‘I have to fight this’

Concordia Student Goes Out and Walks for a Cure Against Leukemia

Alyssa Brandone was 11 when she was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a disease she fought with everything she had and ultimately defeated.

“I remember my brother coming to me at night and we made a pact where he was going to make his hockey team if I made it through this,” she said. “I really wanted him to make that hockey team.”

Brandone went into remission after her first chemotherapy treatment, but she had to continue with the treatments to remain in remission.

“I made it thanks to the support of friends and family, who sent positive vibes my way,” she said.

“I remember asking a lot of questions, like whether or not it was treatable and how long I’d have to spend in the hospital,” Brandone continued.

“That night I just broke down crying, and then I realized, I have to fight this.”

Brandone, a second-year art history student at Concordia University, has dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort to raising money for Light the Night Walk, a fundraising event held all across North America to garner financial support for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.

Coming into her third year as a participant, Brandone has been made an Honoured Hero and her team is already the biggest monetary contributor, raising upwards of $25,000 in its first year and growing ever since.

“My parents found out about [Light the Night Walk] through a friend and decided to raise money, and we thought, next year we want to be number one,” said Brandone.

“[The honoured heroes] are meant to be mentors and coaches to the rest of the participants,” said Patricia Gilmore, Coordinator for Light the Night Walk. The walk will be held at Parc Jean Drapeau on Oct. 2.

Participants will be given balloons with LED lights inside, adorning the night with a five-kilometer procession of light.

“There is no fundraising minimum to walk. We are trying to encourage people to raise money and have fun with it; it’s a fundraising and awareness campaign,” said Gilmore.

“The main idea is to get people registered and fundraising. The goal is to cure blood cancer.”

Brandone is heading this year’s Concordia team, which hopes to raise awareness and money while engaging in a bit of friendly competition with the McGill team, who raised $10,000 last year. This year’s fundraising goal in the Quebec region is $3,000,000.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 03, published August 31, 2010.