Think back to all the videos we make and pictures we take with family and friends. While they say a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine a young mother documenting the last few years of her life for her 3-year-old daughter as a way for the little girl to remember her mom as she grows up without her. This is the story of Gahlit Friedenberg, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), who passed away in 2009 at the age of 42.
Every day, 118 people are diagnosed with leukemia, and 60 will lose their fight. There is no known cause for AML at this point, but one father's journey is helping change that -- and inspire not only other AML patients, but all of us. Marc Friedenberg, Gahlit's husband, is carrying on her mission to find a cure and help others who are struggling with this disease, with his Love Lives On campaign. He aims to not only raise awareness but help ensure that patients know that hope still remains.
Gahlit was diagnosed with AML just eight months after her daughter was born and made it her goal to live past her daughter’s third birthday. "It’s sad but also uplifting. A lot of this is mental. Mind over matter is huge when it comes to this --psychologically inspire yourself, which will go a long way. [Gahlit] set her goal and always, always played it in her head. You have to stay positive, strong and believe, because that is a huge part of treatment," says Marc Friedenberg.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society explains that leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Blood cells develop more rapidly and dangerously than normal. There are four common types of leukemia: acute myeloid, acute lymphoblastic, chronic myeloid and chronic lymphocytic. This disease affects all ages, and while treatments have increased the rates of survival, leukemia remains the leading cause of death for children from newborns up to age 20. To learn more about the disease and how you can raise awareness, visit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website at www.lls.org.
Today, Friedenberg is competing in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2012 Man and Woman of the Year Campaign with a goal to raise $100,000 by April 25. He has set up a series of events in the greater Los Angeles area through April 28, including a poker tournament, an online auction to meet some of the top performing artists such as Celine Dion, a golf tournament and an ‘80s-themed dance party.
"This campaign has been enlightening and inspirational. This is more about awareness and education rather than the money. It’s been an incredible experience," says Friedenberg.
Celebrities such as Justin Bieber have also joined Friedenberg, reaching out to the public and benefiting the campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
It’s not every day that someone can turn their tragic situation into a campaign that saves lives.
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