Photo by Nikki Khan/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Here at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), we are devastated to learn of the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. As the global leader in the fight against blood cancer, we stand with the cancer community – and all Americans – in mourning this trailblazer whose contributions to public health and equality will be felt by generations to come.
Justice Ginsburg battled various forms of cancer over the years, including colon, lung, and pancreatic cancer. Even while enduring treatment, she was determined to continue her critical work on the Supreme Court, all while maintaining strength, compassion, and benevolence. Known for her incredible resilience, she spoke openly about her cancer experience, inspiring patients and families everywhere.
Throughout her long and storied career, she was a champion for equality. Our community of blood cancer patients, families, and volunteers is forever grateful for her role siding with the court majority in 2015. By upholding the Affordable Care Act, and through several later decisions, Justice Ginsburg protected patients from discrimination based on their health history – a devastating practice that was common prior to the enactment of that landmark law. The law also marked important progress toward addressing healthcare disparities that impact people of color and other underserved populations, helping to reduce gaps in health insurance coverage and access. Because of her tireless efforts, more cancer patients have been able to access the lifesaving care they need.
Justice Ginsburg leaves an immense legacy. As we mourn her death, we stand committed to honoring her by continuing to fight for patients’ equal access to quality, affordable healthcare. Justice Ginsburg once said, “Real change – enduring change – happens one step at a time.” Together with our patients, volunteers, advocates, caregivers, survivors, families, researchers, and healthcare professionals, we are dedicated to stepping up together to create a world without blood cancer.
In honor of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Gwen Nichols reflects on our vital work to support blood cancer patients and their families.
As Chief Medical Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I often speak with patients and survivors about adjusting to their new normal after a cancer diagnosis or treatment. But finding a new normal looks very different in a world where a global pandemic has impacted every aspect of cancer care and daily life as we know it. COVID-19 is reshaping cancer care in real-time – magnifying the issues patients face already and leaving them with more questions than answers.
Here at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), we believe no one should go through cancer alone. For more than two decades, LLS Information Specialists – master’s level oncology professionals – have been guiding blood cancer patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to our trusted education and support. During these trying times, our Information Specialists continue to provide critical one-on-one support, and importantly, answers: from how to navigate changes in health insurance coverage to how to balance caregiving, work, and childcare at home, to how to cope with added distress and more.
What’s more, we’re hearing from patients whose clinical trial has been paused or who are concerned about traveling to their trial site. LLS Clinical Trial Nurse Navigators – registered nurses with expertise in blood cancers – are providing in-depth support, including help with finding options closer to home. We also offer one-on-one nutrition consultations with a registered dietitian to help patients and caregivers stay well-nourished.
The best part is, our help is free! There are so many ways you can find the support you need right from the comfort of your home. Our Information Specialists are ready to help you and your loved ones at 800-955-4572 or by email/chat here. And while your new normal might be anything but, I encourage you to stay on track with your appointments, embrace telemedicine and make time for self-care. Remember, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do right now.
Cancer will not wait for COVID-19 to go away. And blood cancer patients can’t wait either. In fact, they need support now, more than ever. Because of dedicated volunteers and partners like United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), LLS is still able to carry out our lifesaving work in communities across the country, even amidst a global pandemic.
UFCW is one of North America’s largest labor organizations with more than 1.3 million members and has been a powerful voice for LLS since the partnership began in 1982. UFCW has raised more than $94 million for LLS’s goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
Led by the members of UFCW, Labor Against Cancer is a movement to end the devastation of cancer through fundraising drives among members, empowering them to band together for the good of others in the communities where they work and live.
“Labor Against Cancer not only reflects our union family’s growing commitment to the communities we live and work in, but to the cause of finding a cure for blood cancers,” said Marc Perrone, UFCW International President. “Whether you are a union member or not, we are determined to do our part to ensure that no one fighting cancer will struggle alone. Our partnership is a testament to our members and what can be accomplished when we all unite together.”