YUAN LIU AND STAFF WRITERS
Thousands of Australians around the country will take part in a special virtual lantern lighting ceremony to raise money for blood cancer on October 10 this year.
The event, called Light the Night, is organised by the Leukaemia Foundation.
The lighting of lanterns symbolises the shared hope for a future free of blood cancer and the support of a community that understands the darkness cancer brings to people’s lives.
Families and friends of people affected by blood cancer are encouraged to host their own lantern lighting ceremonies as part of an Australian-wide virtual event.
So far 2841 people have registered for this year’s event, and event organisers are encouraging participants to share their stories of how blood cancer has touched their lives.
Participants who raise $100 or more receive a special lantern to use in their own lighting ceremony and can choose from three lantern colours.
Blue lanterns show support for those affected by blood cancer, gold lanterns remember a loved one lost to blood cancer and white lanterns symbolise a participant’s own blood cancer journey.
Participants are encouraged to tag their special moments with #LightTheNightAU and include their location and lantern colour, to light up a virtual map of Australia, which will be live on the Light the Night website during the event.
Leukaemia Foundation Acting General Manager Supporters Rachael Lance said the Foundation anticipated that the reinvention of Light the Night to suit a COVID-safe environment would inspire even more Australians to take part in the event.
“In previous years, holding a Light the Night event at a specific location, time and day has prevented some people from attending – especially those who are immunocompromised during treatment,” Ms Lance said.
“Now that we can all Light the Night – at home… more people will be able to participate from the comfort of their chosen location – be it at their own home, a local community space or their own hospital bed,” she said.
“It will be one national moment for the blood cancer community to come together – regardless of where you live, or your stage of treatment.”
“Everyone will be able to join in and be part of this shared moment of hope and unity,” Ms Lance said.
Every year, 17,321 Australians will be newly diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, which is equivalent to 47 people every day or one person every 31 minutes.
More than 110,000 people are living with blood cancer or a related blood disorder in Australia today, but numbers are predicted to soar to 275,000 by 2035.
Leukaemia Foundation spokesperson Anika Hume said the funds raised from the event would be used in a variety of ways to support people living with blood cancer, including free transport to treatment appointments, cancer research, and emotional support for families dealing with a blood cancer diagnosis.
“The Leukaemia Foundation stands with the 11,000 Australians living with blood cancer and their families, and we aim to help and support as many of these people and families as we can,” Ms Hume said.
“Our organisation is relying now more than ever on the generosity of Australians through community fundraising events like Light the Night to help give people living with blood cancer someone to turn to, a place to call home during treatment and access to the best possible care,” she said
“We deeply appreciate any support through this time to continue this important work.”
Emma Dibbin and her partner Adrian Reed will be participating in Light the Night this year following Mr Reed’s diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a type of blood cancer.
Ms Dibbin said the diagnosis had been a harrowing time for the couple.
“Adrian spent his first few days processing his diagnosis with fear and uncertainty,” she said.
“For him, he knew his fight was going to be hard, uncomfortable and that his body would never be the same again.”
“He is a person who doesn’t dwell on situations, he focuses more on the outcome he wants.
“Adrian wanted to survive and live a long healthy life, and to do that, he needed to get through each day.”
Ms Dibbin said the 2020 event would be the couple’s first Light the Night experience and they were determined to make it a unique one.
“We feel honoured that we get to give back to a community that opened their arms and hearts to us,” she said.
“It’s a community we never really knew existed and one we never expected would become so dear to us.
“Without events such as Light the Night, we would not be here today, sitting together, drinking hot chocolate and having snuggles with our fur babies.”
Light the Night ceremony takes place on Saturday, October 10 at 8pm local time, and registered participants will be able to stream the official ceremony from lightthenight.org.au or via YouTube as well as explore the glowing map of Australia that will feature thousands of Instagram posts from across the country.
For more information or to get involved in Light the Night 2020 visit www.lightthenight.org.au.