Fighting a blood cancer takes courage and determination. Winning the battle often inspires the patient to help others who face similar battles. Meet Fabian Bolin, a leukemia survivor, who’s determined to use social media to help improve support for, and the mental health of, those impacted by cancer.
At the age of 28, my career was skyrocketing but I always knew working at that pace would come at a price.
I was living in London at the time and had planned to return to Sweden for a few weeks to visit family and friends during the summer, so I ignored my body's complaints. In the days leading up to my departure to Sweden, my physical condition drastically deteriorated. I was sweating uncontrollably and my thigh lymph nodes were aching. Suspecting a serious bout of the flu I attributed the pain to my body telling me I was overdoing it.
Once in Sweden, the pain crept up to my chest, making it difficult for me to breathe. I knew something was wrong – I had to get myself to the hospital. After a large number of tests, I was informed that I had leukaemia. My world fell apart.
I felt so utterly sad and confused. How unfair that I should have to go through this hell of a treatment, after fighting so hard to reach this stage in life and be on the cusp of fulfilling my acting dreams.
I decided after my first ever chemotherapy session that although there was a risk I might not survive, I was not going to give up on living the life I loved so much. I decided that I wanted to share my story and my fight. That I would write about the treatment, take photos and videos (yes, I would go bald), and share how I felt. Hopefully, I could inspire some people and help others in similar situations.
Little did I know what epic journey this would take me on.
The message I wrote of my diagnosis was shared over 12,000 times on Facebook and led to over 100,000 messages, e-mails and letters of support. My blog and my story continued to be read by thousands. I recognised the power and potential of storytelling, and combining it with a strong urge to empower others affected – the idea of WarOnCancer was born.
Fast-forward to 2019 and my life has completely changed. I am no longer that party boy pursuing a career in acting. Instead I am cancer-free, humbled and living a life where I can help enrich and support those who are affected by cancer.
I am now the CEO of WarOnCancer We’ve just launched the WarOnCancer app, it’s a social networking app for patients, survivors and loved ones – a niche community for cancer. Read my next blog to find out more about the WarOnCancer app.
Fall is a wonderful time of year, bringing the excitement of the upcoming holidays, special times with family and friends, and celebrations. But for families fighting blood cancers, the patient’s treatment, and the stress the family faces, can drain the excitement from the holiday season. This is a time when kindness of others, as explained in this article in the Journal of Oncology Practice, can play a major role in cancer care. What acts of kindness can YOU do for a family fighting blood cancer?
Raise A Paw 2019 is presented by Northwest Community Bank
The dog days of summer will be behind us, but Raise a Paw Against Leukemia will be the event of the fall for dogs and their people. iHeart Media will again be
running pre-event commercials and be at the event!
Location: Simsbury Meadows, 22 Iron Horse Blvd., Simsbury, CT
Date: Sunday, October 6, 2019; 10 AM - 2 PM
Cost: $5 (children 12 and under, free) to benefit families fighting leukemia and other blood cancers in Connecticut
Raise a Paw 2019 will include several exciting and fun features:
● Vendor Fair
● Dog Walk and Fun Agility Course for dogs and their owners
● Pet Pictures
● Pet Art
● Food Trucks
● And More!
Raise a Paw is not only a great event for people, their dogs, and businesses; it’s
also a fundraising event for The Rob Branham Foundation, a CT charity that
provides financial assistance to CT families fighting leukemia and other blood
cancers. Over the past decade, this critical support for families has helped them
pay their mortgage or rent, utility and insurance bills, and provide groceries for
their families as they deal with the daily stresses of a potentially fatal disease.
Help us ‘Raise a Paw’ against leukemia and other blood cancers - hope to see you and your dog there!
A variety of sponsorship levels are available including advertising in the event program guide.
Booth Space available – $50 for businesses and $25 for nonprofits!
Questions? Contact Carol Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org
As president of The Rob Branham Foundation, I’ve worked with a lot of families fighting blood cancer, and one thing that really has struck me is their reluctance to ask for help. They don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I get it… we all like to be independent and handle the challenges life throws at us. But friends and colleagues like to help, so we’d like to share some simple things you can do to support a patient in little ways that can make a big difference. Take a look at our suggestions for patient support…. and let us know other ways to help!
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.
You must sign the release to participate or attend Raise A Paw Against Leukemia. By participating or attending Raise A Paw Against Leukemia you are acknowledging that your participation is entirely at your own discretion and risk.
RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT
RAISE A PAW AGAINST LEUKEMIA
PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY. It affects any rights you may have if you and/or your dog and/or any other animal you own are injured or otherwise suffer damages while attending Raise A Paw Against Leukemia 2019.
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.
I hereby RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, WAIVE, DISCHARGE AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE the The Rob Branham Foundation, Inc., the organizers of Raise A Paw Against Leukemia 2019, and any of the officers, servants, agents and/or employees of the above-mentioned individuals and/or entities (hereinafter referred to as RELEASEES) for any liability, claim and/or cause of action arising out of, or related to, any loss, damage and/or injury, including death, that occurs as a result of attending Raise A Paw Against Leukemia 2019.
I agree TO INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE RELEASEES, whether the injury or damages are caused by my negligence, the negligence of the RELEASEES, and/or the negligence of any third party. I further agree that this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement shall bind the members of my family and spouse, if I am alive, and my heirs, assigns and personal representatives (if any), if I am deceased, and shall be deemed as a RELEASE, WAIVER, DISCHARGE AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE the above-named RELEASEES. I hereby further agree that this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement shall be construed in
accordance with the laws of the State of Connecticut.
If any portion of this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement is held to be invalid or unenforceable, or excessively broad, I agree that the remaining covenants and restrictions or portions thereof shall remain in full force and effect to the fullest degree possible to achieve the purpose of this Release and Hold Harmless Agreement and to afford the Releasees the maximum protections allowed by law. I agree that the Court shall construe any invalid or unenforceable provisions in the manner that most closely reflects the effect and intent of the original language.
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…..