Members of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are planning a walk to raise awareness of blood cancers. Set to begin at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 12, in Pikeville City Park, the walk raises money and gives support to people who have or are struggling with hematologic cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Scrapy Barnes, whose daughter Rachel died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005 at the age of 22, has worked to get the word out about the event.
Barnes hopes to get 1,000 people downtown for the Light the Night Walk, which is in its third year.
“We have 12 teams and will probably grow to 20 by the time the walk starts,” Barnes said. “Each person of the team is asked to raise $100. We appreciate any and all we get.”
Money for research is important, according to Barnes, who said that his daughter lived three years after her diagnosis. Now, most people with blood cancers live longer in remission.
“Now we have an 80 to 90 percent remission rate for Hodgkin’s,” Barnes said.
“That’s because of research. Some people have been in remission for 30 years.”
Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually strikes young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old, according to Barnes.
“They are the last child born to a mother who is over 30 years old,” he said.
When Rachel was diagnosed, she and the family worked with 13 cases and not one of those people survived, according to Barnes.
“Now, because of research of the last 10 years, 11 of those 13 would survive,” he said.
Leukemia is the leading cancer of children under 20 years old, according to Barnes. He, along with other organizers, want to raise awareness of leukemia in children. In the Light the Night Walk brochure, one child, Kaidyn, is featured. Diagnosed at only six months old, Kaidyn received a bone marrow aspiration and was started on chemotherapy. He spent most of the next year in the hospital where he learned to walk and talk. Kaidyn is now a happy, healthy 3-year-old.
Barnes said success stories like these are everywhere. During the walk, he said many survivors will tell their stories and support those who are still struggling with blood cancers. Among them is Bruce Walters, who is chairman of the local chapter of Light the Night Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Barnes said the events for the walk include an opening ceremony, a remembrance ceremony, giving names of survivors and those who have passed on, luminaries and music by Lorraine Howard of Georgetown, S.C.
“Other special singing will be announced the night of the event,” Barnes said. “If anyone wants a luminary in honor of or in remembrance of a person they should contact us. There is no cost for a luminary.”
For more information, contact ‘Scrapy’ Louis Barnes at 606-432-5279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.