© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Leukemia And Lymphoma Society Uses Competition To Raise Research Funds

woman smiling in black shirt
file photo
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of North and Central Florida
Racquel Roldan is among the contenders for the Society's regional honors.

The most successful fundraisers will be elevated to "Man and Woman of the Year" status in each of Florida's six regions.

For those already fighting serious illness, the pandemic has made their plight far worse. That very much holds true for cancer patients. Two Florida women are helping spread awareness while raising money to fight a form of cancer many people mistakenly think has vanished. One of these women is Racquel Roldan. Her involvement in the campaign had very personal origins.

"In 2012, my cousin was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and they gave him about 3 months to live. He was about 33 years old at the time. And I'm happy to say we're in 2021 and he did survive. He is with us today."

Racquel's good friend is Ginette Grey. She's also part of the fight against blood cancers, such as myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma.

"I've been very blessed and fortunate not to have anyone in my immediate family affected by any cancers. But in my friends' circle, there are. And as I did start the campaign with Racquel, I wanted to support her 100% and I realized a lot of people know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who's affected by this disease."

And indeed, the raw numbers for blood cancer are significant. As the pandemic arrived last year, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society estimated America was on track to exceed 178,000 new cases of blood-related cancers. That amounts to 1-in-10 of all new cancers reported in the United States.

During her day job as an insurance consultant, Racquel Roldan has been constantly reminded of the prevalence of cancer overall.

"I'm getting calls from my customers saying they were diagnosed with brain cancer or leukemia or breast cancer. So just as a way of playing my part, not only being that consultant per se for my customers, but also showing them I'm here for them in the long haul, that really meant a lot to me."

To further show her dedication to the cause, Roldan is vying to become a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's "Woman of the Year" for the North and Central Florida Region. The voting takes the form of contributions to the Society, which funds research as well as services to patients. Ginette Gray said those services have become more crucial than ever in the past year.

"The L.L.S. has provided a significant amount of aid just toward COVID-19 patient financial assistance. And they've recognized that this fight that's going on in the world, we have this additional challenge."

The campaign, she says, also highlights some individual struggles.

"We are also doing this in honor of 2 children specifically who have received treatment and/or ongoing services and support: Luciano and Logan. It would be so great to know we have everybody's backing and support. They are also fighting a fight and we are excited to support them as well and do this in honor of them."

Contributions, she said, can be made through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's website.


Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.