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James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital Goes Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Light tower color changed today

September 02, 2014 by Amy Holcombe

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 2, 2014



Contact: Amy Holcombe, Vidant Health Corporate Communications, amy.holcombe@vidanthealth.com or 252-847-2725

James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital Goes Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Light tower color changed today



GREENVILLE- “It’s just this evil poison.” That’s how Tommi Galaska, the mother of nine-year-old, Rhettec, described her son’s battle with cancer. Rhettec was diagnosed with T-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has been fighting the illness since February 2014. It’s a heartbreaking story listening to him talk about the pain he’s going through and describing his battle as “fighting fire with fire,” and then saying “I can’t have fun.” 

That’s the reality of childhood cancer. “Your life stops. You’re forced to stop,” said Galaska. 

September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center is participating by turning the light wall gold for 12 hours (until midnight tonight). Gold is the color that represents Childhood Cancer Awareness. In the U.S., almost 13,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year; approximately 1/4 of them will not survive the disease. 

Before her family was dealt this awful blow, Galaska said that she had no idea the numbers of people who are affected by this. She went on to say, “We have got to find cures. We have got to work hard to get this stuff taken care of.” That’s what the staff at James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center strives to do every day. The light wall is one of the first things you see when you approach the hospital, as it illuminates the building with vibrant blue lights. 

Beginning at noon on Tuesday, September 2, the light wall will turn gold and remain that way until midnight. Galaska hopes that the change will get people asking questions. “When we see that difference up there, we’re going to go, ‘why that color?’ It sparks the question.” Galaska said she hopes the light wall turning gold will start spreading the word about childhood cancer. 

“Fighting childhood cancer is of top importance to the hospital and the community, and it was a driving force behind the development of the new tower and its light wall,” said Dr. Ronald Perkin, co-medical director and pediatrician-in-chief for the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. “With this joint effort, we hope that by changing the light from blue to gold, it will show that we are, and will remain, dedicated to the fight against cancer and to the patients and families fighting their fight.”

Susan Sugg, manager of child life services at Vidant Medical Center, recognizes the need to bring attention to the battle that so many children plagued by cancer are fighting. She explains that, “many of our pediatric patients battle these conditions, and we want the patients and family members to know they are not alone on the journey. By turning our lights to gold, we are hoping to draw the community's attention on the need to continue to join the fight against these cancers.”



While cancer is the leading cause of death nationally, the needs are even more pressing in eastern North Carolina. Here, approximately 7,200 residents are diagnosed with cancer each year (almost 20 a day — one every 77 minutes). Approximately 3,000 (equivalent to 45 percent of those diagnosed annually) will die from cancer (almost eight per day — one every three hours). 



PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Beng Fuh, director of pediatric hematology/oncology for ECU Physicians, flips the switch to change the tower and interior lights to gold. 
 
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