Many of us probably know one of the estimated 1.4 million people in the US who is living with, or in remission from a blood cancer, or one of the approximately 176,000 people who will be diagnosed with a blood cancer this year. Those of us who have lived this story already know how difficult it can be, and how important support from family, friends, and co-workers is. But where can you turn to for support, or how can you support someone battling a blood cancer?
Some of the answers to those questions are what has led us at The Rob Branham Foundation to begin our new feature - Blood Cancer Connections. Through posts, we aim to help people connect to support through a variety of different avenues, whether you’re a patient, family member, or friend needing support, or you’re looking to give support to someone.
He was like a bolt of lightning surrounded by a ray of sunlight. His infectious grin, twinkling eyes and warm personality were magnetic. Filled with endless energy, his friends lovingly called him “Mr. Positive.” Once you met him...you could never forget him.
Rob was raised in Stamford, and lived the last 17 years of his life in Simsbury. He was an avid runner and water skier, loved music, and collected antique radios and televisions. He began his broadcasting career in high school, and worked at leading radio and television stations throughout Connecticut. Rob’s honesty and integrity built him a reputation as a hard-working, well-respected salesman.
He proudly worked for 10 years as a volunteer reader for the blind on the Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS). He also participated in various fundraisers sponsored by Fidelco, the Advertising Club of CT, and the Leukemia Society.
Rob’s international search for a non-related marrow donor sparked great interest in and compassion for other people stricken with leukemia who were not as fortunate to find donors. He made a pledge to himself that, after his recovery, he would actively work to recruit potential bone marrow donors, especially for minority populations.
Rob was diagnosed with leukemia in January 1992. After a year and a half search for a non-related donor, Rob underwent a bone marrow transplant at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. The transplant was successful, and on September 3, 1993, Rob went home to begin his recovery. During this time, unexpected complications arose, which eventually claimed Rob’s life on October 12, 1993, at the young age of 43.
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RAISE A PAW AGAINST LEUKEMIA
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I understand that there are inherent risks associated with exposing an animal(s) in a dog/animal show environment including, but not limited to, contact with other dogs/animals who may be carrying contagious organisms, or dogs/animals who may become aggressive in this situation. I also understand that there is a significant risk of introducing infectious disease when bringing in dogs/animals from another location that may not be of the same health status as the "home" location, especially if introduced without an appropriate isolation/quarantine time period. I assume full responsibility for any risk, loss, property damage, and/or personal injury that may be sustained by me, and/or any loss or damage to my dog/animal and/or any property owned by me as a result of my attendance at Raise A Paw Against Leukemia 2019.
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By signing this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement, I state that I have read and understand the conditions set forth in this release and that I agree to all conditions set forth herein, and that I sign this voluntarily with full knowledge that I am forfeiting certain legal rights.
September is Blood Cancer Awareness month…. How much do you know about these cancers and their impact? Learn some basics, and then join our upcoming conversation about how you can support families fighting blood cancers…..
One of the hardest periods of my life began that January day in 1992, when Rob and I got the confirmed diagnosis of leukemia. My heart sank, weighed down by fear of what was ahead. But, encouraged by Rob’s oncologist, we began learning about drug protocols that would keep him stabilized, and the process for finding a non-related donor for a bone marrow transplant. The one thing we didn’t talk about at the time, which neither of us even thought about, was what kind of support we might need to get through it all…..
Rob’s support came from the very small circle of people he chose to tell about his condition…. His 3 closest friends, 2 colleagues at work, and his mother. We knew no one who had lived this nightmare…. Where else could we turn to to share our experiences and gain support? There was no internet, and hence, no on-line support groups, hospital-run support groups ran on schedules that didn’t fit our needs, and we knew no one who had lived this nightmare. We did the best we could with our close friends and family, but for the longest time I felt isolated.
My first ‘real’ support system came from Faith, someone who was also living my nightmare, as it turned out, and who lived close by. Her husband Dom and Rob met in Boston when they were both in the hospital for pre-transplant procedures, and discovered they lived in the same area of CT and were going to be in the hospital at the same time. The four of us got together in the early summer of 1993, becoming acquainted and realizing that we could support each other. When Dom and Rob entered the hospital, Faith and I sought each other out, comparing our days, what our husbands were going through, and how we were feeling about it all. Knowing that I had someone to talk with who really understood my situation helped make a difficult situation bearable. To this day, I know that if I ever need her support about this, she’s there for me.
What, then, does it take to provide emotional support to a patient or family member battling a blood cancer? What’s your story? Have you or a family member needed support through a time like this? If so, where did you find what you needed? What advice would you give someone else in need of emotional support while fighting a blood cancer?
Share your thoughts and help others make a blood cancer connection…..
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the lymph system. The lymph system is part of the immune system. In this type of lymphoma, tumors start for a cell type called lymphocytes. They are a form of white blood cell.
In 2018, the estimated number of new Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cases was 74,680 in the US. In the US, 71.4% of patients survive after 5 years or more of being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This means out of 100 patients with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, about 71 patients have survived the disease for 5 years or more.
There are certain factors that increase the chances of having Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
There are certain symptoms and signs associated with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. These include painless enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin, belly discomfort/swelling, pain in a patient’s trunk, shortness of breath, coughing, feeling tired all the time, higher body temperature, sweating at night, unplanned loss of weight.
There are certain tests that a doctor might use to see if a patient has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The treatment options for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include the following:
“Cancer Stat Facts: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.” National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, 2019, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/nhl.html
“Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2019.
Web links about Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000581.htm
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a disease of the lymph system. The lymph system is a part of the immune system. This disease is caused by irregular cells in the lymph system. The irregular cells do not grow like normal lymph cells.
In 2018, the estimated number of new Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cases was 8,500 in the US. In the US, 86.6% of patients survive after 5 years or more of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This means out of 100 patients with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, about 87 patients have survived the disease for 5 years or more.
The things that raise the chances of having Hodgkin's lymphoma include:
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma include: swelling lymph nodes in the neck-groin or underarm, constant feeling of tiredness, increases in temperature, sweating at night, unplanned loss of weight, irritated and scratchy skin, effects of alcohol are more pronounced, and pain after alcohol consumption near lymph nodes.
Based on a patient’s personal/familial medical history, a doctor may conduct tests to establish if there is a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
“Cancer Stat Facts: Hodgkin Lymphoma.” National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, 2019, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/hodg.html .
“Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease).” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education
and Research, 2019.
Myeloma is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. Specifically, it affects the plasma cells. Plasma cells create antibodies. These antibodies help a patient’s body find germs and fight off infection.
Myeloma occurs when unhealthy or cancer cells gather in bone marrow. These cancer cells overcrowd the normal blood cells. The cancer cells cannot make normal antibodies, instead they make irregular proteins. These irregular proteins can cause problems in the body.
In 2018, the estimated number of new myeloma cases of 30,770 in the US. In the US, 50.7% of patients survive after 5 Years or more of being diagnosed with myeloma. This means out of 100 patients with myeloma, about 50 patients have survived the disease for 5 years or more.
Factors that can increase your chances of having myeloma include:
The signs and symptoms myeloma can be different for every person. There may not be signs early on for patients with myeloma. When and if there are symptoms, a patient might experience bone aches, nausea, constipation, a loss of appetite/hunger, foggy thoughts or confusion, fatigue, repeated infections, patients may feel more thirsty than usual, patients may lose weight, legs may feel weak or numb.
There are several tests that can help diagnosis myeloma. Some of these tests may be conducted by your provider if they suspect Myeloma. Your doctor may find myeloma by coincidence with some routine tests. These tests include:
Before a transplant there are a few steps that are taken. Progenitor or Stem blood cells are collected. Chemotherapy is then used to kill off the sickly bone marrow cells. The healthy stem cells are then injected back into the body and help to recreate healthy bone marrow cells.
“Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma.” National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute, 2019, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html
“Multiple-Myeloma.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-myeloma/symptoms-causes/syc-20353378 .
Web links about Myleloma:
Patient education: Multiple myeloma symptoms, diagnosis, and staging (Beyond the Basics)
Plasma Cell Neoplasms (Including Multiple Myeloma)—Patient Version
What Is Multiple Myeloma?
SAVE THE DATE!
SUNDAY, MARCH 17TH | 4-7PM
Enjoy an evening of Bowling (with or without Brews, we'll leave that up to you!) on St. Patty's Day, Sunday, March 17th to benefit The Rob Branham Foundation.
136 New Britain Ave, Plainville, CT 06062
Tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for children 12 and under
Ticket price includes:
Event Sponsorships Available!
Partner with The Rob Branham Foundation for our annual St. Patrick's Day event, Bowl & Brews! For more information contact Carol Reilly.