is the most common cancer for Hispanic children, with a slightly lower survival rate than for Caucasian children.
So now that you’re depressed, how about this awesome fact? The survival rates for blood cancers has improved dramatically over the years. Check out these charts (source cancerresearchuk.org):
Treatments are getting better and better every year. When my Mum was diagnosed in 1981, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was a death sentence. Her strength and attitude, combined with an incredible faith, carried her through five diagnoses of “you have six months to live.” Now, in 2014, it is far from a death sentence. I know people who have beaten the same disease with excellent results, and it appears this is more and more common.
Research is the key. It is moving treatment and care of patients with blood cancer into a never-before imagined realm of hope and success. We know that our small donations can be a part of this momentum, and will help all of us feel just a little bit better about helping others during this holiday season.
If you aren’t a part of our #K2C fitness challenge, please feel free to donate anyway. And if you do decide to donate, please go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Research website and make sure you use reference number 787457 in the notes section of the donation form. This allows us to track how much was donated by #K2C members!
We know our #K2C team is awesome and kind! Thank you for that!!! BAM!