Blood cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, affects countless individuals and families across New York, and despite medical advancements, the incidence of blood cancer remains a significant concern.
It is imperative that we, as a community, rally together to raise awareness and foster an environment that encourages innovative therapies and treatments. Through the collective efforts of elected officials, the healthcare community, and society at large, we can bring hope to those battling blood cancer.
My personal battle with cancer seven years ago was a shocking wake-up call.
As a survivor, I find the statistics regarding blood cancer in New York deeply troubling. According to the American Cancer Society, New York consistently ranks fourth across all blood cancer types in the number of estimated new cases expected in 2023.
Even more disheartening is the fact that nearly 2,000 New Yorkers are projected to lose their battles by the end of this year. These numbers reflect a pressing need for heightened attention and proactive measures to combat blood cancer effectively.
Creating an environment that prioritizes innovative therapies and new treatments is crucial in the fight against all blood cancers. For example, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has championed the need for change regarding pediatric cancer treatments. Children with cancer experience the same degree of treatment as adults.
The LLS ‘Dare To Dream Initiative’ has earmarked $175 million towards changing this. There is also a collective effort to raise funds through community engagement in partnership with corporate sponsors such as LLS’ signature “Light The Night” event, where thousands of people affected by cancer gather to hold lanterns high, with different colors honoring survivors, supporters, as well as loved ones lost to cancer.
Elected officials play a significant role in this endeavor. By advocating for increased funding and resources for research, they can empower scientists and clinicians to explore novel approaches and develop breakthrough treatments.
Furthermore, the greater healthcare community – from academic institutions and hospitals…to pharmaceutical companies – all are crucial players in fostering a supportive environment that can ensure better outcomes for patients and increase their chances of survival.
Step one in making any change is raising awareness and that is something we can all do. Community outreach programs and educational campaigns help inform individuals about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with blood cancer.
Empowering people with knowledge and encouraging early detection can lead to timely intervention and improved survival rates.
It’s equally important to emphasize the need for regular blood donations, as these contributions are essential for patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.
In the face of rising blood cancer incidence, we must unite to create an environment that fosters innovation and supports patients.
Let us stand together to make that difference for patients who are in the battle for their lives. We owe it to them and to each other.
For more information on how you can help, please visit https://www.lightthenight.org/events/long-island
Ray Schwetz is the AVP of Business Banking at Jovia Financial Credit Union. He lives in Merrick with his wife and three children.