BG (Bernice) Gonzalez celebrates her remission Nov. 19, which also happens to be her dad’s birthday.
It’s likely the rest of her flock will embrace the day as well, as they have been by her side throughout her cancer experience.
They became her flock early on with a formal declaration during their first Light the Night.
Emily Bonnett was on that largest team, carrying their homemade lanterns through the darkness in honour and support.
“Light the Night was amazing,” Bonnett said. “BG’s journey felt so specific and individual at the beginning. I often felt that because she was so young, no one else really understood how surreal or difficult the situation was. Walking together with other survivors and their support systems was both encouraging and eye-opening. I had no idea how leukemia and lymphoma could affect so many people, but I also had no idea how powerful it would be to stand up with other people and remember their fortitude through their own struggle.”
Funds raised by participants support the society’s mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Both women encourage people to participate, whether fundraising or supporting the survivors, learning about blood cancers, or finding a place to volunteer.
Those are among the goals of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada Light the Night, to remember the people lost and celebrate the people here still and put a face on diagnosis, said Megan Norrish, of LLSC BC/Yukon, an organizer of the Sept. 15 walk in Oak Bay.
“Light the Night has been happening for a really long time. It’s a celebration; for all of our survivors as well as a celebration for all those walking in memory, it’s a way to honour those people,” explained Norrish.
While BG’s flock was the biggest team that first year of her cancer journey, BG wasn’t comfortable in crowds, particularly of strangers. She felt too young, too thin and had lost her hair by that point.
But LLSC had already steered her in the right direction with educational opportunities. Informations such as the fact blood cancer is fourth most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women in Canada (3131 newly diagnosed in BC annually) helped her understand the situation better. So she went to Light the Night with her flock.
White balloons are carried by survivors, red by supporters, and gold balloons are carried by those walking in memory of a loved one they lost.
Light the Night Walk out in Oak Bay on Sept. 15 starting at 6 p.m. with a walk to Oak Bay Marina area where they will celebrate survivors and remember those lost with illuminated red, gold and white lanterns. Members of BGs Flock expect to take in one of the Light the Night Walk’s. (There are over 200 in North America and Australia)
For more info and to sign up for the event, visit lightthenight.ca.