Hi there! Welcome to our fundraising campaign page for LLS! Here’s a quick background to my story and purpose for this campaign & cause.
At the end of March 2018, the week of my 31st birthday, Grant and I were on our spring break vacation trip to London and Ireland. After returning from our trip, that week we went back to work and began preparing for Greek Easter that weekend, which fell on April 8th, 2018. A quick little back track here, prior to the trip, I began to notice a few small symptoms and signs, but did not think much of them. Some unexplained gum bleeding/bruising and extreme exhaustion/fatigue, in my mind, were probably due to lack of sleep and my typical go-go schedule. A couple days before the trip, and then later while on the trip, I began to notice some bumps around my throat and later my groin area. That week I returned back to work and I couldn’t help but notice more symptoms, ones that I wanted to ignore, but let’s just say, God and a couple other people in my life wouldn’t let me ignore them. After a very strange head pain that I’ve never experienced before and almost passing out/collapsing in front of one of my classes while teaching, I was ultimately encouraged to visit an urgent care after work that week. The call I would get 3 days later, that Holy Saturday, April 7th, 2018, would change my life forever.
Once the urgent care clinic provided me with their lab work, they urged me to go to the ER. From then on, the next 15+ hours were a blur. My white blood cell count was severely high and my hemoglobin was dangerously low. Besides being in desperate need of a blood transfusion, my body was clearly fighting something. After what felt like completing a million tests, needle pokes, X-rays, scans, etc, eventually the moment I never wanted or anticipated came. As two hematology oncologists walked in to my room, and handed us pamphlets/information about Leukemia, they began to say those 3 words no one ever wants to hear, “You have cancer.” They started to explain my diagnosis, a blood cancer called Leukemia (ALL-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). As most do, I went numb. But after experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, I was ready to fight and win this battle against cancer. This has been the most physically and mentally challenging time of my life. It has been a whirlwind, to the say the least. Yet, I have come out of this stronger and better. I won’t get into all the “fun” details and daily play by play, but the following can give you a small glimpse into what the next 1.5 years entailed for me:
Stats (courtesy of Grant’s anal retentive, I mean wonderfully detailed, documentation):
· 1 Blood Clot
· 2 Fertility Preservations
· 3 Neutropenic Fevers
· 3 Hair Loss/Shavings
· 4 Months of continuous (24/7) immunotherapy infusion pumps
· 6 Bone Marrow Biopsies
· 11 Cycles of Chemo
· 13 Spinal Taps (6 more to come…)
· 15 Platelet Transfusions
· 20 Blood Transfusions
· 73 Days in hospital
· 83 Rounds of Chemo Infusions (and counting)
· Over 200 visits/appointments to the hospital (out patient)
· Countless daily meds/pills, blood draws, self-injections, needle pokes, fluids, scans, labs, and endless side effects…
Fast forward almost 1.5 years later, I have completed the intensification/consolidation phase of chemotherapy and now moving on to maintenance therapy. Although this will entail another year and a half of treatment still, this marks a MAJOR milestone in my journey! I would not be where I am today without the incredible, unwavering support and love from God, my husband, family, friends, and medical team/care.
In addition to the best support system, I am so fortunate to be here today due in large part to the research efforts of outstanding organizations, such as LLS, and the generosity of people like you. If it wasn’t for organizations like LLS, we would not have the necessary medicine/treatments, clinical trials, and resources available that has saved countless lives. It has saved my life, and I could not be more grateful. However, for many it is not the case, and the fear never ceases. The founding LLS Foundation “reported in its 1955 annual report: “As of this date, Leukemia is 100% fatal. This is almost a unique situation among the many diseases to which man is susceptible." Thank God today this is not the case, but it’s not good enough until we find a cure. We hope that my story and the story of many others will help raise awareness and not only increase the five-year relative survival rates, but find a cure.
· Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer
· An estimated combined total of 176,200 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2019.
· New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to account for 10 percent of the estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed in the US in 2019.
· In 2019, 61,780 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia.
· In 2019, 22,840 people are expected to die from leukemia (13,150 males and 9,690 females).
Therefore, your support in helping us achieve our fundraising goal for LLS means the world to us. More than you can imagine. Please help us “nuke the leuk” and other cancers and break revolutionary grounds in cancer research by contributing to help achieve (hopefully surpass) the goal! We are forever grateful. Thank you so much!
As Louis J. DeGennaro, the President & CEO of LLS says, “Beating cancer is in our blood.”
I know this was long, and if you have made it this far and kept reading, bless you.
Ioanna & Grant
**100% of the proceeds will go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in aims of continuing to fund groundbreaking new treatments, research, and patient care. All donations are tax deductible.
**LLS Mission Statement & Focus:
· “will contribute to the mission of “cure leukemia, lymphoma,
Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.”
· “LLS is at the forefront of the fight to cure cancer. Compared to other blood cancer nonprofits, LLS is the largest funder of cutting-edge research to advance cures. We have invested nearly $1.3 billion in research. We are leaders in advancing breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine. This research saves lives. These revolutionary new treatments originally discovered through blood cancer research are now being tested in clinical trials for other cancers.”
· LLS is “the world's largest voluntary (nonprofit) health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services.”