Kelowna walk sheds light on blood cancer darkness

Kelowna walk sheds light on blood cancer darkness

The Light The Night Walk takes Saturday, April 21, from Waterfront Park

An event planned for Kelowna Saturday hopes to shine a light on the darkness of cancer.

The Light The Night Walk takes place April 21 starting at 6:30 p.m. from Waterfront Park.

The walk, sponsored by the B.C./Yukon region for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, honours cancer survivors, serves as a memorial to those facing a loss and offers hope and healing to those fighting blood cancers.

Besides the walk, held here for the first time after three local residents stepped up to organize the event, a blood cancer education forum, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Mike Delorme, will be held today (April 20) from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Coast Capri Hotel.

Kirsten Charles, one of the walk organizers, said blood cancer has left a significant impact on her life.

Her father was diagnosed with leukemia in 1982 and her mother with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma six years later. Her dad underwent a bone marrow transplant and subsequent interferon injections. He is still alive today living in Kelowna.

Her mom also underwent treatment but she passed away in 2003.

And a girlfriend of Charles was also diagnosed with leukemia about 15 years ago and also went through treatment.

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“The fact both my parents had blood cancer was just the luck of the draw,” Charles said. “It was a one in a million thing but blood cancer is not passed on by genetics. There is not guarantee you will or won’t get it.”

Charles said the differences in treatment were evident to her between her parents and her girlfriend, and in the years since further advances continue.

She says for her dad, it was a painful process to go through and coupled with radiation and chemotherapy, there are side effects that can often occur.

Charles says research efforts continue to search for a cure, but in the interim advances in treatment are being made and what is learned about treating blood cancer can sometimes be applied to other cancers as well.

Charles said the walk will proceed along the downtown Kelowna waterfront with participants carrying one of three coloured lit lanterns—red for those walking in support of others, gold in memory of those lost and white for survivors.

Registration starts at 6:30 p.m., and the walk itself starts at 7:30 p.m.

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