“Light the Night will blow your mind.”
That’s what Julie Serati said when she visited Intouch’s KC office recently to talk about caring for her son Joseph, who was only 8 years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The Light the Night Walk, which is sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, happens every year in cities around the United States. Participants carry lanterns — red for support, white for survivors, and yellow in memory of loved ones lost — and literally light up the night.
The event is more than just a fundraising walk; it’s an opportunity for people who are passionate about curing blood cancers to come together, show their support and celebrate victories.
Last Friday evening in Kansas City, thousands of supporters and survivors came together and did just that. They shared stories, commiserated, laughed, and inspired strength in each other. There were also fun activities for kids, including a bounce house, photo ops with movie characters, and a face-painting station. A live band and a dance team performed, and there were complimentary (healthy) snacks, water and Starbucks coffee.
Intouch’s KC team was there, too. We brought our custom #ALLin Airstream, and attendees lined up to take photos in our selfie station. Some were even kind enough to join us inside the Airstream recording studio to share their personal experiences in dealing with blood cancers.
One patient who came in to speak with us was Amy, a mother of two who’s living with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. Amy talked about what it was like to get the diagnosis. “It was horrible,” she said. “We were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. And unfortunately, it was the worst.”
But like so many others we spoke to, Amy chooses to stay positive. “We can do this two ways,” she said. “We can freak out, or make this as light as possible, because we have two kids to think about.”
Over the course of our #ALLin journey this year, this unconquerable spirit is something we’ve seen again and again: Patients dealing with life-altering and sometimes incurable diseases stay positive and determined to keep living their lives. Lynn, a survivor of anaplastic large cell lymphoma echoed Amy’s determination when she said, “You have to laugh and smile, because you don’t stop being you.”
After the band finished playing and the sun had gone down, participants lit their lanterns and set out for a short walk. Julie was right. It was mind blowing to see the night lit up and to think about what they represented. Despite their beauty, the lanterns reminded us of why we were there.
As 2016 winds down, we’re getting closer to the end of our #ALLin journey, but we’re determined to keep listening to patients and caregivers, and keep striving to make their lives better.