Stolen

I got an unexpected email this week from a gal I met through work a handful of years ago. She’s the kind of woman who seems to always be smiling when she enters a room, always lifts up those around her, and always leaves a room full of smiles in her wake.

Even if she is a saleswoman. 😉

But the email wasn’t work-related—it was strictly, well, personal. But on a community-wide level. You see, formerly unbeknownst to me, Beth Schrader is a cancer survivor. At the age of 25, she was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. And back in 1998, her only treatment option was to have a bone marrow transplant. As the mother of a young daughter, how could she say ‘no’?

I can’t even begin to imagine how scary a time that must have been for her and her family. Thankfully, her treatments were a success, and she’s gone on to remain the vibrant, energizing woman we all know and adore. (And she’s even an OSU Buckeye fan—I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that!)

What makes Beth’s story even more extraordinary is that she’s continued to fight the disease not just for herself, but also for others through education, raising awareness, and fundraising.

Each year, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) launches the Man & Woman of the Year fundraising campaign, its largest single fundraising effort, throughout 60 cities nationwide. And this year Beth has been made a nominee. She’s thrilled to have been given this privilege, and is working hard to give back to an organization so near and dear to her heart.

Following her pursuit to fight the disease for others, Beth has chosen to use her nomination as a way to campaign for Greyson, an adorable three-year-old who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in January, 2012. Her goal during the campaign is to help Greyson, his two siblings, and his two young parents, reclaim some sense of normalcy, in whatever way that might be.

Beth’s story brought to mind fond memories I have of my own grandfather, whom we lost due to complications with Leukemia nearly twenty years ago. He was a kind, quiet man, but oh did he have a heart of gold, a razor-sharp mind, and the patience of Job. And he was stolen from us, long before we were ready to let him go.

Stolen, by cancer.

How many times has that happened within all our families? IS happening within our families? With our friends and neighbors? And when will it stop?

Well it can’t—not without all of our help. We need to spread the word, to educate each other on implementing healthier lifestyles, getting regular check-ups, and funding organizations dedicated to finding cures. There can be no sitting back, waiting for someone else to do it for us.

A few factoids for you:

  • More than one million North Americans are fighting blood cancers; the third leading cause of cancer deaths.
  • Leukemia still causes more deaths among children and young adults under 20 than any other cancer.  
  • LLS is the largest non-profit contributor to blood cancer research, funding nearly 320 projects across the globe.
  • 78.1% of all funding goes directly toward research to find a cure for blood-related and other cancers.

The good news is, progress is being made.

  • 40 years ago, a child’s chance of surviving leukemia was 3%; today 9 out of 10 live.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma patient survival rates have more than doubled to 88% since the 1960’s.
  • Survival rates for myeloma patients tripled in the past decade.

And while that certainly is progress, we are a long, long way from knocking out Leukemia, Lymphoma, and the countless other cancers in our midst. I challenge you to take up the fight against the “C” word, to do what you can to get involved, and, most of all, to spread the word.

To learn more about Beth’s story and how you can support her in this year’s LLS Man & Woman of the Year event, click here.

Please leave a note below, and help cheer Beth on to becoming the future 2013 LLS Woman of the Year.

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