As schools and education communities across the country have had to adjust to a new way of learning online, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients program (www.penniesforpatients.org), a science-based service-learning program for schools, has shifted in-person school learning events to a virtual semi-weekly STEM+ curriculum program to inspire the next generation of scientists and doctors.
Through an educational “Facebook live” video series on LLS’s Facebook page called Hero Squad Live, host Elizabeth Matthews, a campaign manager for the Arizona Chapter at LLS, often referred to as “Ms. Elizabeth,” provides a 15-minute learning activity for children on Tuesdays and Thursday at 2:00 pm ET.
Each episode features a different lesson and activity from the LLS STEM+ Curriculum. Children can complete each exercise along with Elizabeth, ask questions, and even submit their projects to be featured in the next episode.
“I am learning new skills as we go through this process, from implementing new software to being my own producer and video editor — it has been a real exercise for my brain, “ said Elizabeth. “Knowing we are educating and hopefully inspiring the next generations of scientists and doctors really is the cherry on top.”
Elizabeth elaborates on how this idea came to fruition, “I have a performance past and I used to be a musical theatre performer before I made the switch to nonprofit, so with my performer skills, and this amazing curriculum, the idea was born. We know the world is changing, so we have to change with it."
She emphasized, “We have an amazing free and educational STEM that we have been sharing with our partnered schools and districts to help supplement education during these strange times. We knew we just needed to do more."
The adage, “We are all fighting the same storm, but we are not fighting it from the same boat,” is more relevant amidst today’s global pandemic than ever before. This resonates particularly true for cancer patients, who are at increased risk of getting sicker if they contract COVID-19.
“Cancer will not wait for COVID-19 to go away,” says Gwen Nichols, MD, LLS Chief Medical Officer at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global leader in the fight against cancer. “And the patients we serve can’t wait either. Every nine minutes, somebody in the U.S. dies of a blood cancer, and there is no means of prevention — they need us now, more than ever.”
Individuals and communities nationwide are tapping into their inner creativity and survival skills to pivot to, at least for now, a virtual way of living. LLS is also tapping into its rich 70-year history of innovation to solve the most pressing challenges in the cancer arena and reinvent the current methods to fundraise for its lifesaving work.
Its signature fundraisers have helped LLS invest nearly $1.3 billion in cutting edge research worldwide, fueling nearly every critical advancement in blood cancer treatment that spans the most promising treatment approaches now being tested in clinical trials for other cancers and diseases, including COVID-19.
With scheduled in-person fundraising events off the calendar, LLS is encouraging individuals, families and communities across the country to join one of its many virtual fundraising campaigns to make a difference in the fight against cancer and to literally, save lives.
“Every single dollar makes a difference,” says Dr. Nichols. “From the comfort of your home or responsibly, in your own communities, you can still make an impact in the lives of cancer patients. The COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop us from uniting as a force in the fight against cancer, a disease that has impacted us all, for far too long.”
Dr. Nichols shares some of the ways you can get involved:
Big Virtual Climb, LLS’s latest innovation in peer-to-peer fundraising, is your chance to stay fit and connect with others across the nation. On June 13, we will climb virtually up 61 stories and 1,762 steps of San Francisco’s iconic Salesforce Tower as one from coast to coast.
Pennies for Patients is rolling out new free resources for schools in need, including STEM+ activities, tools to support children with social and emotional learning, and Hero Squad Live virtual classes for children on Facebook.
Team In Training offers several virtual endurance training options to choose from so that we can support our teammates and beat cancer to the finish line.
Man & Woman of the Year and Students of the Year campaigns are motivating passionate individuals and teams virtually to raise funds, culminating in incredibly meaningful Grand Finale virtual experiences to celebrate their tireless work and dedication.
Light The Night Walk brings light to the darkness of cancer, and you can be sure LLS will create a new kind of event experience that’s as inspirational as ever to our legions of supporters across the country, to celebrate, honor or remember those touched by cancer.
The funds raised through LLS’s fundraising campaigns are used for:
Research to advance targeted therapies and immunotherapies that are saving thousands of lives;
Blood cancer information, education and support for patients;
Policies that ensure patients have access to blood cancer treatments.
Beat AML in the Time of COVID-19: A Powerful New Video
Like many clinical trials across the U.S. and the globe, The Leukemia & Lymphoma’s Beat AML Master Trial has been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and has had to make adjustments to continue to provide critical treatment to patients who were previously enrolled.
A Groundbreaking Trial
LLS has been leading this first-of-its kind collaboration since 2016 to simultaneously test multiple treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia. The Beat AML Master Trial was launched to address the 40-year practice of treating all patients with the same combination of chemotherapies which simply doesn’t work for many, especially older patients for whom the drugs are highly toxic.
AML is a fast-moving disease with multiple subtypes that needs to be treated quickly once diagnosed; using advanced technology we’ve shown we can rapidly analyze an AML patient’s genetics to identify the mutation driving their subtype of cancer. In Beat AML we’ve shown we can turn around the genetic analysis within an unprecedented seven days and safely make a treatment decision about the right therapy for the right patient.
To date, we’ve screened more than 900 patients, with many of them going on to receive a targeted treatment at one of the 16 cancer centers around the country hosting the trial.
Data shows that patients who were part of the Beat AML study had a lower early mortality compared to patients who elected standard of care, and superior overall survival. In one sub-study, patients’ median survival was 12.8 months vs. 3.9 months for patients with standard of care
Beat AML has set stage for how clinical trials using a precision medicine approach can be done in blood cancers in the future. The trial is changing the paradigm for how AML is treated using a precision medicine approach.