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the night with

Hope By Lisa de los Reyes


he annual Light the Night Walk serves as an inspiration to cancer patients and their families and friends throughout the St. Louis area. The event raises funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which are used to provide research, lifesaving treatments and advocacy for those battling blood cancers. Meet this year’s Honored Heroes, who will be celebrated at the event.

Julia age 4

Julia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on June 20, 2014, a day her mother, Liz Drummond, remembers well. Julia had come down with a slight fever, and as she slept with her parents, she kept hitting them with her arms and legs. “We knew it was something,” Drummond recalls. “We didn’t feel like we could take her to the hospital, but we were concerned. Later, we found out that (the limb movement while sleeping) was probably a sign of the bone marrow breaking down in her long bones.” Usually an exceptionally energetic child, Julia also became very lethargic. Drummond brought her to the hospital three times, only to be told that it was probably a virus or mononucleosis and blood work wasn’t necessary, she recalls. A week after the third trip, seeing that Julia’s condition wasn’t improving, Drummond called the pediatrician, who approved blood work. “We got the results the next morning, and they said, ‘You need to be here when the office opens,’” she says. “Her hemoglobin was extremely low, and I think that 76 percent of her blood was cancer.” Julia was rushed to the emergency room and spent more than a month in intensive treatment during her initial hospital stay. During the past year, treatment has included chemotherapy as well as cranial radiation, Drummond says. “She’s been hospitalized many times; the simplest illness can really get her because the chemo can affect her immune system.” Despite her trials, Julia is “a riot,” according to Drummond. “She cracks people up wherever we go.” And she still has plenty of energy. “For a while, she thought her last name was Stop because she would always run away, and we would tell her, ‘Julia Drummond, stop!’ So when people asked her name, she would tell them ‘Julia Drummond Stop.’” After their first Light the Night Walk last year, Drummond says her family would never miss it: “I’ve never been so moved or inspired in my life. It was beautiful. The beginning was beautiful, but when it became dark and the lanterns came on, I have never been so in awe.”

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gram age 6

Gram was diagnosed with T-cell ALL leukemia on Feb. 10, 2014, according to his mom, Donielle Edwards. The first symptom was swollen lymph nodes, and the doctor originally thought he had mumps, she recalls. He was started on an antibiotic, but after three days the swelling had gotten worse, and he was also having severe nosebleeds. They took him to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and had blood work done, then received the ALL diagnosis. Gram was admitted for initial treatment, which included bone marrow biopsies at day one and day 30, as well as multiple chemotherapy treatments per week. After the 30-day biopsy, he was put in remission. “He still takes (oral) chemo

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September 4, 2015  

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, At Home with Ken and Phyllis Langsdorf, Fall Fashion, Game On! Frank Cusumano, Tangential Thinker, At Work with...