Community members braved the biting cold wind Tuesday night for the “Light the Night” walk to bring awareness and raise funds for blood cancers. These cancers include Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Non-Hopkins Lymphoma, Leukemia and Myeloma. The event was put on by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Many area sponsors including Castleview Hospital, Emery Telcom and Bridge Reality sponsored the event.
There are more than 310,00 people living with or in remission from leukemia in the US. It causes almost one-third of all the cancer deaths in children and adolescents younger than 15 years old. More males than females are diagnosed and die from leukemia.
Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma affects over 731,000 people living in the US. This includes those with or in remission from the blood cancer. More individuals have non-Hodgkin (NHL) with an estimated 558,000 have or are in remission with NHL.
Myeloma is another blood cancer with a median age at diagnosis of 69 years. The mortality from myeloma has been decreasing since 1995. Myeloplastc Syndromes (MDS) has over 14,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The estimated incidence rate of MDS is 4.8 per 100,000 people.
The goal of the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is to raise $10,000 before the end of the year. They are currently over $6,000. The funds raised go toward both research and patient services. In Utah, $139,000 helped patients in the co-pay assistance program. That gives individuals up to $5,000 per year, based on diagnosis and income to help with co-pays.
There is also a patient financial aid program that helps with up to $100 per year to cover costs associated with treatment. Last year over $30,000 in assistance was given out in Utah.
Local organizer Misty Birch was involved with the Light the Night walk in the Salt Lake area. She had been originally hired at a Salt Lake area hospital by former Castleview Hospital CEO, Jeff Manley while he was in the northern Utah area. When Birch learned of Manley’s diagnosis of cancer, she took on the cause in Salt Lake. Now living in Price, Birch wants to bring awareness to the local area.
With no budget, Birch headed out and rounded up corporate sponsors and large donations. She also found the small contributions touched her heart the most. She said no one turned her down when she asked for help. Places like Little Ceasar’s Pizza and Peczuh Printing were just a few examples of generosity.
Cancer survivor, Chuck Watkins gave an inspirational talk at the evening event to help the crowd understand how tough the fight is and how important their help and donations are to fight these forms of cancer.