As darkness falls on the first Friday in October, the Fitters’ Workshop at Kingston will brighten with hundreds of coloured lanterns, joining more than 30,000 across Australia to fill the night with light and hope for people living with blood cancer.
Light the Night is the Leukaemia Foundation’s annual lantern walk to raise funds to support families living with blood cancer and fund life-changing research. It’s also an opportunity to walk beside those facing their own blood cancer journey, and to remember loved ones lost.
Leukaemia Foundation community supporter coordinator for ACT Raynie McNee says the evening is not chiefly aimed at fundraising, but more on offering support to people with blood cancer and their families and carers.
Entertainer and gold ambassador Hayley Jensen, a former contestant on Australian Idol and The Voice, will perform on the night.
“She has her own personal journey; she’s lost a family member to blood cancer,” Raynie says. “Hayley has written her own personal song she will be singing to close the evening. We also have a fabulous local band called Drumassault who are excellent entertainers.”
The one-kilometre loop walk from the Fitters Workshop begins at 7:30 pm but shorter options are available.
“We have a shorter walk for anyone who is mobility is impaired, and that keeps it more inclusive so we all finish together,” Raynie says.
Attendees are encouraged to register for the event to ensure they’re allocated a lantern. Lanterns cost $20 and are suitable for carrying along the walk. The colour of the lantern is also significant.
Gold lanterns indicate an ambassador who has lost someone to blood cancer. Silver indicates someone going through their own personal journey with blood cancer. Blue lanterns indicate a supporter, for attendees supporting the fight against leukaemia.
Lanterns can be collected from 5:30 pm.
“We do encourage people to register before the night, then they have an option to use that registration to fundraise. Social media is the way we do it: share it on social media with friends and family who may jump on board with $10 or $20.”
The fundraising helps families and carers with transport costs and accommodation for anyone more than 100 kilometres from Canberra.
Raynie says the Canberra Hospital cannot help all types of blood cancer patients, and does not have a paediatrics service in Canberra, so some people have to travel to Sydney for treatment.
“The six accommodation units in Garran in Canberra are always occupied. We have people attending two or three times a week, so it is quite busy,” Raynie says.
Light the Night began in Canberra in 2017. Last year, around 750 people attended.
Light the Night is becoming more important as an estimated 110,000 people in Australia are living with blood cancer. Research is improving survival but there’s still a long way to go.
In 1998, children diagnosed with leukaemia had around a 65 per cent chance of survival. Today, improvements in treatment and care mean nearly 90 per cent of children will survive the disease.
To register for Light the Night on 4 October, visit the Leukaemia Foundation.