Date: 11/21/2011

Pink & Lavendar Lights Glow with Hope of a Cancer-free Future

Bridgeman, Michigan resident Jim Miller (right) travels to Community Hospital in Munster every three weeks to see his oncologist Erwin Robin, M.D. (left). On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Miller will be the guest of honor at the Lights of Life tree lighting ceremony, a program that helps to make cancer research available to patients in Northwest Indiana, southwest Michigan and the suburbs of Chicago.

Every three weeks, Jim Miller travels from Bridgeman, Michigan to Community Hospital in Munster to receive treatments for lung cancer. On Wednesday, Dec. 7, when Miller makes his trip to Munster, it will be for another reason — to illuminate the pink and lavender lights on the Lights of Life trees outside the hospital’s outpatient entrance on Columbia Ave. The holiday lights shine with the hope that a cure will be found for cancer.

Through the Community Cancer Research Foundation, Miller has had access to a clinical trial that has kept him cancer-free since July of 2009.

“It’s been a blessing,” said Miller about his monthly trips to Munster for treatment.

For the past 12 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.

Miller started out on the same clinical trial closer to home in Michigan, but after his oncologist retired and the trial site closed, the sponsor began looking for the next closest site to offer access.

Although the Community Cancer Research Foundation had already closed the study, it was reopened for Miller. He said that he was grateful that the treatment was available after chemotherapy and while he was hesitant at first to be enrolled in a research trial, changed his mind after the results were so positive for him.

Miller will be joining nearly 200 area residents 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.

Donors and their honorees are invited to the tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 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.

Special musical entertainment will accompany the tree lighting, including a performance by the Darren Zancan Band. Lead vocal singer and Highland resident Darren Zancan will play an acoustic version of “Table for One,” a song from his new album Masquerade Ball. Zancan said the song serves as an anthem for anyone who has lost someone — in his case; it serves as a tribute to his father Paul who succumbed to pancreatic cancer two years ago.

The Lights of Life program began in 2000. To date, the Lights of Life program has raised more than $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: