At this year’s Light the Night Walk, thousands of Calgarians helped to raise money in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Lynn Cox, campaign director for LLSC’s Prairie Region, says approximately 110,000 Canadians are living with or are in remission from a wide range of blood cancers, a category which includes leukemia and lymphoma.
“One volunteer said getting involved was better than any money they could having spent on therapy,” Cox said in an interview.
“They can have a moment to remember, in any way they want.”
That volunteer, or ‘walker’ in the terminology of the LLSC’s website, was Nadine Brotherston, whose fundraising team, T.J.’s Titans, raised more than $18,000, making them the most successful team at this year’s event.
Brotherston’s team is named for her son T.J. Holder, who died in 2013 due to complications involved in treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“Using our son’s name would make him proud, knowing that he is helping to save someone’s life,” says Brotherston.
“Everyone (at the event) has lost a loved one to blood cancer, so it’s nice to be with people who are in the same situation,” Brotherston added.
“It’s a scary world, when someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer.”
Her family and friends have been there for her, and Brotherston said Light the Night is really about getting people together in the same space.
T.J.’s Titans carried gold lanterns, as volunteers walking in memory of a loved one. Survivors carried white lanterns, and those simply offering their support had red lanterns.
Before the walk began, Matthew Saville, a cancer survivor, and his wife Carrie-Lynn took the stage. They seemed shy in the spotlight, but their words were emotionally charged.
“This has been a super exciting month for us. I’m so happy I’m not dead,” Saville announced, with only a hint of dry humour.
“We were told, if you have to get cancer, this is the best cancer to get,” Carrie-Lynn added, echoing her husband’s tone. “Between us there were few tears, lots of laughter.
“Please continue to help us raise money for treatments we hope you’ll never need.”