CLL Advocates NZ Newsletter Issue 1

Welcome to our first CLL Advocates newsletter. Like many organisations, we weren’t able to accomplish very much over the lockdown period. We did, however, manage a Trustees’ teleconference to shape up our strategy for the next 12 months. One of the proposals made at that meeting was a monthly newsletter, so here is the first edition.

A huge number of lay and medical articles have been written about the COVID pandemic, and, as you may have seen on our website, we’ve published a number relevant to people living with CLL. See them here. One of particular interest was a consensus statement by Australasian haematologists on management of blood cancers in the COVID pandemic (published in May’s Internal Medicine Journal).  It noted that, with a mean age of diagnosis of about 70 years, CLL patients are already likely to be in a high-risk group simply because of age. Advice specifically directed to CLL patients was:

  • to delay planned therapy where possible
  • to consider using oral agents over IV medications so as to avoid exposure to higher risk environments such as hospital chemotherapy units, for treatment of both initial therapy, and for relapsed/refractory disease (see our recent letter to Pharmac on this matter).

New Zealand has done extraordinarily well at this stage to contain the virus, though it should be noted that vaccination, if successfully developed, may present further challenges for CLL patients.

The CLLANZ Trustees’ meeting agreed that information/education initiatives on CLL should be high on our priority list. In this regard, a review of the current management of CLL by Dr Gillian Corbett, haematologist and trustee, has been published on our website. A detailed CLL patient information booklet is also now close to sign-off and will be published shortly.

In October this year we will be staging a half day or evening combined meeting/seminar on CLL in NZ with the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer (LBC) group, with leading NZ CLL specialists.  This will be ‘in person’ in Auckland and also online on Zoom so that people from around the country can join in the discussion and if desired put questions to the speakers.  Details will follow soon.

To ensure we reach as many people as possible who have an interest in CLL, we encourage you to become a ‘friend’ of CLL Advocates NZ – by signing up to our newsletter here and/or joining our private Facebook group. You can apply to join the group here.

More details of anticipated activities will follow in subsequent newsletters.

Meanwhile, now that we have passed the winter solstice, and are becoming adjusted to the new ‘normal’, stay well, physically, mentally and spiritually. And please remember that as well as our advocacy role, we want to be a source of knowledge and support for New Zealanders living with CLL, and their families and supporters. To help us achieve this we would welcome and appreciate your feedback, and your thoughts on how we can best achieve our mission.

With best wishes

Neil Graham FRACP, FRCP
Executive Director
CLL Advocates NZ