Team Sonoma Gathers to Fight Blood Cancer at Light the Night, Oct. 11

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The Dean of the School of Business, his son, and courageous SSU sophomore Sophie Edwards know the battle against blood cancer well. SSU mounts a team for the Light the Night Walk on Oct. 11 as a fundraising event for cancer research and patient services. 

 When Benji Silver was three months old, he was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer. At that point in his life, at such a young age, he was given a 30 percent chance of life. After three years of treatment and constant hospital visits, Benji survived leukemia. He is now healthy and happy 11 years later at age 14. 

His father, Dean of Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics William Silver, considers his son a "conquerer" for more reasons than one, including his appreciation for life and his strength to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Leukemia affects roughly 50,000 Americans with a new diagnosis each year and Benji is one of the luckier ones affected by the blood cancer, but he gained something from the experience too. "Benji knows he is a cancer survivor and this has given him a quiet confidence that he can conquer anything," said Silver. 

 "Fortunately, Benji's treatment was very successful, and he has lived a relatively normal life. He went through his treatment when he was very young and doesn't remember most of it." September was Blood Cancer Awareness Month, promoted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is dedicated to funding the research and education of blood cancer.  

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society played a crucial role in the Silvers' journey in battling cancer at such a young age "[The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society] helped us by supporting cancer research; research which resulted in the treatments that saved Benji's life," said Silver 

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is hosting the Light the Night Walk on Oct. 11 as a fundraising event for cancer research and patient services. Silver is the Leadership Chair for the event in Old Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa. 

 He sees fundraising events like the Light the Night Walk as an opportunity to give back to others who are experiencing the hardships and adversity that cancer brings to families. Those interested in walking with the SSU community can visit the team's webpage athttp://pages.lightthenight.org/gba/NorthBay14/SonomaState

 "I am proud to be part of this activity and to help raise money and awareness for this important organization," said Silver. "The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was there to help my family when we were fighting my cancer. Now I can be there to help others."

Sonoma State University is also home to students who have been affected by blood cancer, including sophomore Sophie Edwards. Edwards (right) was diagnosed at age 15 with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that primarily affects young adults in their 20s."

[Cancer] isolated me because I had to do my sophomore year [of high school] online because I was too sick to go to school. That was the only bad thing besides the fact of having cancer," said Edwards. 

"A lot of good things came out of the experience too. I feel like I became a whole different person and had a new perspective on life and I became more grateful for things." 

 Another positive aspect that Edwards feels that came out of her battle with Lymphoma was having the constant support of her family and friends, which gave her hope in the fight against cancer. "I began to cherish all the moments I had with my family," she said. Edwards is a member of the Lambda Kappa Pi sorority at SSU.  

Each sorority at Sonoma State is dedicated to a specific philanthropy effort, and Lambda Kappa Pi has chosen to partner with the North Bay chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Last spring, Edwards was nominated for the society's Woman of the Year award after she raised nearly $10,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. 

 Edwards acknowledges the importance of having a support system and hope when dealing with cancer at any age. "Make sure you surround yourself who are really going to help you through it and be supportive," she said. "Don't give up--and be strong. It gets easier." 

  - Kayla Galloway
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