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Boston Area Residents Help 'Shine a Light' on Lung Cancer

The top of Boston's Prudential Tower will go blue tonight as part of the awareness event.

Groups from in and around Boston, will “shine a light” on lung cancer during an awareness event scheduled today at the Prudential Tower, 800 Boylston St., Boston.

Started five years ago by Amesbury resident Diane Legg, a lung cancer survivor, the Boston Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil is one of more than 90 vigils being held across the country as well as in Australia, Egypt and Brazil, according to Charlestown resident and event organizer Julia Gaynor.

“The first vigil was at the State House and it was so successful we moved it to the Prudential Tower, where we were able to turn the top of the iconic building blue for lung cancer (November is lung cancer awareness month),” Gaynor said in an email.

The purpose of the event is to “shine a light” on lung cancer—a disease that carries with it the stigma of being a smoker.

“One in 14 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 85 percent of those will die within five years,” Gaynor said. “What most people don't know is that 80 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer either never smoked or quit smoking, usually decades ago.”

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an educational fair that features representatives from Massachusetts General Hospital, the Dana Farber Institute and other hospitals and lung cancer organizations that offer information and resources.

New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski will be this year’s honored guest and will help turn the top of the Prudential Tower blue for lung cancer awareness. WCVB TV news anchor Heather Unruh will be the event emcee. 

The Shine A Light vigil will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will feature three lung cancer patients telling their stories and doctors talking about the latest treatments and screening options for those at risk. There will also be a video booth where people can share their personal stories.

“The purpose of the vigil is to provide a place for lung cancer survivors, patients and the family of those who have lost loved ones to come together to remember and honor those loved ones—and to get inspired to help make a difference,” Gaynor said. “The other purpose of this vigil is to raise awareness of the disease, to get people talking, sharing their stories.”

Gaynor said she got involved with the Shine A Light on Lung Cancer Vigil after losing her mother to the disease five years ago. Both Digange and Monopoli have also lost loved ones to lung cancer, and Malloy is a lung cancer survivor, Gaynor said.

The New England Chapter of Lung Cancer Alliance sponsors the Boston event along with partner sponsors Dana Farber, MGH, Brigham & Women's and Lahey Clinic.

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