Nfld. & Labrador

With three students surviving blood cancer, Holy Spirit shows its support

Three students at Holy Spirit High School in Conception Bay South are blood cancer survivors, and they shared their experiences Thursday.

High school event a precursor to the Light the Night fundraiser for leukemia and lymphoma patients

The three Holy Spirit students wear shirts that say 'Survivor.' (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

The gym at Holy Spirit High School was alight with lanterns Thursday as the school community gathered to show their support for three of their own who are living with blood cancer.

Three students at the Conception Bay South high school are blood cancer survivors, and their stories put a relatable face to the disease for the student body.

"I hope people get more knowledge on childhood cancer and what we have to go through, and the amount of support that we need," said Logan Millard, who was diagnosed with blood cancer in January.

Millard, as well as fellow students Ryan Ricard and Aaron Rumbolt, spoke about his experiences with cancer and how the support of not just his family but his friends has been important. His hockey teammates were there to show that support, sitting in the front row of the school gymnasium with their jerseys on.

Ricard, who was diagnosed in February 2018, said he was nervous about speaking at the event, which featured former premier Paul Davis, who is a board member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, spoke with him, Millard and Rumbolt about their experiences.

"They've been through a tremendous amount for their very, very young ages," said Davis, who added that he considers the three boys heroes.

Ryan Ricard, left, and Logan Millard are students at Holy Spirit High School, and are both blood cancer survivors. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Michelle Lambert, the society's Newfoundland and Labrador manager, agreed, saying the event was both beautiful and overwhelming.

"They should be having fun and not having the worries that they have," Lambert said.

Light the Night

The event is a precursor to a larger one in Paradise on Saturday, the society's annual Light the Night fundraiser.

"It's a night where we celebrate those that have beaten blood cancer, we support those that are going through a cancer journey currently, and we also remember those that have been lost to blood cancer," Davis said.

The money raised during the Light the Night event supports people in the province with leukemia and lymphoma, says former premier Paul Davis. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)
 

The fundraiser, at Paradise Park, is a family-friendly event, Lambert said, that will include live music, a ceremony and a walk around the pond with close to 1,500 people who have registered to carry lanterns: white for survivors, red for supporters and gold for those who have died.

The money raised from the event provides direct support to people in the province living with blood cancers, Davis said, and to their families. That support includes not only the medical research that has increased five-year survival rates for blood cancers over the years, but also a telephone support line with professional staff, he said.

Holy Spirit students hold lanterns to show support for those living with blood cancer. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Millard said he hopes people who attend the event, and people at Thursday's school event, realize that the money raised doesn't just go to a corporation or a large organization it supports people in the province with the disease. 

As for the students themselves, both Millard and Rumbolt said having someone in the same class going through the same thing has been valuable, because it means someone to share the negatives with and the opportunity to support each other when needed.

"It makes it a lot easier," Millard said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Alex Kennedy

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