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Phoebe shines ‘Lights’ on cancer battle

Canticum Novum, a choral assembly from Porterfield United Methodist Church of Albany, sings “O Holy Night” at the 28th “Lights of Love” tree-lighting ceremony at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Monday. This year, the event’s campaign has raised $40,000 for area cancer patient support services.

Canticum Novum, a choral assembly from Porterfield United Methodist Church of Albany, sings “O Holy Night” at the 28th “Lights of Love” tree-lighting ceremony at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Monday. This year, the event’s campaign has raised $40,000 for area cancer patient support services.

ALBANY, Ga. — With the holiday season in Albany comes recognition of those who are battling some of the most life-threatening of all illnesses.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Junior Woman’s Club of Albany celebrated the 28th “Lights of Love” ceremony Monday evening.

“Lights of Love” is an annual tree-lighting ceremony that gives members of the community an opportunity to honor or remember their loved ones while donating funds to cancer patients and their families.

Michele Bates, the Lights of Love chair, said that nearly $40,000 had been raised through the campaign this year — $3,000 more than what was raised last year.

“Lights of Love holds different meanings to different people,” Bates said. “This project directly impacts the community.”

David Campbell, a pancreatic cancer survivor, was chosen as this year’s tree lighter.

Following remarks from Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick, Dr. Chirag Jani, a hematologist/oncologist at the Phoebe Cancer Center and Campbell’s doctor, took the stage.

“I know each one of you has been touched with life-threatening cancer in some way,” Jani said of the reason for the event.

Jani also credited Wernick, the cancer center staff and others for the accomplishments Phoebe has made in the battle against cancer through research and treatment.

“In making this happen, we have made great strides,” he said. “We have worked hard in the last two years, and I am happy patients don’t have to travel to get this care.

“I myself feel blessed.”

Campbell then told the audience at the ceremony of his battle with cancer — which included a series of hospital stays in New York as well as at Phoebe — and how he felt his support network made a difference for him.

“Our cause and why we are here is so important,” he said. “I was blessed, but so many people are not blessed like this.

“This project is super-important. It’s a medical education, and people need it.”

This year’s donations will benefit all area cancer patients in need of counseling, education and resource materials, as well as help to create a place to find solace and peace in the midst of their health situations.

The money donated this year will furnish and provide a private counseling area, a resource library in the Phoebe Cancer Center — where patients and family members can read, listen to, or check out resource materials to help them through their journey with cancer — and a meditation room for patients and guests to visit when they need a place to pray or find solitude.

“Very specific needs will be met this year,” said Bates.

This year’s program was dedicated to Lillian Lackland Sullivan, a former Charity League volunteer. She is the mother of Tom Sullivan, a senior vice president at Phoebe.

Canticum Novum, a choral assembly from Porterfield United Methodist Church, served as the entertainment for the event. Its conductor, Steven Kelly Jones, sang “O Holy Night” as the tree was being lit in the hospital lobby.