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Meet The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man And Woman of The Year

By SHANE STUBER
Executive Director
LLS – KY & Southern IN Chapter

Awardees Julie Mitchell and Dr. Cesar Rodriguez.

Awardees Julie Mitchell and Dr. Cesar Rodriguez.

Every Spring, between Derby and the start of Summer, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society holds the annual Man/Woman of the Year campaign celebration. This year’s Grand Finale was held on May 30 at the Mellwood Art Center. This year was particularly special due to the amazing caliber of leaders who accepted their nominations to become candidates for this prestigious designation.

The 2014 candidates for Woman of the Year were Shari Baughman, Maria Bouvette, Mary Nancy Chatel, Julie Mitchell, Lynn Pfost and Megan Reilly. The candidates for Man of the Year were Gary Anderson, Jason Applegate, Dr. Peter Buecker, Clincle Lee, Dr. Cesar Rodriguez and Stuart Steinbock. These women and men dedicated 10 weeks to driving awareness and funds in support of LLS and our mission to cure all blood cancers (leukemias, lymphomas and myeloma) and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

These individuals truly worked tirelessly for the past two and half months. Why? Because each of them has a story. Every single candidate has been touched by a blood cancer (or other type of cancer) in some way. For some, they’ve felt the agonizing loss of a loved one who battled one of these terrible diseases. For others, they’ve fought the battles themselves and are now survivors. No matter what the personal story is that brought them to partner with LLS, they gave of themselves in every possible way to ensure that our future will have many more survivors than victims.

In the 1960s, cure rates for leukemias and lymphomas hovered around five percent. Due in large part to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s fundraising and strategic research funding efforts (more than $1 billion in our history), cure rates for those same diseases now range anywhere from 70-95 percent (depending on type of blood cancer). This simply would not have been possible without the amazing support of many individuals, companies, and foundations from around our community – and the country – who have contributed either their time, talents, and/or treasure to LLS.

The fight is far from over. LLS will not rest until cure rates are 100 percent for every single blood cancer. And on top of that, our scientists are finding that many treatments for blood cancers are being tested and used on other cancers. One breakthrough treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, developed in Philadelphia, is now being tested on other forms of leukemia, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.

On top of supporting world-class research that will undoubtedly continue to yield life-saving results to anyone and everyone who contracts a blood cancer, LLS takes great pride in giving money directly back to patients so they can have access to world class healthcare. In 2013, the KY & Southern IN Chapter of LLS provided more than $576,000 directly back to patients in our area. This came in the form of co-pay assistance for their treatments and direct patient aid that helped families pay for travel expenses associated with their care.

The 2014 LLS Woman of the Year is Julie Mitchell. The Man of the Year is Dr. Cesar Rodriguez. These two individuals completed this program on top of the competition. But every single candidate, throughout this process, truly exemplified the beautiful, altruistic side of our community. Louisville and Southern Indiana is truly an amazing place to live, work, play, and give. LLS, along with the 4,000+ patients we will serve in our area this year, wants to thank these candidates for their incredible support and efforts!