Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and every nine minutes, someone dies from it.
The grueling toll on patients and families doesn’t stop at home. The impact of cancer in the workplace — and novel treatment options for hematologic malignancies that are changing the way these cancers are treated — was the topic of an important discussion at Northern Trust’s Brickell Avenue office on June 5, held in honor of the 2019 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light the Night Campaign.
Northern Trust‘s senior market executive of Miami-Dade County Alex Adams, and vice president of Marketing Diane Cruz, along with this year’s LLS Executive Campaign chair Dr. Guenther Koehne, deputy director of Miami Cancer Institute and Chief of Hematologic Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplantation, joined Jorge L. Benitez, LLS National Board of Directors chair, and DeAnn Hazey, executive director of LLS South Florida, in welcoming more than 80 distinguished physicians, caregivers, and business, social and civic leaders at LLS’s annual Executive Committee luncheon.
Among the notables attending included: Dr. Jack Ziffer, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Baptist Health South Florida; Dr. Michael J. Zinner, founding CEO of Miami Cancer Institute; Dr. Peter and Bea Citron; Alex Villoch; Susan Kahn; Lani Kahn Drody; Mayi de la Vega; Kristin Podack; Austin Hollo; Marta Yee and Roberto Vinas; Susana Moro; Jason Quimby; Mike Villasana.
Dr. Koehne, an internationally renowned physician scientist, is once again championing the Executive Committee Campaign. A recipient of an LLS grant, he is known for his work in immunotherapies, and for a novel vaccine he pioneered to treat patients with multiple myeloma.
Setting in motion a new benchmark for this year’s fundraiser, Dr. Koehne opened the event by announcing that Miami Cancer Institute had agreed to be the 2019 Light the Night Campaign Presenting Sponsor.
He then spoke to the rapidly developing field of immunotherapies, precision medicine and their impact on a variety of hematologic malignancies — and from the heart of an oncologist, saying the patients, medical staff and caregivers become one big family. He praised LLS’s 70-year history of fighting blood cancer, providing financial support to patients in need and for funding more than $1.2 billion in research to advance lifesaving treatments.
Lenny Chesal, a tech industry guru, now with Cybraics, and a past LLS 2017 “Man of the Year” and Executive Committee member, recounted the heartbreak of losing his best friend and his father to cancer.
Touching on the financial burdens that those diagnosed with cancer experience, Chesal noted that beyond the fear and emotional turmoil, fighting cancer is expensive. Expensive not just for the person diagnosed, but also for society, with cancer costing the world more money than any other disease — $895 billion — and $80 billion in the U.S. alone. Beyond the dollars, the sheer scale of cancer leads to lost productivity for any sick employee – tough on businesses large and small – and affects morale significantly.
Chesal noted that more than 1.3 million are living with leukemia or lymphoma, and encouraged corporations to get involved in the fight against cancer. Chesal reminded guests that, “It’s not just good for the world, but also good for the corporate bottom line” adding that 93 percent of consumers have a positive image of a company that supports a cause and 88 percent are more loyal to companies that give.
Manny Gonzales, of MGM Consulting and MGM Capital, spoke passionately about the cancer journey his family is enduring. His 19-year-old son, Sebastian Gonzales, was a physically fit and able bodied young man applying to the military, when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He praised his son’s optimism, stoicism, lack of self-pity and compassion for younger and weaker cancer victims.
“Northern Trust is proud to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society again this year,” said John Fumagalli. president of Northern Trust Florida. “Our company is founded on a longterm commitment to support various nonprofits that make a positive impact on the lives of those in our communities. Cancer affects all of us in one form or another, and it was our privilege to underwrite this event once again and help further the Society’s ever important mission.”
DeAnn Hazey, executive director, LLS, South Florida, responded, “We are indebted to Northern Trust for their generosity, supporting us with this opportunity to showcase the work we do and encourage others to get involved. This luncheon is critical to help us get the word out and set the stage to raise the bar, so that we can meet our financial goals for our most important fundraiser, Light the Night.”
The luncheon is a precursor to the 2019 Light the Night Campaign, a nationwide fundraising event taking place Nov. 2 at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami. More than 5,000 people, including corporate and family teams who have been touched by cancer, will gather to walk in an emotional and uplifting evening that aims to shine light on one of life’s darkest moments.
Together, they join a massive community of approximately 1 million people at 150 inspirational evening walks across the U.S. and Canada to end cancer. For more information please contact Hebe Occupati at Hebe.Occupati@lls.org.