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Providing support to anyone affected by blood cancer
This September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month which is an entire month dedicated to raising awareness of blood cancer, its symptoms and the services available to the people it affects. It is also an opportunity for organisations, like Leukaemia CARE, to focus on and promote themes surrounding blood cancer awareness that are important to them. This year the emphasis of Leukaemia CARE’s activities are on early diagnosis. Symptoms of blood cancers can be vague but if spotted early, can lead to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment outcomes. This is why Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and the awareness days mentioned below, are so important. They highlight the symptoms of these relatively rare diseases that people might not associate with blood cancer. If more people are made aware of blood cancer and its symptoms, it could lead to earlier diagnosis and potentially save lives.
Our main campaign throughout Blood Cancer Awareness Month is our GP e-learning resource which has been developed in partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners. The two 30-minute modules are free and designed to support GPs in recognising the symptoms of a blood cancer to help early diagnosis and keep them informed on the latest blood cancer information. Our aim is to improve awareness of blood cancers and improve outcomes for patients by ensuring they are referred for treatment earlier by their doctors. In addition, we have created a flyer stating the symptoms of blood cancer. The flyer can be downloaded from our website and the idea is that they are to be distributed to GP surgeries by the general public, encouraging GPs to be more aware of the vague symptoms of blood cancer. We have also created a symptom card for the public, available to download on our website, which highlights the range of symptoms caused by blood cancers. Both of these should contribute to more people being aware of the symptoms of blood cancers, encouraging earlier diagnosis.
Other organisations are using Blood Cancer Awareness Month as an opportunity to campaign and advocate for the communities that they represent.
The 10th of September 2015 is Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the effects of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). Leukaemia CARE offers support to people with myeloproliferative neoplasms, which is a group of conditions where a person’s bone marrow does not function as it should. Our bodies normally produce billions of blood cells every day and this process occurs inside our bone marrow which is the spongy tissue found inside our bones. When someone has MPN it is because there is an overproduction of the different types of blood cells. This can cause a multitude of symptoms and complications. The organisation “Voices of MPN Network” have designated the second Thursday of every September as Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Awareness Day. The key goal of the event is to encourage those living with MPN to use their voice and share their stories. The MPN community will come together by sharing experiences, connecting patients with one another and highlighting excellence in support for patients and caregivers.
The week commencing the 14th September 2015 is Lymphatic Awareness Week which includes World Lymphoma Awareness Day on the 15th September 2015. Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymph glands or other parts of the lymphatic system. It occurs when some of the white blood cells divide in an abnormal way and do not die as and when they should. These abnormal cells can collect in the lymph nodes which then enlarge as tumours form. The “Lymphoma Coalition”, which Leukaemia CARE is a member of, initiated World Lymphoma Awareness Day over a decade ago and this year aims to promote its global awareness message in order to inform more people about the condition, its symptoms and the barriers patients face in terms of treatment and care. In 2014, 62% of patients were misdiagnosed and the “Lymphoma Coalition” maintain that most people don’t know what lymphoma is and it is their aim to change this. They hope to encourage more people to talk about it and be more aware of the symptoms, encouraging earlier diagnosis.
On the 22nd September 2015 it is International Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Day where people around the world will aim to raise awareness for those who have chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). CML is a cancer that is classified by an unregulated growth of white blood cells in the bone marrow and the build-up of these cells in the blood. Even though there has been significant development in treating CML over the past decade, worldwide not every patient has access to the best available treatment and care. Initiated by the patient community in 2008, International CML Day is held on the 22nd September each year because of its symbolic significance – the disease is caused by the change of chromosomes 9 and 22. Leukaemia CARE is a member of the “CML Advocates Network”, a group connecting more than 100 patient organisations in almost 80 countries. The network is commemorating World CML Day by canvassing their “Today, Together” campaign, which aims to raise awareness of CML whilst prompting the CML patient community to hold events in aid of the awareness day.
Click here for more information on what Leukaemia CARE have planned for Blood Cancer Awareness Month.