When I was 17, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, my main concern--other than her health--was that she might lose her hair. What I didn’t yet understand was that I would forever be a part of a new community because of cancer.
I found support in a local charity walk, and when I went to college, I led that same walk for over 500 people, raising upwards of $50,000. Raising money for a cause helped me take back cancer’s power, and set me on a path to stop the disease for good.
My mom is doing fabulously (and didn’t lose her hair!), but only a couple of years later, my paternal grandmother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She also kicked it in the butt (go Schnall women!), and she and my mom proudly attended my walk to represent this remarkable group of survivors.
But then, a few short years later, my grandmother was diagnosed again – this time with multiple myeloma, a chronic blood cancer. Thankfully, she is doing incredibly well, but having met many people and families affected by cancer, I know the outcome is not always a good one. I’ve been inspired, touched, and saddened by the battles of so many people of varying ages.
Perhaps the scariest thing about blood cancer, and many cancers, is that we don’t know how they work. But finding out is one of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) main goals, and it’s why I feel so strongly about supporting the organization. LLS funds research and patient services that aim to improve quality of life and find cures. There is no early detection of blood cancer, so LLS prioritizes finding a solution for the aftereffects of diagnosis. It also researches treatments that are much farther reaching than just the treatment of blood cancers.
Thanks to LLS, my 80-year-old grandmother went zip lining with my family last summer. I have never felt more pride than when the young instructor said to us, “Wow, your grandmother is badass!”
I’m trying to channel some of my grandmother’s badass-ness and raise $100,000 for LLS in 10 weeks. It’s a lot of money. It’s a big challenge. And it can’t be done alone. But like my mom and grandma, I won’t accept defeat. So I thank you in advance for supporting the effort. There is no amount too small or too large. Every dollar counts as a vote, so please encourage everyone you know to join the cause. Together, we are Allies For a Cure!