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STARS, Pink & Lavender Lights glow for Cure
Wearing the pink shirt with the word "Sisters" on the front, Nancy McCooley shows support for her own sisters as well as the 66 “sisters” of the STAR study. McCooley is the treelighter at the Lights of Life tree ceremony this year. The pink and lavender holiday lights shine outside Community Hospital’s Outpatient entrance with the hope that a cure will be found for cancer.
Hessville resident Nancy McCooley remains devoted to her sisters — Alma “Dell” Hale and Kathryn “Katie” Girton — and once wore a pink shirt with the word “Sisters” emblazoned across the front to prove it. McCooley honors that special bond she had with Dell who succumbed to breast cancer in 2010, Katie who is battling lung cancer and 66 other “sisters” of the STAR study, as the treelighter at the Lights of Life tree ceremony this year. The pink and lavender holiday lights shine outside Community Hospital in Munster with the hope that a cure will be found for cancer.
Through the Community Cancer Research Foundation, McCooley had access to one of the largest national breast cancer prevention trials to date in which 67 area women were enrolled in the STAR Study. The study follow up confirmed the effectiveness of two drugs - Raloxifene and Tamoxifen - in preventing breast cancer in women who are at a higher risk.
“I wanted to do something for my sisters,” McCooley said. “While at my annual mammogram screening in 2003, I heard about the Community Cancer Research Foundation and that they were accepting enrollment in the STAR study. I knew this was my way to help not only Katie, but others as well,” she said. At the end of the STAR study, McCooley passed her “Sisters” shirt on to Katie as a symbol of hope.
For the past 13 years, holiday lights on the Lights of Life trees outside Community Hospital in Munster have been illuminated and serve as a reminder of this 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.
McCooley will be joining nearly 200 area residents as pine trees — with lavender and pink lights — are lit 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. 5, 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 Diana Kovach, on staff at Community Hospital’s Heart Failure Clinic and a member of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Chorus. Kovach will be singing her rendition of “Hero,” by Mariah Carey.
The Lights of Life program began in 2000. To date, the Lights of Life program has raised more than $120,000 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 here.