Date: 11/1/2010

Holiday Lights Glow with Hope of Cancer-free Future

Each brilliant pink and lavender light on the Lights of Life trees represents a donation made to the Community Cancer Research Foundation, Inc.

While most traditional holiday lights glow in reds, greens, blues and white, the Lights of Life trees at Community Hospital in Munster sparkle to distinct hues of their own—pink and lavender. Tall evergreens outside the hospital’s outpatient entrance will soon become the Lights of Life tree display honoring loved ones who light up our lives. The tree lights also shine with hope that a cure will be found for cancer.

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 local community’s access to the latest advances in prevention, detection and treatment of breast and other cancers.

Guests of Honor lighting the trees will be Judy and Joe Buchholz. Advancing cancer research has been a lifelong personal crusade for the DeMotte residents. Judy was a participant in the Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping Clinical Trial at Community Hospital in Munster, and is an eight-year survivor of breast cancer. Joe is a 73-year survivor of retinoblastoma (both diagnosed and surgery at age two), a cancer found predominately in young children which develops in the cells of the retina (light sensitive cells of the eye).

Through membership with the now disbanded North American (NA) 40+ Touring Riders’ motorcycle club, the couple traveled across the country raising awareness and more than $1,000. in funding for cancer research. At an international rally in Brown County, Indiana in 2006, the Buchholz’s had some 135 people come out and everyone there — on the committee and those in attendance - either had cancer or had a relative with cancer, Joe said.

“It was a small thing to do for a very important part of our lives,” he said.

“My mother’s sisters had cancer,” said Judy. “My mom had colon cancer and then eight years ago, I had breast cancer. I have two daughters and three granddaughters. I don’t want another woman to hear the words, ‘you have cancer’.”

Donors and their honorees are invited to a tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 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 lapel cancer awareness pin can also be sent to honorees along with a gift card in addition to reserving a light.

Nearly 300 area residents gather each year as three large pine trees — two with lavender lights and one with pink lights — are lit in honor of those touched by cancer. The pink tree represents those with breast cancer and the lavender trees symbolize all types of cancer.

A special program will accompany the tree lighting, including a performance by the Munster High School Choral Group under the direction of Bill Woods.

Also scheduled to sing and provide musical entertainment are Jeff Diebold and Amy Brophy from Theatre at the Center in Munster. Both actors are currently starring in “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas;” Diebold as Fred Gaily and Brophy as Miss Crookshank.

Other productions Diebold has starred in at TATC include Jesus Christ Superstar, as Caiaphas, and last year in The Christmas Schooner, as Steve. Brophy’s TATC credits include: Polly in Crazy For You and Ensemble/understudy Alma in The Christmas Schooner.

The Lights of Life program began in 2000. To date, the Lights of Life program has raised nearly $100,000 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: