NORTH LIBERTY– When Bill Nash went to the doctor to have his arm checked out, the last thing he expected was to begin a life-changing battle with cancer. But when doctors told him he had lymphoma, they quickly removed a lymph node tumor in his armpit, and started him on a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“Your head spins. You’re getting poked and prodded. You’re at the mercy of the doctors,” Bill said. He said it happened so fast, there wasn’t time to think about what to do or how to pay for it.
That’s where groups like Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) can assisst, through family support services and education outreach programs that helped the Nash family stand their ground.
This year Bill is celebrating two years “lymphoma strong” (cancer free) and is leading a group of friends and family, Team Liberty Lymphocytes, at the LLS Light the Night Walk on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Bill’s wife, Lindsay, was in his corner for the duration. She was also pregnant with their third child, who was born just after Bill received his final treatment from the Iowa Blood and Cancer Center and Mercy Radiology in Cedar Rapids.
Lindsay said LLS helped pay for Bill’s treatment, so now it’s their turn to give back to others who need help.
She’s in charge of the silent auction at this year’s event and has started working part-time for LLS. The non-profit is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing support to patients and their families.
All of the money raised will go to LLS’s fight against cancer and the group boasts that no money goes to advertising, which is secured solely through donations.
The hardest part for her was “being able to get away to appointments with Bill,” she said, while juggling their schedules, caring for two young ones and carrying their newest family member, Carley Jo, now two years old.
“Chemo stinks!” Bill said, but, “I wasn’t going to be down. I tried to stay positive.”
Lindsay agreed, “Positive mind, support of family, friends and community is so important.
“Yes, we struggled but it would have been worse if LLS didn’t have programs to help patients financially through the expenses,” Lindsay said.
“I just want others to know how important walks such as this one are, not just Light the Night Walk, but other cancer walks and benefits too,” she added.
Bill was lucky; his cancer was detected early and he’s been a lymphoma survivor since June 2009. If he stays cancer-free for another year, he’ll be declared “in remission.”
“Blood cancer is scary. It doesn’t just go away,” Lindsay said. She still worries that Bill’s next blood test could show the disease has returned and they’d have to endure another round of treatments. Altogether, Bill underwent four chemotherapy treatments and 26 radiation sessions in all.
Bill and Lindsay have been given another chance with their young family and they know not everyone is as fortunate. That’s why they give back to LLS.
“I’ve donated my time and heart into this and do not want to let anyone down, especially those fighting this battle. This has hit home more than four times in our immediate family,” Lindsay said. “We have been very blessed and we thank God daily, with our children, that we are still a whole family. Some aren’t as lucky as we are.”
The twilight event will be held at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Survivors like Bill will carry a white balloon with a tiny blinking light inside. Family and friends will have red balloons, and gold balloons will be carried in memory of loved ones lost to cancer. At the end of the walk, the lighted balloons will be released to carry a message of hope, symbolizing the ongoing struggle against the deadly disease.
After all the doctor visits, surgery, chemo and radiation treatments, Bill remains upbeat. “This has changed my life but in a very positive way. Now I’m focused on helping others as they (LLS) helped me.”
Over 200 communities across the country will celebrate the 10th annual Light the Night this year. To donate items, services, or gift cards to the silent auction contact Lindsay Nash at 665-9768 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The event will also have children’s activities, food from local sponsors, live music from country-rock band Boothill Ridge, and appearances by Mrs. Iowa All World Beauties 2011, Elaine Reinholz and Mrs. Iowa International 2010, Feryl York.
To register your Light the Night team or to join the twilight walk on Oct. 1 visit www.lightthenight.org  or call 1-877-LTN-WALK (1-877-586-9255). Registration begins at 5 p.m.