We can help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society help people in need


LLS Light the NightLast week, we brought you a video in support of the LLS Light the Night Walk from the Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta. This week, we bring you Miriam Jerris of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. She shares her experience with the illness of a close friend, and what the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society did to improve his family’s quality of life. (Transcript available below video.)

More information about the Light the Night Walk can be found here.

Hi. I’m Rabbi Miriam Jerris of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, and I’m speaking to you today about the Foundation Beyond Belief’s Light the Night project and program on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This is a very personal story that I want to tell you today. 

My friend Dwayne was diagnosed with multiple myeloma about three and a half years ago. He is married to one of my very closest friends, and he had a bone marrow transplant about a month after they were married, a couple of years ago. He had a series of complications following the bone marrow transplant, and the recovery was kind of slow. But he ultimately did recover, and he was in remission for some time. He’d always wanted to move to a warmer climate, so last summer, they moved to Chattanooga, TN. 

Last autumn, he developed blood clots. And it’s a complication of the chemo drug, so they took him off of the chemo. After about two months of not being on the chemo, he developed pneumonia. And about two months after that, the multiple myeloma came back, and he was a very sick man indeed. In fact, they told him to go home and say goodbye to his family. 

So, um, to say the least, the expense of this illness has been extreme for them. And about a month after they scheduled a second bone marrow transplant, he got a call from his human resources department at his job, firing him. 

They were really at a loss. His wife has been unable to find a job; they didn’t know what they were going to do. But they’ve been going to a support group, through LLS, and some of the people there said, you know, LLS will help financially support you. So they applied, and LLS came through with flying colors. They’re paying their COBRA, they’re paying their copays to the doctor, they picked up the copays to the chemotherapy—they’ve literally saved his life. 

I never really understood the extent to which the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provided support, so those of us who love Dwayne are incredibly grateful to them. 

This is really just one story that Light the Night enables [LLS] to have in people’s lives. And the Light the Night walk allows humanists to make a joint impact together, putting our values into action. Doing the good work that LLS has done and our support of them gives us the opportunity to show that you can be good without god. 

I have incredible gratitude to the Foundation Beyond Belief, who has organized this million-dollar opportunity, and for the Society for Humanistic Judaism, for promoting this, and to my local team in Michigan, the Birmingham Temple. The Society has sponsored other local teams, and I encourage you all to find a local team, or to come on to our website and support or involve yourself in this very significant program. Thank you very much.