Albany--One south Georgia hospital is preparing to kick off a very special ceremony for families and individuals dealing with cancer.
On December 10th, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital will host its annual Lights of Love event at 7 PM.
It's an event that tends to leave some people teary eyed. "It's very emotional. You've got people who made the tree lightning a tradition within their family," says Rashelle Beasley, chairwoman for "Lights of Love."
For twenty-five years now, Phoebe's "Lights of Love" has honored the many lives impacted by cancer throughout southwest Georgia.
"Whether it be in their family, whether it be a distant friend, whether it be a friend of a friend, There's not one person around here that cancer does not affect," she says.
In 2001, Beasley's mother was diagnosed with Leukemia. You can probably imagine her initial reaction upon learning the news. "Devastation. No one in our family had ever had cancer," she says.
Unfortunately, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country. But doctors say the survival rate is greatly improving.
"Well over fifty, sixty percent of our patients survive now," says Dr. Phillip Roberts with Phoebe Hospital. He treats about 1,300 new cancer patients a year.
"The treatments are much better. We're diagnosing it earlier, and we have better information, better understanding how to treat them," he says.
All the money raised from this special tree lighting ceremony will go toward making life a little easier for Phoebe's cancer patients.
"Including vans that pickup patients from outlying areas. We've bought TV monitors so people could have individual TVs when they get their treatments. They've remodeled rooms for us," he says.
"Over the past twenty-five tree lightnings, we have raised up until now one million one-hundred forty-two thousand dollars," says Beasley.
Even Beasley's own mother has reaped the benefits from the hospital's "Lights of Love" campaign. "Oh, most definitely. We spent many a time in the recliner that we helped provide," she says.
During every one of these events, a cancer survivor throws the switch to light the tree. This year that survivor is Sarah Underdown. She happens to be the president of the convention and visitors bureau in Albany. But because she is in Texas receiving a bone marrow transplant for Lymphoma, her nurse here at Phoebe will light the tree in her honor.
To donate to the Lights of Love project you can simply do so by calling the Phoebe Foundation at 312-4483.