Online Staff Report
Lymphoma survivor Tony Boudreau, 23, of Belvidere, will be honored Sunday, Sept. 25, at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light The Night Walk at Davis Park in Rockford.
At the Walk, Boudreau and LLS will celebrate his remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has been cancer-free since April 2010.
Light The Night is LLS’s annual fund-raising walk held in communities throughout the country to celebrate and commemorate lives, like Boudreau’s, that have been touched by cancer. More than 8,000 people in Illinois participate by forming teams with co-workers, families and friends to raise funds for life-saving blood cancer research and patient services.
Boudreau’s is one of the lives saved. What he first thought was a nagging cough turned out to be a cancerous tumor hiding underneath his sternum. At age 21, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Doctors had to perform open-heart surgery to get a viable sample of the tumor and determine the best course of treatment.
Through six months of chemotherapy, the tumor kept shrinking, until in April 2010, when Boudreau was declared cancer-free. His dedication to fighting blood cancers continues.
“I vow to fight alongside those who today fight the same malady that plagued my life,” Boudreau said. “For they are the ones who taught me that I’m not alone — there are others to live for, to fight for.”
LLS Executive Director Pam Swenk said: “We are so appreciative to Tony and his family for being willing to share the experience of lymphoma. As hard as it is to tell the story, it helps people understand how important Light The Night is, and what a difference The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society makes. Without the commitment of each and every walker that comes out and carries a balloon to symbolize our mission, and the dollars raised, we would not be able to invest in the research that is changing the quality of life for people living with cancer.”
The Light The Night Walk is a 2-mile, non-competitive event. Participants carry illuminated balloons while they walk — white for survivors, red for supporters and gold to remember those lost to blood cancer.
Before the Walk, LLS will honor Dr. Harvey Einhorn and SwedishAmerican Health Systems with the Relentless for a Cure Award in recognition of Dr. Einhorn’s continued efforts on behalf of patients. The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in the VIP Tent.
Other pre-Walk festivities include music, food, entertainment, and kids’ activities, beginning at 5:30 p.m. A brief program will recognize Honored Heroes, like Boudreau, before the walk itself starts at 7 p.m.
In addition to Rockford, other area locations for the Light The Night Walk include Chicago (Grant Park), Glenview and Lisle. The Walk is held in September in recognition of Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma Awareness Month.
Last year, participants in the Light The Night Walk raised more than $45 million nationwide. For more details or to register, contact the Illinois Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at (312) 651-7354 or visit www.lightthenight.org/il.