Leukaemia is a disease that affects up to 35 Australians a day. Light the Night lights up the lives of those touched by the dreaded disease.
Demi Hines is singing on stage when she suddenly walks off, but it’s not what you think. She moves down to the grass, gets on her knees and sings to the young kids who have flocked to her at the front of the 2,000 plus strong crowd.
She even asks if she can take one of the little girls home for a month. “She will be fed, cleaned and well looked after,” Demi quips. Her mum jokes back, “Sure she would love that.” All the while Demi has the children mesmerised with her powerful voice.
As the headline act for the Leukaemia Foundation’s Light the Night event, Demi Hines has joined other artists to entertain the crowds while they wait for the last rays of sun to dip beyond the horizon. As the sky turns a beautiful hue of light orange, it’s the signal to start the Light the Night Walk around the Barangaroo reserve on Sydney Harbour foreshore.
This is one of the many Light the Night events taking place throughout the country to raise funds and awareness about all forms of blood cancer. Not all events are held on the same night but together, they will all be raising money for The Leukaemia Foundation, which receives no government funding and is supported entirely by the generosity of the public and corporations.
Of all the cancers, blood cancers have the second highest rate of death. In fact, blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma affect on average 35 people each day in Australia. The disease doesn’t discriminate, it will attack infants, children and adults with equal ferocity. In some cases, treatment needs to start within 24 hours of diagnosis.
A diagnosis can be devastating for families. Several weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a friend who had been fighting leukaemia for 22 months. In his case, he had no signs that anything was wrong. It wasn’t until his annual check up that the disease was revealed, and he was told the shocking news.
Everything else in his life was going well. His son was engaged and his daughter was just beginning a promising legal career. This meant, with an empty nest, he and his wife were looking forward to spending more time together and going on adventures.
On the road to recovery, tragedy struck. He had graft-versus-host disease, which was a complication that occurred after his bone marrow transplantation. This compromised his body and he had multi-system organ failure, which eventually caused his death.
In order for this story not to be repeated for another family, millions of dollars are invested by The Leukaemia Foundation into researching better treatments and hopefully one day a cure. The Foundation also provides free services to support patients and their families as they undergo treatment. Their goal is to raise $2 million this year. So far, over $1.5 million has been raised and they are well on target. Individuals and companies can both donate. This year marks 30 years of sponsorship from Bridgestone Tyres.
If you raise $100 for the foundation, you will receive a lantern, available in three colours; gold to remember a loved one, white for your own blood cancer journey and blue to support others.
Christine McMillan, General Manager NSW/ACT thanked all those that had come out to support the night all over the country.
Not only does this event raise money for the great work the foundation does, but also gives families, survivors and those that have lost someone an opportunity to come together in mutual support as part of a special community. – Story and photos by Noel Fisher