RUSH: We’re at the halfway point here, and everybody’s been asking me, “So, how are you doing?” And I’ve been holding back. But it’s really astounding. We are 25-to-30% ahead of last year. It’s mind-blowing, folks. ‘Cause as I said, there are never any expectations going in. Nobody assumes anything. We do this every year as though we’ve never done it. We start every year as though it’s the first time. As though we have never spoken to you about this. As if we haven’t raised a dime. Except that we know you’ve donated and we acknowledge it, but I’m talking about the attitude that we take into this. The point is that nothing is taken for granted.
Every single dime that comes in here today is as appreciated as it was 21 years ago, and as it will be in the next ten years. And like I said: The same people that I met 21 years ago when we started this are still the same core people that we deal with every year. Mostly they’re volunteers, and mostly they are people who have been personally impacted by one of these blood cancers. I want to mention again the importance of the increase in survival rates that I just mentioned in the last half hour. I gave you the details of those. They’re really great. They’re anywhere from the high teens up to 70%. From the low 30s to 86%. From the 40s to 56%.
Depending upon the blood cancer involved. And the survival rate’s anywhere from three to five years, in some cases up to ten. As I said, those of us at the EIB Network have personally been touched by lymphoma in the past year, and we’ve all thus had the education, the emotional attachment that happens when it’s personal. It’s no longer something abstract and so the survival rates are what take on an entirely new meaning. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say that you are a 40- or 42-years-old father and you’re diagnosed with this. But it’s been three months since you began to feel the symptoms. There were weird things like your hand shook. You couldn’t sign a piece of paper, couldn’t sign your name, couldn’t make notes on a piece of paper, what have you.
You didn’t know what it was. You go to doctors here, doctors there. They say it’s gotta be something neurological and do all the tests. One doctor doesn’t take it far enough. Fortunately, another doctor that you see says, “You know what? Let’s look at cancer.” And after three months of trying to figure out what’s going on… And during those three months, there are days where it’s better. You think it’s getting better, then it comes back. You don’t know what’s going on. It’s as scary as it can be. You’re missing work because of it. And then you’re told it’s lymphoma, and you’re told that it’s your brainstem and your lungs and other parts of your body.
And you say, “Oh, my God.”
The first question you have is, “How long do I have?” And you hope you have a doctor who will tell you the truth. The doctor says, “We don’t know until we do all the tests and figure out exactly what’s going on here.” And you say, “Just give me ten years so that my kids can graduate high school. Just give me ten years so I can have them get to know me as they’re older and can appreciate who their dad is.” You say to the doctor, “Just give me ten years.” So the diagnosis indicates that it’s one of the blood cancers, lymphoma, and they immediately begin treatment.
And the survivability rate is all you’re concerned with here.
I mean, you hope and pray for remission. You know there really isn’t a cure. But you just want ten years. But if you’re told it’s three to five, then you deal with that. But it forever changes the relationship that you have with your young kids. If you’re 60 and this happens, the same thing happens. It’s just the years that you have are comprised of different things. But in this instance you have a 40-year-old man, a wife who works, and two kids who are not old enough to understand this yet. The most you can say is, “Daddy’s got a blood problem.” That’s why you want the years. You want them to get old enough so that they know who you are and so that you can impart fatherly wisdom, see them graduate.
And therefore the survivability rates become the primary focus. How long do you have? Everybody diagnosed with this disease, this is what they go through. Then they start the treatment, and that’s a whole different state of mind, depending on how rough it is, depending on what has to be done. But the survivability rate is an exceptionally important period of time that people are afforded after diagnosis. It’s about having the conversation with your children that, as I say, are too young to grasp it in the next two years. But if you’ve got five, that’s good. Ten, you see them graduate, maybe. But it’s those important conversations that teach you how to deal with fear.
I remember when I was in Sacramento, a colleague was diagnosed with a fatal disease, and he took me to dinner to tell me. I had no clue. At dinner he started out by saying, “I want to tell you what real fear is. You don’t know. I don’t care how frightened you’ve ever been, you don’t know what real fear is.” This is the same thing that happens to people diagnosed with one of the blood cancers, and you learn how to face it. You learn how to face the fear. You learn how to always believe in yourself and your doctors and the people treating you. You learn how not to be afraid of failure because there’s always the next attempt, the next medical attempt.
And you seize every opportunity that’s presented that you otherwise might have put off or taken for granted because there was no urgency. But now there is. You have conversations with people that you might never, ever, have without this disease. You reveal parts of yourself, learn and share parts of yourself that you never, ever, would share with your children, your loved ones and so forth. Because in these few years of survival, there are very important moments that still have a chance to take place, and you want them and you cherish them and you’ll do anything you can to get them. That’s why the work that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is doing with Gleevec and some of the other drugs is so important.
You just heard our first caller talk about the clinical trial he’s in.
All of this is made possible by the amount of money that is raised here and other places throughout the year, but your donations directly affect real people. It’s not an abstract thing. Every dollar that comes in here helps real people deal with the real human aspects of this. So you should know that it isn’t abstract. It’s not statistical. It’s tragic, these diseases. They are tragic. And the survivability rate increases are a direct result of the 20 years that coincide with the years we’ve been doing this Cure-A-Thon. There’s no question that your donations and these advances are related. They’re linked. And that’s why we do it every year, ’cause it improves people’s quality of life and gives them more years than they otherwise would have.
And you can’t, given where we are, do better than that.
Except find a cure, which is ultimately what all this is aimed at.
So that’s why we’re doing it, and that’s why what you do when you donate is so appreciated each and every year.