This year, LLS received a three-year grant to fund a new intervention study by Carma Bylund, PhD, University of Florida, and her research team that aims to improve family and healthcare communication among adults who care for a parent with blood cancer. This work builds upon in-depth qualitative research completed by Dr. Bylund and LLS in 2018, which identified unique communication challenges faced by these caregivers. Both research studies were funded by the Carolan Research Institute. We sat down with Dr. Bylund to ask her about her work…
Dr. Carma Bylund (purple shirt) and her research team at the University of Florida.
Q. In 2018, you conducted qualitative interviews by phone with individuals who cared for either a child or parent with blood cancer. What were some interesting findings?
It was interesting that most of the respondents were around the same age – an average age of 43. We uncovered many differences and similarities among the groups. Both spoke about the personal rewards of caregiving, including gaining more perspective, feeling empowered, and developing more compassion. They also shared challenges including the impact of caregiving on their work, career and finances.
Many caregivers reported challenges of finding appropriate information online, and feeling overwhelmed or confused. Caregivers of parents reported calling LLS, but caregivers of children relied more heavily on information from their healthcare team.
Caregivers of children emphasized how their child’s cancer affected their personal well-being and some of the difficulties of interacting with their sick child. It seemed harder for them to discuss and accept the cancer diagnosis and prognosis. Caregivers of parents focused on “role reversal” and the ability to give back to their parents who cared for them. While caregivers of children are already living in the same home, caregivers of parents often had to relocate. The caregivers of parents expressed greater impact on the structure of their lives, and reported conflict with siblings in negotiating caregiver roles.
Q. You plan to conduct an LLS-funded intervention study to uncover ways to improve family and healthcare communication for caregivers of parents. What are your goals?
In the intervention study, caregivers of parents will receive an online training hosted on www.LLS.org. Our goal is to address some of the issues within families when adults care for their parents, including the impact on their family system and conflicts with siblings. We also aim to improve information seeking by enhancing online literacy and focusing on teaching caregivers how to look up information online and speak to the patient’s doctor about it.
Want to learn more about how LLS supports caregivers? Click here!
“Women have the power and when we join together, we can make all the difference.”
With those words, Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer at WWE, captured the theme of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Women Curing Cancer” initiative, which brings together philanthropic women to move collectively the needle in cancer cures and access to treatments.
On Wednesday, Stephanie joined LLS’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gwen Nichols, and LLS volunteer Julie Guillot, who lost her 9-year-old son to acute myeloid leukemia, in a powerful and personal panel discussion about their commitment to fighting pediatric cancer. They were joined by about 50 philanthropic women at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., to listen to the panel and network over a common goal to drive more research and help for patients with cancer.
In a discussion moderated by Fox Sports anchor Lindsey Czarniak, the women shared their personal stories and desire to change the paradigm of treatment and care for children with cancer.
Stephanie spoke of the collaboration that WWE and their Superstar Roman Reigns have launched with LLS to generate awareness and support for research to find new and better treatments while enhancing support and care for children with cancer. WWE is leveraging its global platforms, including TV broadcasts, live events, WWE Network and digital and social media to support LLS’s Children’s Initiative.
She also spoke of her personal commitment to philanthropy and how her passion for helping children with cancer is aligned with the priorities of LLS, which is why the partnership is so important to her.
Dr. Nichols described The LLS Children’s Initiative, a multifaceted program to increase LLS’s investment in pediatric cancer research grants, expand education and support services for children and families, and launch a global master precision medicine clinical trial in pediatric acute leukemia. She emphasized the urgent need to do more for children and why it’s been such a challenge to develop new therapies for children. Only four cancer drugs have been approved for first use in children over several decades while scores have been approved for adults.
Julie, who is volunteering with LLS to bring in new partners to support The LLS Children’s Initiative, spoke of the devastating loss of her son, Zach, to AML, after brutal rounds of treatment and why she chose to help LLS. She said it would take a significant collaboration and “you need the force of a big organization like LLS to drive forward therapies.”
Earlier in the day, Stephanie, Dr. Nichols, and the two founders of Women Curing Cancer, Evelyn Bata, a clinical counselor, University of Maryland University College professor, and an advocate for women’s and children’s issues, and LLS National Board Member Lynne O’Brien, a policy analyst and government affairs expert, formerly with the White House Cancer Moonshot under Vice President Joe Biden, participated in a morning news segment on FOX5DC.
The women who have joined the “Women Curing Cancer” movement have committed to donating at least $100,000 to support the LLS mission. The group is dedicated to supporting programs like The LLS Children’s Initiative and LLS’s Career Development Program, a grants program supporting blood cancer researchers at a critical juncture early in their careers.
To learn more about Women Curing Cancer, contact Christy.Plunkett@lls.org, director of advancement of the LLS National Capital Chapter.
Walgreens, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Susan G. Komen collaborate to research tough-to-treat cancers and increase access to care
In an effort to improve the health and well-being of people living with cancer nationwide, Walgreens announced its pledge to contribute more than $25 million to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and Susan G. Komen, collectively, over the next five years. Through a combination of corporate donations and in-store fundraising, the commitment will enable new research in metastatic breast and pediatric blood cancers, as well as increase access, treatment and support services for those living with these diseases.
Donations and funds raised for LLS will accelerate the delivery of cancer treatment advances to pediatric patients and help patients, caregivers and survivors with the financial, emotional and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment. Patients like 13-year-old Josh Ribeiro of Jacksonville Beach, FL, know firsthand the urgent need to raise funds for lifesaving treatment.
In October 2018, Josh was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He immediately underwent intense treatment, which came with countless trips to the hospital and multiple side effects, including short term memory loss. He even had to miss his entire sixth grade year in school. But Josh never gives up hope.
“Josh has had a lot of ups and downs throughout his treatment,” said his mom, Nerissa. “But he still wakes up every day knowing that he can beat cancer.”
Josh is still in treatment, which he’ll continue for another three years.
Blood cancers and breast cancer are complex to treat and remain prevalent in the United States. Currently, nearly 1.4 million are living with or in remission from blood cancer in the U.S. and more than 3.8 million people living in the U.S. today have been treated for or are living with breast cancer.
Walgreens customers can help support cancer research and the cancer community by donating to LLS during checkout at the more than 9,500 U.S. Walgreens retail pharmacy locations November 3 through 17.