In November 1994, Sherry Allen woke up to severe pain in her right leg. She assumed it was a pinched nerve and scheduled a regular visit to her doctor for the next day. During her visit, Sherry had an MRI, which showed a tissue mass in her lower back pressing on a nerve. Sherry was instructed to contact a neurologist for a biopsy. During her pre-op blood work, it was discovered that Sherry’s white blood cell count was low and her platelets were high. She immediately had a bone marrow biopsy and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Sherry felt overwhelmed and afraid. Despite those feelings she she began seven days of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, daily blood draws, and more bone marrow biopsies. Sherry suffered from nausea and experienced hair loss. Luckily, after her first round of treatment, she went into remission and continued her treatments on an outpatient basis.
“I returned to work and to a normal life…or so I thought.”
Less than a year later, Sherry’s cancer returned. She was fighting a terrible cold that wouldn’t go away and contacted her doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Blood tests confirmed that Sherry’s white blood cell count was low and her leukemia had returned. Chemotherapy was no longer an option for treatment, and Sherry would need a bone marrow transplant. After only a few months on the bone marrow registry, a match was found. On January 9, 1997, Sherry underwent a life-changing bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota. She spent four months in the hospital, including 45 days in isolation until she was able to return home in April of that year.
This year marks 17 years of being cancer free for Sherry. She celebrates her survivorship by participating in the Glenview Light The Night Walk as an individual walker. She is also a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Steering Committee.
“The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provided my family and I the support we needed to get through this emotional and difficult period. I am so thankful to LLS for all they do and now I walk each year to raise money so that one day we will live in a world without cancer.”
The Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual fundraising walk to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling blood cancers. Thousands of participants raise funds for vital, life-saving research and patient services and, on this special night, they carry illuminated lanterns—white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to a blood cancer— to show the support of a caring community. Last year, participants raised nearly $2 million in Greater Illinois alone and more than $58 million nationwide.
The Light The Night Walk will be held Sunday, October 19 in Glenview at Gallery Park. The festivities will start at 4:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 6:00 p.m. For more information, questions or concerns please visit www.lightthenight.org/il or call (312)-651-7354.