Experience an Unforgettable Philly Night That Benefits a Great Cause
Every autumn thousands of walkers flock to the Art Museum steps to participate in one of the many Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night walks. During the two-mile stretch, participants illuminate the night sky by carrying a lighted lantern—white for patients and survivors, red for supporters, and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancers.
But the event does much more than provide a memorable night—the walks raise money and awareness to improve the quality of life of those suffering from a blood cancer by funding lifesaving research, and providing free information and support services. So far, the walks have helped to fund more than 300 active LLS research projects, invested more than $1.2 billion in cancer research and assist more than 55,000 patients afford treatments. An additional $500K was collected at Wawa registers across the area this summer and will be donated to LLS.
It’s obvious to see the impact The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is making in the lives of patients and their families but nothing describes their mission better than the incredible stories of blood cancer survivors—like Jen Pacifico.
In 2015, when Pacifico was only 28 years old, she discovered a large lump in her collarbone. Concerned, she sought the advice of her doctor and was told she had a large tumor that needed to be biopsied. The morning before her testing, Jen took a pregnancy test and discovered she was expecting, a dream come true for her and her husband. But her joy would be short-lived—just a few days later, she also discovered she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “It was truly the highest high to the lowest low,” she shares. “It was the best news of my life happening at the same time as the scariest experience of my life.”
After seeing an oncologist who suggested she terminate her pregnancy, Pacifico sought a second opinion from Dr. Sunita Nasta at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Nasta gave her the news she had dreamed of hearing—she could start her treatment and still safely deliver her baby. “I call her my hero,” says Pacifico. “She took such incredible care of me from day one.”
Throughout her pregnancy Pacifico went through eight infusions of chemotherapy, lost all of her hair, suffered lockjaw and at eight and a half months pregnant underwent an emergency induction because her baby’s heart rate was plummeting. Miraculously on February 27, 2016 baby Charlotte arrived completely healthy. “She was absolutely perfect,” says Pacifico smiling. “She had a full head of hair and I barely had any. She was the best thing in the world.”
After enduring the hardest time of her life, Pacifico was beginning to see the light in the darkness and four weeks after Charlotte’s birth she was deemed cancer-free. Through it all she credits her baby girl and the beautiful community she found at LLS with keeping her motivated. While sick, Pacifico and her family members walked in the Doylestown Light The Night—an event she credits as a profound moment in her life. “I remember looking at all of these survivors holding their white lanterns and thinking please let that be me next year,” she says. “It gave me so much hope to see all of these people who had made it, who had survived it.”
Since then, she’s done the walk every year and continues to find the light in the darkness of her sickness and inspire
others suffering from cancer to do the same. This year, the now mother of two (she gave birth to a healthy baby boy in May 2018!) will once again be joined by her CURErageous Crew, made up of friends, family members and fellow survivors to participate in her yearly walk. “Throughout my journey, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people through LLS who helped me through the worst time of my life,” she says. “I learned that you can find joy during your most difficult times. There is hope.”
To support survivors like Jen Pacifico, or those who might currently be suffering from a blood cancer, sign up for a walk today. There’s no fundraising minimum and each and every dollar goes to research and providing support networks and programs for patients and their families. Join Jen on October 6th at the Doylestown walk or register for the Chester County walk presented by West Pharmaceutical Services on October 13th or the Philadelphia walk, presented by The Wawa Foundation, on October 27th. You can register to walk or make a donation here.This is a paid partnership between Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio