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Candlelight vigil salutes Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Sept. 15

Survivors of childhood cancer, their parents and supporters will participate in a candlelight vigil Friday, Sept. 15 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby at University Hospital, 750 East Adams Street.

The purpose of the vigil is to recognize September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to focus attention on the need for research, to honor the survivors and to remember those children who lost their lives to cancer. The ceremony is open to the public.

Speakers will be Ronald Dubowy, M.D., director of University Hospital's Center for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders, and Joanne Ondrako, president of Parent Reach Out Program (PROP), a University Hospital-based group for parents of children with cancer. Upstate Homecare will provide light refreshments and instrumentalists Mark and Dan Ozminkowski will perform as the candles are lighted.

"This annual vigil brings together young cancer patients, their families and many of the health professionals who care for them," Ondrako said. "We hope that it also creates a greater awareness in our community of childhood cancer and the need to support research in this field."

Currently one in every 330 Americans develop cancer during childhood or adolescence. Thanks to cooperative research, cure rates have improved from less than 10 percent 30 years ago to the present 75 percent. Ondrako noted that while cure rates have improved dramatically, little progress has been made in the prevention and early detection of childhood cancer.

Dubowy noted that University Hospital is the only hospital in Central New York to offer