As a radiology technician with Community Hospital Women’s Diagnostic Center in Munster, Laura Zlamal helps women understand the importance of regular mammography screenings for early detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer runs in her family. Both her mother and grandmother survived breast cancer diagnoses.
When asked if she would participate in a study for a new method of screening women with dense breast tissue – the new Rapid Breast MRI – that aims to increase early detection rates; Zlamal jumped at the chance.
“At the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, we have made strides in early detection with new 3D technology and same day results,” she said. “But, the Rapid Breast MRI is something that can help women specifically with dense breasts and potentially change the way we diagnose cancer in the future.”
For her dedication to breast cancer research and the advancement of survivorship, Zlamal has been named as the guest of honor who will light the trees at the Lights of Life ceremony this year. The pink and lavender holiday lights will shine outside Community Hospital in Munster with the hope that a cure will be found for cancer.
For the past 17 years, holiday lights on the Lights of Life trees outside Community Hospital in Munster have been illuminated and serve as a reminder of the journey of hope that goes along with a cancer diagnosis. Each brilliant pink and lavender light on the Lights of Life trees represents a donation made to the Community Cancer Research Foundation, Inc. The Foundation supports important cancer research initiatives that improve the community’s access to the latest advances in prevention, detection and treatment of breast and other cancers.
Nearly 200 area residents gather in attendance as the pine trees – with lavender and pink lights – are illuminated in honor those touched by cancer. The pink trees represent those with breast cancer and the lavender trees symbolize all types of cancer.
Donors and their honorees are invited to the tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Community Hospital Outpatient entrance off Columbia and Fisher Avenues. Anyone may participate and “purchase” a light for the Lights of Life trees to honor a special person in their life. Each light represents a $5 donation, which may be made to the Community Cancer Research Foundation. For a $15 donation, a pink breast cancer awareness pin, a lavender cancer awareness pin, or a Hope lapel cancer awareness pin can also be sent to honorees along with a gift card in addition to reserving a light.
Special musical entertainment will accompany the tree-lighting, including a performance by Christopher Davis. Davis has participated in numerous shows at The Theatre at the Center in Munster. His past credits include Ernst in Cabaret. He is currently Bert, the Cop in A Wonderful Life: The Musical! Besides freelance shows, he frequents the Chicagoland TYA scene, The Murder Mystery Company and works with adults with intellectual disabilities at a group home. Two years ago, he lost his dear friend Amy to cancer. She was an equity actress and loving mother. Christopher is proud to honor Amy’s memory and his Aunt Chris, who succumbed to cancer 15 years ago. He will be performing the song "Anytime (I am There)" by William Finn.
The Lights of Life program began in 2000. To date, the Lights of Life program has raised more than $175,000 to bring cancer research programs to people in Northwest Indiana.
After the tree-lighting ceremony, all attendees are invited inside for refreshments following the program. Cards and pins will be sent out until Dec. 31. All donations to the program are tax deductible and are used to sponsor local research trials for area patients. For more information on this program, call 219-836-6875. Donations are also accepted online at: www.myccrf.com/lights_of_life.asp.