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Patient Services at LLS

Pat Kramer, Manager of Community Outreach in Patient Services for LLS, was gracious enough to spend her morning talking to me about all the services LLS offers to individuals and families suffering from blood cancers.  Before joining LLS, Pat was an Oncology Nurse Educator and Consultant focusing on cancer related anemia and fatigue.  I have a number of friends who raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma through Team in Training, but I didn’t really know where that money went.  Here is a very brief synopsis of the services they offer:

Financial: They allocate $500 per year for transportation expenses to all blood cancer patients.  That might not seem significant, but some patients travel long distances to see specialists and the costs can be extensive.  Depending on the diagnosis, LLS may also provide up to $5000 per year to help with co-pays that insurance companies won’t cover.

Emotional Support:  LLS has a variety of support groups for cancer patients and their families to help cope with the emotional distress caused by radiation treatment as well as the stigma associated with having a life threatening disease.  Pat told me about a group of high school students that created materials to share with school mates about how to interact with other students going through chemotherapy. Additionally, LLS connects volunteer survivors with newly diagnosed patients to help them learn coping skills and share their experiences.  To be diagnosed with a disease and then to actually speak with someone who has beat it gives the patient hope and an understanding of what to expect. Along those lines, LLS provides young patients with interactive and educational materials like “The Stem Cell Transplant Coloring Book” giving young people a positive and creative way to understand their treatments and the purpose for them.

Education:  LLS is the single biggest resource for education about blood related cancers.  The IRC (Information Resource Center) helps provide accurate and current information on blood cancers through their website and 1-800 line.  They interface with doctors to make sure patients are informed regarding the latest research and hold seminars to educate individuals about clinical trials.  LLS also creates educational materials and programs to help clarify treatment options and provide information to patients and families in several different languages.  All free of charge.

75% of the money raised goes directly to funding the mission.  They operate on a very lean budget and rely heavily on volunteers.  LLS is an incredibly well run organization that is able to both give direct support to patients and also be involved at a strategic level through advocacy programs on Capital Hill.  I’m incredibly honored to do my small part to support the Society’s work and am very thankful that Pat took the take time out of her busy schedule to speak with me.

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