A family member is a survivor of childhood leukemia. I have heard his story over the years and marveled at how these children get through the things they have to endure. He was treated for leukemia between the ages of 4 and 9 at the City of Hope, which was wonderful to him and his family.
I called him in preparation for this blog post, and he recalled how scary it was for a 4-year-old to be in the hospital with endless blood tests and spinal taps. Those were the days of parents having to leave the hospital by 9:00 or 9:30 p.m., and he was there alone being aroused in the middle of the night by nurses for vital signs and procedures. (I'm so glad that has changed in most hospitals!) He recalled having bad dreams, going bald twice, and endless nausea. When he was "healthy" enough to go to school, he remembers his legs feeling like rubber and having to crawl off the asphalt to line up for class while the teacher yelled at him for not being fast enough. He talked about how traumatized he was by this disease for a long time. His friend died from leukemia at the age of 7 or 8. The boys lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same elementary school, and were both treated in the same hospital. One lived; one died.
Having raised children with some health problems (while not nearly as serious as leukemia), I can't begin to imagine the parental torture of watching a child live with things like this on a daily basis.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow where blood cells are formed. Blood cells produced in the bone marrow grow out of control. There are different kinds of leukemia and related disorders. If you are interested in finding out more about the disease, click here.
Why Am I Blogging About Leukemia?
The daughter of a friend of mine (our children grew up as friends) is working on a very ambitious goal. She will be participating in the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco on October 14, 2012. This marathon benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Elizabeth has committed to raise $5,000 for the cause and will be in a training program for the next 5 1/2 months.
Is This An Efficient Charity?
I did a little homework on this charity. According to their official financial information, 78.1% of their budget goes to program services. I checked to see how that rates with other charities. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, 60% or above is a reasonable amount for program services, with 75% or above considered highly efficient for a charity.
Can We Help Eliminate Blood Disease?
Medical advances are made every day. We read about them all the time. I'm sure, in time, there will be a cure for these horrible blood diseases. It won't happen without us. Elizabeth is doing her part. Can we help her? If you would like to donate to a good cause, or to follow Elizabeth's progress with the marathon training program, you can go to her fundraising page. The best way to donate is by clicking her fundraising page. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your donation, and Elizabeth will receive notice of the donation.
I'm very proud of Elizabeth. This is not an easy thing for her to do. It takes commitment and will power to do something like this. I know that when October comes, the experience will have changed her in many ways.