More than 300 unstoppable patients against leukaemia
As part of the Unstoppable against Leukaemia campaign, which formed part of 2015 Leukaemia Week (21-28 June), on Sunday 21 June more than 300 patients, who either have or have recovered from leukaemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma or another malignant blood disease, went out onto the streets to raise people's awareness about these diseases and to ask for their help in order to continue our research into them.
This event was held throughout 16 Autonomous Communities and 43 Spanish provinces. Joining the 300 patients and former patients were the families of 58 children and adolescents with these diseases, leukaemia being the most frequent cancer suffered by children. In Barcelona specifically, the families of 50 such patients and former patients met together in the Born district of the city.
This was the fourth year running that the campaign has been held and with every year that passes the event grows in importance. Last year 300 patients throughout the whole of Spain took part raising more than €50,000 through SMS messages of support. These funds were used to invest in a cell separator for the laboratories at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute.
This year more than 300 patients from all over Spain with, or who have had, leukaemia or other malignant blood diseases, went out onto the streets to ask people for their help to continue with research into combatting these diseases. Those taking part were able to share their experiences with members of the public through personalised leaflets describing their individual stories and encouraging people to send an SMS message with the word "IMPARABLES" to 28027 in support. The aim of the campaign, which the Josep Carreras Foundation launched in June as part of Leukaemia Week, was to raise funds for scientific research at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute.
The campaign took place in 16 Autonomous Communities and in 43 Spanish provinces. Joining the 300 patients and former patients were the families of 58 children and adolescents with these diseases, leukaemia being the most frequent cancer suffered by children. They were also joined, in homage, by 21 family members of those who had sadly not been able to overcome the disease.
In Barcelona specifically, an event was held in the Born district of the city which brought together 50 patients and former patients who were accompanied by their families and friends. Amongst those participating was Olga Gómez who has been a chronic myeloid leukaemia patient since 2011 and who is a clear example of the importance of advances being made through research in the field of haematology. The discovery of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) has radically improved treatment for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia.
Many such patients had to undergo a bone marrow transplant with the toxicity and risk involved in that procedure. Now, thanks to these drugs the illness can become a chronic condition without great secondary effects for most patients. "Some of the effects are of little consequence" Olga explains, "Some are more bothersome, some have disappeared. Others are on the wane while some remain, but, thanks to the treatment I can lead a practically normal life."
Our aim: more scientific research
Over recent years the Josep Carreras Foundation, together with the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) has established the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, a centre focussed exclusively on leukaemia and other malignant blood diseases. At the present time, the new building on largest of the scientific campuses that make up the Institute, the Campus ICO-GTP in Badalona, is under construction and it is due to open in mid-2016. When the new research facilities are in operation the Foundation will have another huge step towards reaching its research aims.
Thanks to the progress that has been made over recent years, survival rates have improved considerably. Nevertheless, there is still no definitive solution for cases in which the disease reappears, in spite of transplants and the complications this procedure represents for some. That is why we loose one in five children and half the adult patients. Until we know what causes leukaemia, allogeneic bone marrow transplant (from a healthy donor) will continue to be the only opportunity for a cure for many patients with blood diseases.
Many more lines of research need to be opened up in order to continue making progress and with that aim in mind the Josep Carreras Foundation is determined to push forward decisively.
More than 50 "unstoppables" in the Born district of Barcelona
On Sunday 21 June more than 50 leukaemia and other blood disease patients and former patients, accompanied by their families and friends, met at the Barcelona Guild Confectionery School in the Born district of Barcelona. After some brief words of welcome everyone had breakfast together before setting off to distribute leaflets with which to share their personal stories with members of the public. The close of the event was marked with all the participating "unstoppables" joining together again for a light snack and a drink.
*On our Youtube page you can see the promotional video, Unstoppable against Leukaemia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT8Pf8e8Xhk)