How One Primary Color Helps Support People with Lymphoma

From Taiwan to Texas, Australia to Arkansas, buildings across the globe will Light it Red for World Lymphoma Awareness Day.

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Peggy Ann Torney, MS, chief strategy, communications and engagement officer for the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), shares more about the genesis of the Light it Red for Lymphoma (LIR) campaign, what she wants others to know about lymphoma and the many activities supporting people with lymphoma and their loved ones during Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

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Peggy Ann Torney, MS, Lymphoma Research Foundation

What do you wish others knew about lymphoma?

Nearly one million people in the United States are living with, or in remission from, a form of lymphoma. In fact, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) each year. Despite these staggering statistics, many people have never heard of lymphoma until they are or a family member is diagnosed. That’s why raising public awareness of lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer, is so important.
 

How did Light it Red for Lymphoma get started?

Due in large part to the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s Advocacy Program, September was designated National Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) by the United States Congress in 2010. The Foundation created Light it Red for Lymphoma to commemorate BCAM and World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD), celebrated annually on September 15, and encourage individuals, businesses, buildings and landmarks to shed a light on lymphoma. It was a collective way to raise awareness about this type of blood cancer and give hope to those who have been affected by this disease.
 

How many buildings will light it red this year? Any favorites for you?

It is really incredible to reflect on the growth of this campaign from its conception to such an inspiring global campaign. I am proud to say that this year marks the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s most successful Blood Cancer Awareness Month to date. We have more than 100 national and international partners committed to Light it Red for Lymphoma during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, including one of the world’s most recognizable skyscrapers – One World Trade in New York. We are grateful for the support of all our partners and encouraged by our shared mission to change the future for those impacted by blood cancer.
 

What are the highlights of the campaign for you?

Buildings and landmarks across the globe commit to lighting their facades red on World Lymphoma Awareness Day or on other days throughout Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, more buildings and landmarks partner with the Lymphoma Research Foundation to raise awareness and it is a wonderful show of support for lymphoma patients, survivors and their loved ones.

In addition to buildings and landmarks lighting, individuals raise awareness by wearing red on World Lymphoma Awareness Day, sharing facts and infographics on social media and donating in honor of those whose lives have been impacted by lymphoma. Each year, though, the highlight of our Light it Red for Lymphoma campaign is hearing from countless lymphoma patients and their loved ones about how much it meant for them to see a building in their area participating in the campaign to shed a light on their disease. The solidarity of the community coming together to support and provide hope to all of the incredible lymphoma and CLL survivors and their loved ones is really powerful.

… Many people have never heard of lymphoma until they are or a family member is diagnosed. That’s why raising public awareness of lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer, is so important.

Peggy Ann Torney MS, chief strategy, communications and engagement officer for the Lymphoma Research Foundation

Of all the things people could do for the LIR campaign, what are the top three you’d like them to do?

It’s easy for businesses, buildings, schools and universities, and even individuals to Light it Red for Lymphoma. I would say the top three would be:

  1. Donate--Your gift will support the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s mission to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease.
  2. If your office building, school/university, medical institution can light red, please request that they become an official Lymphoma Research Foundation Lighting Partner and light red on World Lymphoma Awareness Day or any other day in September.
  3. Wear red on World Lymphoma Awareness Day and encourage friends, family members and colleagues to do so, as well. You can share your photos on social media using #LightItRed.
 

Beyond Light it Red, how would you like patients, caregivers and health care professionals to get involved with LRF?

LRF offers a variety of in-person education programs, resources and publications for both patients and health care providers, as well as a wide-range of fundraising opportunities.

I would encourage patients and caregivers to join the Foundation’s Lymphoma Support Network, which is a one-to-one peer support program that connects patients and caregivers with volunteers that have experience with the same type of lymphoma, treatments, or challenges for mutual emotional support and encouragement. Patients and caregivers may find this useful whether they or a loved one is newly diagnosed, in treatment, or in remission.

I would also encourage patients and caregivers to download LRF’s award-winning mobile app, Focus on Lymphoma, which provides comprehensive content based on their lymphoma subtype and unique tools to help manage their diagnosis and treatment. Health care providers can share this app with their lymphoma patients to connect them with the Foundation’s resources, including direct access to the LRF Helpline and Lymphoma Support Network; tailored content specific to their subtype and disease stage; customized tools to help their patients manage their lymphoma; and much more.

Finally, I would encourage patients, caregivers, and health care professionals to support LRF’s mission by creating teams for an LRF Walk or Ride, joining Team LRF, organizing their own fundraising event to benefit LRF, or donating whatever amount they can so that we can fund the most promising lymphoma research until we ultimately find a cure.
 

Outside of Light it Red for Lymphoma, what are LRF’s efforts to raise awareness of lymphoma?

Since lymphoma is a complicated and diverse disease, awareness and education are powerful tools in the foundation’s efforts to find a cure. Throughout the year, the foundation remains committed to raising public awareness of lymphoma and the resources available to assist patients and their loved ones make the most informed decisions regarding their treatment and long-term care.

The foundation has been a leader in utilizing the power of social media to engage, inform and connect with those affected by lymphoma – and so social media is an important tool in our awareness efforts. This includes a robust YouTube channel featuring some of the world’s leading lymphoma experts discussing disease and treatment-specific topics, as well as award-winning social media chat series.

One of the most powerful ways to raise awareness is through storytelling. That is why LRF’s Ambassador Program is such an important part of the foundation’s efforts to raise awareness. LRF Ambassadors are volunteer lymphoma survivors and caregivers who serve as representatives at foundation events and spokespeople for the organization and the greater lymphoma community. LRF Ambassadors attend an annual training program to learn how to share their lymphoma experience, connect with other members of the lymphoma community and raise public awareness of this disease. One of the main goals of this awareness program is to provide hope to all those touched by lymphoma.

For more suggestions on how to Light it Red for Lymphoma, along with a list of activities supported by LRF during September, visit lymphoma.org/HowToLIR

At AbbVie, we partner with patient groups to produce positive external change in those areas where the impact we achieve by working together is greater than if either party work alone.

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Kelli Teno
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