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Lighting the way for Shane Kramer

Leukemia victim's family to take part in 'Light the Night Walk'

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Shane Kramer lost his battle with follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma in January 2013. His mom, Susan, will take part in the Light the Night Walk on the Portland waterfront on Saturday in Shane's honor. As is often the case with young cancer patients, Shane Kramer had to work his way through a process before finding peace with his diagnosis of follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“He was a terrible patient at first,” says his mother, Susan Kramer. “When you first hear about it, you’re angry. It’s also the way the medications play with your mind. You have to take steroids. There’s ‘roid rage,’ so you go in and out of that. But that led him to a sense of peacefulness.”

After suffering a bad reaction to chemotherapy meant to prepare him for a bone-marrow transplant, Shane died in January 2013 at age 38. To honor his memory, Beaverton residents Susan and Lindsey Kramer, Shane’s wife, will trek 1.75 miles along the downtown Portland waterfront on Saturday as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2014 Light the Night Walk fundraising and awareness event.

The walk brings together families and communities to honor blood cancer survivors, as well as those lost to the diseases, to shed light on the importance of finding cures and providing access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

Funds raised by Light the Night participants are intended to help advance breakthrough therapies for blood-cancer patients such as targeted therapies that attack cancer cells as well as immunotherapies that use a patient’s own immune system to eliminate cancerous cells.

Patients’ friends, families and co-workers form fundraising teams and, with millions of consumers’ help, donate at numerous retail outlets. Their efforts culminate in evening walks held each fall in nearly 200 communities across North America. Oregon residents are invited to join the 2014 Light the Night Walk by registering at lightthenight.org/oswim. Registration is free, but participants are encouraged to raise funds on their own to support the organization’s mission of ensuring access to treatment for blood cancer patients.

“Fundraising is imperative to our mission, but anyone can contribute to our cause by committing to walking on the evening of October 25,” said Katelyn Callaghan, the event’s campaign manager. “Every little bit helps.”

A remembrance ceremony will precede the walk to honor loved ones lost to cancer and pay tribute to their lives and legacies. Once the walk starts, participants will hold lanterns high in the air as supporters march along the downtown esplanade along the Willamette River. Entertainment, food and beverages will be provided throughout the event.

Susan Kramer, a retired engineering manager for Lockheed-Martin, moved from Arizona to the Murrayhill neighborhood to assist Shane and Lindsey after her son’s diagnosis. Hearing about this year’s walk, Susan and Lindsey pulled together “Team Shane” with about 10 people, including relatives, co-workers and friends. The group has already surpassed its initial goal to raise $1,000.

“I know the (foundation) does a lot of good things,” Susan says. “Even though Shane has passed away, we want to continue to try to give back and continue his name. We have a good representation.”

Shane, who was diagnosed at age 34, worked as a musician, truck driver and Internet-based entrepreneur, among other endeavors. Through a friend who encouraged him to read up on Buddhist practices, Shane found the peace to navigate his illness through meditation.

“Meditation was his saving grace,” Susan says. “Once he learned how to do it, he would do it every day. It brought him a sense of peace and being able to deal with (his illness and treatments). He was always trying to convince me to read about it.”

Susan, who decided to make Beaverton her home after her son’s death, envisions being part of the Light the Night Walk every year to spread the word about a type of cancer that, unfortunately, is affecting more people all the time.

“We definitely need to get the word out,” she says, noting that many other types of cancer are on the decline. “They’re finding cures, but blood cancers (are among those) growing. We need to let people know they’re growing and that by doing research, we can reverse that trend.”

What: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2014 Light the Night Walk, a 1.75-mile non-competitive walk to raise funds and awareness for blood cancer research

Where: Walk begins at Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and traverses along the downtown Portland waterfront

When: Saturday, Oct. 25, at 5 p.m.

To register or donate. Visit: lightthenight.org/oswim.

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