In The News

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Host Light The Night Walk on Saturday, October 4  

Five Things You Need to Know About Blood Cancers and One Thing You Can Do

NAPLES, FL September 29, 2014 – Every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with, or in remission from, these diseases. Certain forms of these diseases are the most common types of cancer in children and adolescents younger than 20 years. Almost 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with these cancers this year. There are few, if any means of preventing or early screening for these cancers.

You might be surprised to learn that these statistics refer to blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. 
That’s why The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is ramping up efforts to create urgency for our quest to find cures for blood cancers and ensure patients have access to treatments, with a public call to action during September, Blood Cancer Awareness Month, to raise $300,000 in 30 days.

The Southern Florida Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is kicking-off its annual Light the Night Walk fundraising event in Southwest Florida with the goal to raise money for research and educate the public about blood cancers. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 4, 5pm to 8pm, at Centennial Park along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers, FL.

To register for this event, visit

“As the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to finding blood cancer cures and advocating for patients and families, LLS is in a unique position to make a positive impact in cancer research overall, specifically blood cancers,” states Steven F. Belcher, Chairman of the Southwest Florida Advisory Council. “The Southern Florida Chapter of LLS and our many volunteers and patient advocates are on the front lines everyday in our fight to the finish line of blood cancer cures.”

According to Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS interim president & CEO and chief mission officer, “In our 65 year history, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance cancer therapies and save lives. Survival rates since the early 1960s have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled, thanks to research and access to better treatments. But there is more work to be done.

Despite this progress, more than one third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. To achieve our goal of a world without bloodcancers, we must do more to invest in research to find cures. We need your help.”

Other LLS blood cancer facts that might surprise you:

  • Stem cell transplantation was first used as a treatment for leukemia patients.
  • LLS helped advance therapies for myeloma and lymphoma patients, and some of these drugs are also being tested for patients with other cancers.
  • Nearly 40 percent of new cancer therapies approved by the FDA between 2000 and 2013 were first approved for blood cancer patients.
  • LLS has helped advance laws in more than half of the states to ensure coverage and payment parity for cancer medications, regardless of how or where administered.

“Since the early 1960s we have achieved tremendous progress in improving survival rates for many blood cancer patients,” states DeGennaro.  “In that time, cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL jumped from 3 percent in 1964 to approximately 90 percent in 2014.”

“Join us in the fight against blood cancers,” urges DeGennaro. “Patients desperately need new therapies not someday, but today.  So please don’t wait. Raise your hand. Declare your support.  Donate now and help us reach our goal to raise $300,000 in 30 days during Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Help us make someday, today, for patients with blood cancers.” Donate today!
Do more than raise awareness of blood cancer this month; help LLS reach our goal of $300,000 in 30 days. Visit, donate and help save lives.

About Blood Cancers
– Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasmsare types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. These diseases are related in the sense that they may all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell. With blood cancers, abnormal cells multiply and survive without the usual controls that are in place for healthy cells. The accumulation of these cells in the marrow, blood or lymphatic tissue interferes with production and functioning of red cells, white cells and platelets. The disease process can lead to severe anemia, bleeding, an impaired ability to fight infection, or death.

About the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
–The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

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For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Pete E Cento, Southwest Florida Advisory Council

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Southwest Florida Advisory Council
(239) 287-0805 Cell Phone |




Hope and Help for Those with Blood Cancers

By Doris Lemcke

 Some of the members of The Southwest Florida Advisory Council of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society meeting recently included Steven F. Belcher, Chairman, Angie Marsh, Dawn Parker, and on-going survivor and council member Melissa Godfrey.  Staff |

Some of the members of The Southwest Florida Advisory Council of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society meeting recently included Steven F. Belcher, Chairman, Angie Marsh, Dawn Parker, and on-going survivor and council member Melissa Godfrey.  Staff |


Blood cancer, most commonly known as leukemia and lymphoma, is among our most mysterious and deadly diseases, with no known cause, no diagnostic techniques for early detection, no warning, and symptoms that often delay diagnosis until other more common and less severe illnesses have been ruled out.

But while the cause of blood cancer is a mystery, science has made great strides in finding a cure. In fact, over the last twenty years, advances in chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and drug therapies have saved countless lives and contributed to successful “cross-over” treatment options for other cancers and immune disorders.

Stephen Belcher, a local resident and businessman, as well as a two-time survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (2006 and 2011), says he’s “Living testimony to the success of research in the field of blood disease treatment.” As a long-time volunteer for the Southern Florida and Puerto Rico Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and just one year out of his second debilitating recovery period, he’s again taken an active role in promoting the organization’s mission to, “Cure Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and Myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.”

This month, the LLS announced that Belcher will serve as Chairman for the organization’s Southwest Florida Advisory Council. The nine-member council consists of business and community volunteers whose lives have been touched by the disease, individually or through family members or close friends, and those who feel strongly that there will one day be a cure.

In addition to those pictured here, Council members include Jennifer Alvarez, Beth Oliver, Pete E Cento, Barbara Daley and Elizabeth Morris.

The council’s mission is to inform and educate the public and community leaders about fundraising opportunities, education and advocacy programs available to area cancer patients and their families. Partnering with the Hollywood based Southern Florida & Puerto Rico Chapter of LLS, they’ll provide area health care professionals, individuals and families with expert training and support programs that include: “The First Connection Program” for newly diagnosed patients, family and online support groups, financial aid programs and Back to School programs for children.

One event in the planning stages is similar to the successful, “Light the Night Walk,” a three hour evening walk that brings families and communities together to honor blood cancer survivors and fighters, as well as to fund this life-or-death battle with the disease.

When asked why these already very active members of our local businesses and residential communities chose to volunteer for this groundbreaking project, Pete Cento echoed Belcher to say, “It’s about giving back,” to the community and the people working so hard to, “Fight for a cure”. It’s also about giving forward— to those who will need help in the future or will benefit from the discovery of a cure.


For more information visit or call 954-744-5300.


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