‘Mild the Evening’ returns to Grand Rapids; raising consciousness, donations for blood cancers

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – As day drew into darkness, a crowd gathered at Grand Rapids in Monroe North on Saturday for the annual “Light the Night” celebration.

“It’s an inspiring community event,” said Anne Bradley, Light the Night campaign development director.

People eventually took to the streets showing their support for blood cancer patients, their families, and the countless others affected by the disease at every step.

Colette Smiley was among the participants. Its white light gave a clue as to why it appeared.

“I’m a leukemia survivor,” said Smiley. “It changes your life completely.”

In 2014, doctors diagnosed Smiley with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. It is an often fatal cancer that forms in a person’s blood and bone marrow.

Smiley credits her treatment plan and stranger’s stem cells for helping her achieve remission within weeks of her diagnosis.

“I come here to celebrate, to celebrate every rebirth I have, but also to thank LLS for it [what] They do it every day and every year for blood cancer patients, ”said Smiley.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by blood cancer, with one person diagnosed every three minutes.

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and adolescents under the age of 20. It accounts for 25.1 percent of all cancer cases in the age group.

Symptoms of blood cancer often appear at an advanced stage, but can include those that resemble a severe cold or flu. Survival rates fluctuated 3 percent at one point, but now it’s up to 95 percent.

“Our goal and mission is to end blood cancer and improve the quality of life for patients and their families,” said Bradley.

All proceeds from “Light the Night” will benefit LLS, which says 80 cents of every dollar goes straight to their mission.

However, the participants found a lower value at night.

“We all live different stories,” said Smiley. “We all work in different places and our families are different and our backgrounds are different, but something brought us together that we certainly didn’t want, blood cancer, but it brought us together and we can now support each other.”

“Light the Night” hopes to raise a million dollars in Michigan.

To donate, click here.

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