For more information on donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or to find out how to participate in other LLS fundraisers, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-398-4358.
Linda Newsome is not the same woman she was in February 2009 — that’s when doctors handed her a near fatal diagnosis and prepared her for what would soon become the hardest battle of her life.
She had an untreatable form of mantle cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — and to make matters worse, it was already Stage IV.
Despite her bleak prognosis, Newsome started an aggressive chemotherapy treatment and slowly regained her health. Earlier this month, Newsome said she’s proud to be four years cancer free. But even though the mother and business woman can smile and laugh at her struggles now, she said she still can’t bear the thought of anyone enduring the same pain that she did.
“It just breaks my heart. I’m a mom and I know what I went through as a cancer patient and I don’t want any of our children to have to go through that,” Newsome said. “Richmond Hill has had enough heartbreak from cancer already.”
Newsome is referencing the stories of Evan Nelms and Dylan Moore, two of Richmond Hill’s youngest cancer victims. Evan was just 5 years old when he passed away earlier this year from leukemia. Dylan, 11, is happily in remission but fought a rare case of acute lymphoblastic leukemia for much of his young life.
And while Evan’s early passing makes him just one of the nearly 1,500 boys and girls under the age of 14 who die every year from blood cell cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute, Newsome is one of many men and women in Richmond Hill who are doing something to take a bite out of that statistic.
“It started with a just a group of friends that wanted to do something about blood cell cancer and were participating in the annual Light the Night walks sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” Newsome said. “It wasn’t until we met Patti Todd that my family and I decided to join Team Lifesavers.”
Team Lifesavers is one of three groups in Richmond Hill that raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was started by Todd, a local photographer, in 2006 when her own sister-in-law, Jan Pound, was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Pound is now in remission, but her experiences motivated Todd to take part in a larger battle. She is now the Team Lifesavers captain and said she’s proud to have three cancer survivors on her team.
“This team is very important to me because two people in my immediate family have been affected by cancer,” Todd said. “I want to raise as much awareness about LLS as I can and really, I have to think about my children. I want to help find a cure and that’s why I’m so passionate.”
This month, Newsome and Todd partnered with Team Dylan and Team Evan to organize an unusual fundraiser for LLS: Shoot to Kill Cancer, a clay shooting event set for 8 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Dorchester Shooting Preserve in Midway.
Newsome said she wanted to do something out-of-the-box this year, and with a little help from an Atlanta-based team called Stick it to Cancer, she came up with an outdoor fundraiser that would be fun for marksmen of all levels.
“It’s just a fun way for us to all come together and raise money for research,” Newsome said. “And it’s an all-levels shoot. You can be a great marksman, but if you’re not, you can still have a great time.”
Registration ended on Friday for the event, but Newsome already has 13 teams signed up and $7,000 raised. She said she hopes to raise an additional $2,000 in raffles and door prizes during the event.