Holiday lights program raises funding for cancer research

Holiday lights program raises funding for cancer research
By: Community Healthcare System Last Updated: November 25, 2019

Licensed clinical social worker Susie Marcus facilitates the Caregivers Support and Breast Cancer groups at the Cancer Resource Centre in Munster. She also leads the Hope Network Support Group at St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart. As a cancer survivor herself, she understands firsthand how beneficial it can be to connect with other survivors and caretakers who have gone through similar experiences.

Marcus said there is a deep level of understanding, compassion, and encouragement when facing a cancer diagnosis.

“I know very well the fears, anxieties, challenges, and hopes that accompany a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery,” she said. “My approach is both personal and professional.”

For her dedication to raising awareness about breast cancer, its diagnosis, treatment and recovery and the advancement of survivorship, Marcus has been named as the guest of honor who will light the trees at the Lights of Life ceremony this year. The colorful holiday lights shine outside Community Hospital in Munster with the hope that a cure will be found for cancer.

For the past 19 years, holiday lights on the Lights of Life trees outside Community Hospital in Munster have been illuminated and serve as a reminder of the journey of hope that goes along with a cancer diagnosis. Each brilliant pink and lavender light on the Lights of Life trees represents a donation made to the Community Cancer Research Foundation, Inc. The Foundation supports important cancer research initiatives that improve the community’s access to the latest advances in prevention, detection, and treatment of breast and other cancers.

Nearly 200 area residents will gather in attendance as the pine trees – with lavender and pink lights – are illuminated in honor of those touched by cancer. The pink trees represent those with breast cancer and the lavender trees symbolize all types of cancer.

Donors and their honorees are invited to the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Community Hospital Outpatient entrance off Columbia and Fisher Avenues. Anyone may participate and “purchase” a light for the Lights of Life trees to honor a special person in their life. Each light represents a $5 donation, which may be made to the Community Cancer Research Foundation. For a $15 donation, a pink breast cancer awareness pin, a lavender cancer awareness pin, or a Hope lapel cancer awareness pin can also be sent to honorees along with a gift card in addition to reserving a light. 

Special musical entertainment will accompany the tree lighting including a performance by Raegan Smedley. Smedley is currently playing the role of Susan Waverly in White Christmas at Theatre at the Center (TATC). Last year she was cast as the understudy for Hendrika in Miracle on 34th Street. Other memorable roles for Smedley include Amanda Thripp in Matilda at the Wagon Wheel Center for Performing Arts, Little Nancy and U/S Randy in A Christmas Story, Tootie Smith in Meet Me In St. Louis and Molly in Annie all at the Memorial Opera House. When not onstage, Smedley is a 7th grader at Ben Franklin Middle School in Valparaiso.

The Lights of Life program began in 2000. To date, the Lights of Life program has raised more than $250,000 to bring cancer research programs to people in Northwest Indiana.

After the tree-lighting ceremony, all attendees are invited inside for refreshments following the program. Cards and pins will be sent out until Dec. 31. All donations to the program are tax-deductible and are used to sponsor local research trials for area patients. For more information on this program, call 219-836-6875. Donations are also accepted online at