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Osher Gunsberg shines a light on blood cancer and hosts Australia’s first virtual Light the Night event

Osher Gunsberg shines a light on blood cancer and hosts Australia’s first virtual Light the Night event

Tuesday September 30, 2020

Osher Gunsberg has today been announced as host of the Leukaemia Foundation’s first virtual Light the Night event, with the popular Australian media personality set to guide tens of thousands of people across the country through a special evening of blood cancer awareness this October.

For 13 years, close to 400,000 Australians affected by blood cancer have gathered in cities and towns nationwide for the annual Light the Night event, to stand united in support for each other and a shared hope for a future free from blood cancer.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s Light the Night has been reimagined as a virtual event, with registered participants now able to join with Osher and the national blood cancer community when they stream the official ceremony online on Saturday 10 October at 8pm local time.

Light the Night host Osher Gunsberg said he was proud to be supporting the Leukaemia Foundation and to give back to the organisation that supported his mum during her battle with blood cancer.

Osher’s mother battled the blood cancer myeloma also known as multiple myeloma, for several years and sadly passed from the disease in 2018.

When my mum was battling myeloma, a highlight of her week was the support from her Sunday walks with the Leukaemia Foundation’s [volunteers]. She felt so much support, so much solidarity and was full of gratitude,” Osher said.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my mum, however I’m grateful for the lessons she has taught me during that time.”

Every day, 47 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer including myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia. The Leukaemia Foundation’s latest State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report confirms that in just 15 years, by 2035, this number will more than double to 100 people per day.

Leukaemia Foundation General Manager of Supporters Rachael Lance said the Leukaemia Foundation warmly welcomes Osher Gunsberg as this year’s Light the Night host and is encouraging all Australians touched by blood cancer to register now and join the organisation for this very special event.

“It will be one national moment for the blood cancer community to come together – regardless of where you live, or your connection to blood cancer. Everyone will be able to join in and be part of this shared experience of support, hope and unity,” Ms Lance said.

“We Light the Night to give hope to everyone touched by blood cancer now, and to cure and conquer blood cancer into the future.”

Light the Night is free to attend and all fundraising through the event provides precious relief for families affected by blood cancer as well as supporting the Leukaemia Foundation to work towards achieving zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

Join Osher Gunsberg and other Australians affected by blood cancer at this year’s Light the Night event.

Official Lanterns can still be secured by new participants up to Thursday, 1st October so they can be delivered in time for the night.

To register or for more information, visit lightthenight.org.au or phone 1800 500 088.  

National Action Plan represents Australian first opportunity to achieve zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035

National Action Plan represents Australian first opportunity to achieve zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035

Sunday, September 27 2020

The Leukaemia Foundation has today welcomed the Federal Government’s release[1] of the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer, a first of-its-kind report to unite Australia towards a goal of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

Released today by Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, the groundbreaking National Action Plan was developed by the Blood Cancer Taskforce together with the broader blood cancer community and provides an evidence-based blueprint setting the national agenda to cure and conquer blood cancers.

It is the roadmap to achieve the vision of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035, underpinned by zero preventable deaths regardless of geography or background, through equitable access to best practice treatment and care for all Australians.

The release of the National Action Plan during Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September comes one year since the Minister established the Blood Cancer Taskforce and charged the unique collaboration of 29 of the country’s top blood cancer experts, patients and leaders with developing the agenda for change. The move was prompted by the release of the Leukaemia Foundation’s State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report.

Today’s National Action Plan launch includes Federal Government funding support to continue the work of the Taskforce into the future and kickstart implementation of actions within the plan.

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said the significance of today’s announcement for Australians living with blood cancer could not be overstated.

“Today, together, we turn the tables on blood cancer in this country,” she said.

“The release of the National Action Plan backed by the support of the Federal Government marks a paradigm shift to change the face of treatment and survival outcomes for all Australians facing blood cancer.

“We congratulate the Federal Government for elevating the growing issue of blood cancer to the national agenda. This is a vital moment in time which will lead to significant, positive change for people across our country living with this disease for generations to come.”

“We are delighted to continue as the lead organisation to support the Taskforce in its work to implement the recommendations of the National Action Plan.”

Ms Struthers said the Leukaemia Foundation was proud to have played a key role in bringing the issue of blood cancer into the national spotlight by commissioning the State of the Nation report – a comprehensive, evidence-based report which identified that blood cancer is more significant and prevalent than ever before.

“For the past 45 years, the Leukaemia Foundation has supported and advocated for people living with blood cancer, standing with every Australian affected by this disease to be their voice and their someone-to-turn-to and fighting to get them access to the best treatment, care and support,” she said.

“Through the release of the State of the Nation report last year, we began ushering in a new era of change for the national blood cancer community, and, united with that community, we have worked hard since to build momentum towards targeted national action to cure and conquer blood cancers, which is what we are seeing today.”

Ms Struthers said while Australia had strong health systems across the country which were achieving remarkable results in improving blood cancer survival rates and treatment, there was more work to be done to improve access to treatment and supportive care.

“The Leukaemia Foundation wants to ensure all Australians living with blood cancer have the same access to the best treatments, services and care, at the right time, no matter where they live. Breaking down these barriers is our priority,” she said.

“It is our hope that implementation of the National Action Plan will unite Australia’s blood cancer community and governments to bridge gaps in treatment and care, and, ultimately, realise what is now a shared vision to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.”

The National Strategic Action Plan identifies four major priorities to improve outcomes for people living with blood cancer and their families:
•    Achieve best practice
•    Empower patients and their families
•    Accelerate research
•    Enable Access to novel and specialised therapies

“The National Action Plan shows us that through coordinated and strategic collaboration between patients, patient organisations, clinicians, researchers, industry and government, we could see greater access to evidence-based treatments and care nationally, which will improve survival rates for Australians living with blood cancer,” Ms Struthers said.

“Equally important, it also shows us the potential to collectively reimagine how we are all walking alongside people living with blood cancer, empowering them throughout their journey and supporting them to live full lives after diagnosis.

“The Leukaemia Foundation celebrates the National Action Plan as an exciting opportunity to transform blood cancer treatment and care. We look forward to joining with the broader blood cancer community to support its implementation and, ultimately, save and improve thousands of Australian lives today and into the future.”

View the full National Strategic Action Plan here.

A complete list of Blood Cancer Taskforce members is available here.

Leukaemia Foundation spokespeople are available for comment by contacting the Leukaemia Foundation media team on media@leukaemia.org.au

END

About Blood Cancer in Australia
Incidence and Mortality[2]:

  • Every year, 17,321 Australians will be newly diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. This is equivalent to 47 people every day or one person every 31 minutes.
  • Incidence of blood cancer continues to grow. Over the past 10 years, incidence of blood cancer has increased by over 30%.
  • Blood cancer does not discriminate. It can develop in anyone, can occur at any age and at any stage of life across all states and territories, from children to adolescents and young adults to working adults with families and older Australians.
  • When combined, blood cancers are among the most frequently diagnosed cancers in Australia, and the most significant cause of non-preventable cancer death.
  • One in 10 Australians diagnosed with cancer will have a blood cancer.
  • Over 5,600 people in Australia are expected to lose their life to blood cancer or related blood disorders this year. This is equivalent to 15 people per day in Australia.
  • Blood cancer is one of the highest causes of cancer death in Australia, claiming more lives than breast cancer (3,031) and melanoma (1,375) combined.
  • Approximately one in nine cancer deaths in Australia will be due to blood cancer.
  • There are no screening programs available for blood cancers, and there is no way to prevent blood cancer through lifestyle change.

Prevalence[3]:

  • Based on AIHW data, the State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report identified issues with the under notification of blood cancers in Australia and anticipates that more than 110,000 people are currently living with blood cancer or a related blood disorder in Australia today.

Support Australians to survive blood cancer with simple stem cell donation

Support Australians to survive blood cancer with simple stem cell donation

Saturday September 19, 2020

The Leukaemia Foundation is calling for Australians to mark World Marrow Donor Day by signing up to donate their stem cells in a show of support for 600 Australians living with blood cancer whose lives depend on an allogeneic stem cell transplant every year.

Every 31 minutes, someone in Australia is diagnosed with blood cancer, and for many, a blood stem cell transplant from a complete stranger is their only hope of surviving their diagnosis. But thanks to a simple test, the chance for anyone to save the life of an Australian living with this disease couldn’t be easier.

Last year, the Australian Donor Registry launched a ‘Strength to Give’ campaign, to encourage young people aged 18-35 from a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds to register to become an Australian stem cell donor by using a simple cheek swab to check whether their tissue type matches with someone in need of stem cells or bone marrow.

As the successful campaign reignites once more, the Leukaemia Foundation is again joining forces with the Registry to boost donor numbers, with the latest push aiming to secure a further 6000 Australians to step forward and swab a cheek in a bid to add their name to the registry and save a life.

More than 70% of Australians living with a blood cancer requiring a stem cell transplant must look outside their own family to find a donor, leaving them reliant on Australians to be registered to donate, and looking to the Australian Donor Registry to source a suitable match.

But with less than 5 per cent of registered donors considered ideal, the Registry often can’t meet these needs, forcing a search for potential donors overseas for this vital treatment option. Sadly, in cases where the patient is or identifies as being an Indigenous Australian or hails from a community underrepresented in international registries, a suitable donor can’t be found.

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said World Marrow Donor Day was not only a chance to celebrate and thank blood stem cell donors worldwide, but also to draw awareness to the reality that access – or no access – to donated stem cells acts as a crucial factor determining survival for hundreds of Australians fighting blood cancer.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is focused on breaking down barriers to ensure all Australians affected by blood cancer have access to the best treatment, information and supportive care, because we know these barriers impact survival,” she said.

“It is simple – the more registered Australian stem cell donors there are, the greater the chance of survival for Australians living with blood cancer, and the closer we all step to seeing zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.”

The Australian Donor Registry is especially interested in registering particular members of the community. Younger donors result in better outcomes for patients, so 18-35 year olds are encouraged to register to increase chances of finding the best possible match. Additionally, young men are also considered particularly important donors – as they often weigh more, they literally have more to give. Ethnic diversity is also important as patients are more likely to find a match with a donor from the same ethnic background.

To register to become a stem cell donor, simply visit https://lf.strengthtogive.org.au/ and register your details and a swab test will be sent to you. Once this is returned, you will be placed on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

For more information on stem cell transplants, visit https://www.leukaemia.org.au/disease-information/transplants/ or visit the Leukaemia Foundation’s Blood Cancer Information YouTube Channel.

END

What is a Blood Stem Cell Transplant?

  • Blood stem cell transplant is also known as bone marrow transplant. This treatment may be recommended for people with blood cancers such as leukaemia, myeloma or lymphoma.
  • A stem cell transplant replaces blood-forming cells in your bone marrow (including cancer cells) that have been destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy with healthy stem cells. These cells then develop into new bone marrow and produce healthy blood cells.
  • A blood stem cell transplant can use a patient’s own stem cells (autologous transplantation) or stem cells from a donor (allogeneic transplantation). This can be a complex decision that will depend on several factors, such as your age, the type of cancer you have, the health of your existing bone marrow and your overall health, and any previous chemotherapy treatments.

Who is the Australian Donor Registry?

  • The Australian Donor Registry is an independent charity, part-funded by the Australian Government to provide hospitals with the ability to search for matching stem cells from unrelated volunteer donors from Australia and around the world.
  • The chances of finding a match for Australians in need depends on the characteristics of the donors. To find the best possible match, patients need donors from an ethnic background similar to their own. Some Australians will find a matching donor in countries like the UK, US or Europe; for others, a matching donor will only be found in Australia. For more information, please visit https://www.abmdr.org.au
How do I donate my stem cells?

END

Lymphoma rates jump 37% in past decade, with further significant increase still to come

Lymphoma rates jump 37% in past decade, with further significant increase still to come

Tuesday September 15, 2020

Today is World Lymphoma Awareness Day and the Leukaemia Foundation is highlighting the rising incidence of one of Australia’s most common blood cancers.

Over the past 10 years, incidence of lymphoma have risen by 37%, leading to close to 7000 people being diagnosed with this blood cancer each year in 2020[1]. Sadly, projections also show the number of Australians diagnosed with a lymphoma will jump a further 147 per cent by 2035 – making for an extra 10,000 Australians being told they have lymphoma every year[2].

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said with more people being diagnosed with lymphoma every year, it is a priority for the Leukaemia Foundation to ensure that each and every person will have access to the right treatment, care and information they need to survive their blood cancer and live well with their diagnosis.

“We welcome improved diagnostics to inform new targeted treatment approaches and we strongly support emergence of innovative therapies, like CAR T-cell therapy, which is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for some lymphoma patients – but not all,” Ms Struthers said.

“We need better access to genetic testing and more investment in research and clinical trials in Australia to help make new cellular and immunotherapies more accessible to all people living with any one the diverse set of lymphoma cancers.”

Leukaemia Foundation research shows that less than 30% of Australians living with blood cancer have access to genetic and genomic testing to inform their diagnosis and treatment planning. It also shows that less than 20% of Australians living with this disease have participated in a clinical trial, and only 1 in 5 who want to enroll in a clinical trial have access to one[3].

Improving access to diagnostics, clinical trials and new therapies forms part of what the Blood Cancer Taskforce has been considering in their development of the first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer, due for release soon.

The Blood Cancer Taskforce – a unique collaboration of some of the country’s top blood cancer experts and leaders – has now delivered the National Action Plan to the Federal Government and will continue to work alongside the Government to support the launch of the Plan soon.

“The National Action Plan will be a blueprint to not only save lives, but to improve these statistics and bridge these gaps to better meet the diagnosis and treatment needs of every Australian who is told they have a blood cancer,” Ms Struthers said.

The Leukaemia Foundation will today launch two webinars to help increase awareness, celebrate breakthroughs in treatment and acknowledge what still needs to be done to conquer the disease.

Speakers will include Dr Glenn Kennedy, Executive Director of Cancer Services at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, who will present on CAR-T therapy including an overview of CAR-T and its relevance to the lymphoma patient population.

Physiotherapist and lymphoma survivor Ms Julie Allen will also present from a patient perspective and talk about the importance of exercise as treatment for lymphoma patients.

Both webinars can be accessed here.

For more information about lymphoma, and to register for the Leukaemia Foundation’s disease specific newsletter Lymphoma News, go to https://www.leukaemia.org.au/disease-information/lymphomas/

– ENDS –

What is Lymphoma?

  • There are more than 50 different sub-types of lymphoma, divided into two primary disease groups – Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Lymphoma is the general term for cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of a vast network of vessels (similar to blood vessels) that branch out into all the tissues of the body.
  • These vessels contain lymph, a colourless watery fluid that carries lymphocytes, which are specialised white blood cells that fight infection.
  • There are two types of lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes (also called B-cells and T-cells). These cells protect us by making antibodies and destroying harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Lymphoma originates in developing B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, which have undergone a malignant change. This means that they multiply without any proper order, forming tumours which are collections of cancer cells. These tumours cause swelling in the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
  • Over time, malignant lymphocytes (called lymphoma cells) crowd out normal lymphocytes and eventually the immune system becomes weakened and can no longer function properly.

Lymphoma incidence, prevalence and mortality

  • Every day, 19 people are diagnosed with lymphoma in Australia and sadly 4 people lose their life from the disease[4]
  • Currently 6,932 are diagnosed with lymphoma each year in Australia, and more than 1,731 Australians lose their life to lymphoma each year[5].
  • The average 5-year survival rate for people diagnosed with lymphoma is 76%[6].
  • The number of Australians diagnosed with lymphoma annually is expected to more than double to reach 17,171 people per year by 2035[7].
  • The number of Australians losing their life to lymphoma each year is also projected to more than double to reach 5,082 people per year by 2035[8].

Leukaemia Foundation advocacy: Lymphoma
Medicine which the Leukaemia Foundation has actively advocated for increased access to in the past year includes:

  • Ibrutinib – in both capsule and tablet form as first-line treatment of patients with small lymphocytic lymphoma
  • Polatuzumab vedotin – as treatment for relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients who are ineligible for stem cell transplantation.
  • Acalabrutinib – for treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory small lymphocytic lymphoma not suited for treatment or second-line treatment.
  • Acalabrutinib – for use as monotherapy or in combination with obinutuzumab, for the first-line treatment of patients with small lymphocytic lymphoma who harbour a 17p deletion.
  • Pembrolizumab – as a treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma
  • Venetoclax – as a combination treatment with obinutuzumab for the first-line treatment of patients with CLL who have coexisting conditions and are unsuitable for fludarabine based chemoimmunotherapy.
  • Mogamulizumab – as a treatment for relapsed or refractory cutaneous T cell lymphoma for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory CTCL following at least one prior systemic treatment for this condition.

Leukaemia Foundation National Research Program: Lymphoma
A number of clinical trials, research grants and PhD scholarships are funded under the Leukaemia Foundation’s lymphoma program with the aim to better understand the biology and genetics of the disease, develop new and improved treatments and treatment protocols and improving quality of life for Australians living with lymphoma. These projects include:

  • Two international clinical trials funded through the Leukaemia Foundation’s Trials Enabling Program in collaboration with the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG):
    • Hodgkin Lymphoma trial, led in Australia by Professor Mark Hertzberg, in collaboration with the German High-Grade Lymphoma Group – looking at optimisation for first -line treatment of advanced stage Hodgkin lymphoma.
    • Follicular Lymphoma trial, led in Australia by Professor Judith Trotman, in collaboration with the UK Liverpool Trials group – looking at using PET scans to determine the response to therapy and inform treatment duration in patients with previously untreated high tumour burden follicular lymphoma
  • A cancer genomics clinical trial designed to bring precision medicine to blood cancer patients who have exhausted all other therapy options, with the first phase targeting high grade B-cell lymphoma patients.
  • A series of projects across the lymphoma diagnosis and treatment spectrum through the Leukaemia Foundation’s PhD scholarship program in collaboration with the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) and the Strategic Ecosystem Research Partnership program:
    • Development of a new class of small ‘drug-like’ molecules that kill B-cell blood cancers
    • Development of a new genetic, immune and clinical prognostic score to assess the best treatment pathway and supporting informed decision making for follicular lymphoma patients,
    • Epigenetic pre-treatment therapy to sensitise diffuse large B-cell lymphoma cells to subsequent chemotherapy.
    • Investigating the mechanism by which the tumour suppressor gene TP53 prevents the development of Leukaemia and Lymphoma
    • A series of projects and clinical trials aimed at developing new treatment approaches for blood cancers, and the prevention and treatment of Graft Versus Host Disease through the Centre for Blood Transplant and Cell Therapy.
    • Testing clinical efficiency of CAR T-cells in the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Strap on your runners to support Australians with blood cancer as Blackmores Sydney Running Festival goes virtual

Strap on your runners to support Australians with blood cancer as Blackmores Sydney Running Festival goes virtual

Monday September 14, 2020

The Leukaemia Foundation will once again be headline charity partner for this year’s Blackmores Sydney Running Festival as the iconic event is reimagined as an entirely virtual festival for the first time.

While runners usually come together every September for a rare opportunity to run across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and finish at the Sydney Opera House, postponement of this year’s physical event means those hoping to participate instead have the chance to run their own race wherever they are and whenever they wish, and even to race against themselves.

The virtual Blackmores Sydney Running Festival launches September 20 and runs until November 8, giving participants seven weeks to compete in their chosen event as many times as they like. Participants can use the festival’s official training guides to help them achieve their best time and record their results with the help of an app or their own fitness tracking device – all from the safety of their own home or local area.

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said this year’s festival gave everyone a unique opportunity to strap on their running shoes wherever they are while supporting families affected by blood cancer, including people living interstate, regionally and rurally who wouldn’t usually be able to participate in a Sydney-based event.

“We know regional blood cancer patients aren’t receiving the crucial diagnostics and specialist care they need when they need it and are more likely to face barriers in getting this care, and the Leukaemia Foundation is focused on breaking down these barriers,” she said.

“So it’s especially fitting that we are a proud headline charity for a festival that has this year transformed into a great opportunity for more Australians to participate, regardless of where they live, without travelling to Sydney and while staying safe in the current climate.

“By signing up for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival and running for the Leukaemia Foundation, you are making sure that every Australian facing blood cancer will have someone to turn to every step of the way to access the right information, the best treatment and supportive care, no matter where they are.”

The number of Australians diagnosed with a blood cancer has jumped 38% in the past decade alone. Today, more than 17,300 people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year and sadly, more than 5600 Australians will lose their life, an increase of 27% on 2010[1].

Projections show that while 110,000 Australians are living with blood cancer today, that number will more than double to 275,000 by 2035. Blood cancer is also expected to claim the lives of 186,000 Australians in this time[2].

“Blood cancer is one of the most common, costly and fatal cancers in Australia. There are no screening programs available for blood cancers, and there is no way to prevent blood cancer through lifestyle change,” Ms Struthers said.

“As we strive to help all Australian families affected by blood cancer, we are excited to again partner with the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival – a partnership which will help meet the growing demand on vital patient services in the post-COVID-19 environment and help us reach our goal to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

“Staying active and connected has never been as important as right now, so whether you’re a walker, casual runner or ready for some competition running there’s a virtual event for you, and that means there’s an opportunity to play your part in raising essential funds to help save lives.”

The Blackmores Sydney Running Festival was first held in 2000 using the Marathon route of the Sydney Olympics. Since then, thousands of participants have walked, jogged or run in the steps of those Olympians in their own quest for fun and fitness, and funds for charities. While the route may have changed for this year’s virtual event, the festival continues to cater for all fitness levels with options to take part in a full or half marathon, a 10km run or the family friendly 3.5km fun run.

Find out more information about this year’s virtual event at https://sydneyrunningfestival.com.au/. To register to run virtually to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation, go to https://fundraise.leukaemia.org.au/register/blackmores-sydney-running-festival

[1] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/summary

[2] https://www.leukaemia.org.au/how-we-can-help/advocacy-and-policy/state-of-the-nation-my-life-counts/state-of-thenation-download/

– ENDS –

Light the Night … at Home – Record numbers sign up early for reimagined event as COVID-19 forces transformation

Light the Night … at Home – Record numbers sign up early for reimagined event as COVID-19 forces transformation

Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Australians touched by blood cancer urged to sign up

The Leukaemia Foundation’s annual Light the Night lantern ceremony has attracted record numbers of sign-ups in its launch weeks… and it’s all thanks to COVID-19.

For the first time, Australians impacted by blood cancer will be able to sign up to host a Light the Night … at home, with families in every corner of the country expected to light up the night skies from their own backyards, loungerooms and hospital wards.

Already, more than 650 families from across Australia have signed up to be part of the event on Saturday, October 10 raising an astonishing $60,000. That’s the highest number of registrations and funds raised, this early in the campaign, in nearly a decade. As the new, reimagined event rises to meet the challenges bought by COVID-19 the Leukaemia Foundation is hoping more Australians than ever will come together, while staying safely apart to Light the Night, in a whole new way.

Registrations are already lighting up a new, interactive map showing lanterns from families all over the country as the Leukaemia Foundation finds a unique new way of uniting Australia’s blood cancer community by harnessing the latest IT platforms and interactive tools.

For 13 years, Light the Night has been the only Australian event that brings the country’s entire blood cancer community together including blood cancer patients, their families, carers and friends and members of the medical and research communities to stand united in support for each other, and in support of a future free of blood cancer.

Leukaemia Foundation’s Supporters General Manager Rachael Lance said in previous years, holding a Light the Night event at a specific location, time and day had prevented some people from attending – especially those who are immunocompromised during treatment.

“Now that we can all Light the Night – at home … we are thrilled that more people than ever before will be able to participate from the comfort of their chosen location and be part of this shared moment of hope and unity.

“It will be one national moment for the blood cancer community to come together – regardless of where you live, or your stage of treatment. How families choose to Light the Night is limited only by their imaginations.  A family dinner party, a sunset barbeque with close friends, a twilight picnic in the backyard or bedside in hospital with a loved one… it’s up to you,” Ms Lance said.

On the night, Australians are invited to light the three coloured lanterns that symbolise the different ways blood cancer has touched their life:

  • White… in honor of your own blood cancer journey.
  • Gold… in memory of a loved one lost to blood cancer.
  • Blue… to show your support for someone facing blood cancer.

On Saturday, October 10 at 8pm local time, registered participants will be able to stream the official ceremony from lightthenight.org.au or via YouTube as well as explore a glowing map of Australia that will feature thousands of Instagram posts from across the country through the hashtag #LightTheNightAU. Everyone is encouraged to tag #LightTheNightAU and their city or suburb (eg: #Sydney) to appear on the map.

Currently, there are more than 110,000 Australians diagnosed with blood cancer and the Leukaemia Foundation’s latest Blood Cancer in Australia report confirms that in just 15 years, by 2035, this number will more than double to 275,000 people.1

Ms Lance said sadly, charities were one of the victims of COVID-19 with many traditional community fundraising events being compromised or cancelled. While the Leukaemia Foundation was facing a shortfall in fundraising, demand for support and services for Australians living with blood cancer had increased significantly.

“The reality is, charities are relying now more than ever on the generosity of Australians. Every dollar raised makes a difference.”

Light the Night is both an opportunity for Australia’s blood cancer community to unite and a platform for the Leukaemia Foundation to raise funds to cure and conquer blood cancer.

“Those hosting the night for their loved ones will need to register their personal event and invite their friends and family to join them by signing up. They can then share their blood cancer stories via their personal fundraising page and fundraise $100 each to receive an official lantern to light on the night.

“Funds raised through this special event help to provide families facing blood cancer with the care they need to make it through every scary, uncertain moment that follows a diagnosis,” Ms Lance said.

“Donations also help to transform these fears into hope in life-changing ways by furthering the work of brilliant research scientists. This research is already saving lives right now as it continues to discover faster diagnostics and even better treatments for people with blood cancer.

“The lighting of lanterns symbolises the hope we share for a future free of blood cancer and the support of a community that understands the darkness a blood cancer brings to the lives of everyone impacted.

“We Light the Night to give hope to everyone touched by blood cancer now, and to cure and conquer blood cancer into the future.”

“We want to share our heartfelt gratitude to our partners Bridgestone, Holden, Brydens Lawyers, Kojo, Simon National Carriers for their unwavering support of Light the Night. In a year when we needed their support most – they have made Light the Night possible.”

Leukaemia Foundation’s Supporters General Manager Rachael Lance said the organisation is now urging Australians to register to be part of the event so that lanterns can be delivered direct to Australian doorsteps in time. To register go to lightthenight.org.au or phone 1800 500 088.

About blood cancer in Australia 

  • Blood cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia. it does not discriminate and can develop in anyone, occur at any age and at any stage of life.
  • More than 110,000 people are living with blood cancer in Australia today.
  • Every year, more than 15,000 Australians will be newly diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. This is equivalent to 41 people every day or one person every 36 minutes.
  • Blood cancer is the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer.
  • Blood cancer is on the rise. Over the past 10 years, incidence of blood cancer has increased by approximately 30%.

How to be part of Light the Night 

  • Sign up and register your event at lightthenight.org.au 
  • Share your event page and invite your closest friends and family to join you for a special gathering on Saturday, October 10, 2020.
  • Fundraise to receive an official lantern to light on the night.
  • Gather with your loved ones and be part of the virtual lantern ceremony at nightfall
  • Share your experience and connection to blood cancer by tagging #LightTheNightAU and your hometown (eg: #Sydney)

(1) https://www.leukaemia.org.au/how-we-can-help/advocacy-and-policy/state-of-the-nation-my-life-counts/ 

– ENDS –

Subscribe to receive the Leukaemia Foundation’s news and updates here.