With each passing month we find new reasons to celebrate. Perhaps you are celebrating a spring birthday, going to start classes in the fall, or accepting a new summer job that you cannot wait to get started. Each month brings new life, a chance to recharge and being again. And now, more than ever before, each month has designated a cause with a stage and voice to those suffering from various chronic illnesses. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to raising funds for blood cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma (cancer specific to the abnormal proliferation of plasma cells) to support innovative research to help find cures, provide support for patients through non-profits such as Lymphoma Research Foundation and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and shed light on the daily physical and emotional struggles of living with these chronic illnesses.
To fully appreciate Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we must first understand blood cancers. Cancer, at its base definition, is a disease in which cells abnormally divide and destroy tissues. Common cancers of of the blood pertain to the vital white blood cells, or the immunological cells of the body. You would think that more white blood cells means more defense against foreign pathogens, but this sometimes deathly proliferation causes tissue damage to the organs in which they are housed (i.e. lymph nodes) and sometimes other tissues and systems at large should it metastasize (or spread). The cancerous cells also crowd out and block the action of the normal, healthy white blood cells leaving the patient susceptible to foreign pathogens. Let’s break down two specific white blood cancers: lymphoma and leukemia. Lymphoma is the cancer affecting the lymphatic system that has two types: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin (also known as NHL). Named for the scientist behind the discovery, Hodgkin lymphoma is identified by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, large, almost giant cells derived from B cell lymphocytes. Hodgkin is one of the most curable types of cancer with easily identifiable cells like the RS Cells and Hodgkin Cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is marked by lymphocyte proliferation in B, T, and NK cells that are indolent (slow growing) or aggressive (fast growing). Since there many subsets of NHL (over 30), it is harder to target and ward off its progression. Treatments for both NHL and Hodgkin lymphoma include chemotherapy, radiation, and sometimes stem cell therapy. Leukemia, a type of blood cancer found in the blood and bone marrow, has two main categories, lymphocytic and myelogenous, that present in the acute or chronic phase (ALL, AML, CLL, CML). The difference in these leukemias is the type of cells in question: marrow cells that become lymphocytes (lymphocytic leukemia) and marrow cells that are multipotent and can grow into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets (myelogenous leukemia). Although no direct cause has been attributed to the development of leukemia, certain cases of overexposure to radiation and or certain chemicals has been identified with a positive diagnosis.
Non-profit companies such as Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) are active in the pursuit of a cure. The LRF dedicates its mission to the eradication and community support of lymphomas. It provides funds for research such as the Young Investigators Grant to support the early training of scientists and Disease-Focus Areas Grants for senior scientists. The LRF also supports community efforts for disease-specific education and financial aid programs for those patients and families suffering from lymphomas. The LLS widens its berth of support by branching out to the lymphomas as well as leukemias. Its mission is subdivided into three main categories: research, patient access, and policy and advocacy. The LLS even has Therapy Acceleration Programs (TAP) to help fund research projects related to advancing therapies and diagnostic test kits for leukemias and lymphomas.
Just one day after World Lymphoma Awareness Day (Sept 15th), we remember that each day is a day to celebrate for those battling and conquering blood cancers. PPA supports the mission of these non-profits by providing superior blood and plasma samples to support research. Without PPA, these research projects would not have the diagnostic tools to perform research and advance therapies to make life easier for patients like those suffering from blood cancers. PPA Research Group’s new leukapheresis procedure, a unique and specific technique used for the procurement of white blood cells, can provide the necessary healthy white blood cells for diagnostic testings for these research projects and your donation can make all the difference. Leukapheresis is a new way to give and you can get started today. Give PPA a call at 423-477-6138 or opt-in for our newsletter by contacting .