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Ornaments for the Love Light Tree at Decatur County Memorial Hospital are available for purchase in the hospital lobby. Donors are asked to purchase an ornament for $5 in honor of someone special. The money goes to help families dealing with the financial difficulty of cancer treatment.

GREENSBURG – Friday evening, Decatur County Memorial Hospital is kicking off the 2019 holiday season by hosting Santa, his reindeer, and elves in a celebration that gets better every year.

The annual DCMH Tree Lighting celebration is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 and will feature hot chocolate and cookies, the music of traveling violinists and an all-around good time for Christmas lovers far and near.

“I’ve had the Christmas spirit for about a month now, that’s how much I love Christmas,” DCMH Marketing Director Amy Shearer said.

Some aspects of this year’s celebration will be similar to previous tree lighting events hosted by the local hospital, but Shearer told the Daily News there will be some spectacular differences.

“We are still going to have the amazing lights we always do, but this year we’re having a very special secret personality flip the switch,” she said.

Attending the annual event is especially good for warming the heart and getting the correct festive holiday mood started, but a very special reason for attending sets in the corner of the hospital lobby.

The Love Light Tree

A simple artificial tree, bare but for the brilliant white lights that bedeck its limbs, sits unadorned.

“Every year, we offer this as an opportunity for people to purchase ornaments for or in memory of a loved one or someone they just want to honor. We have them here at the desk, and we put them on the tree with your name written on them,” Shearer said.

Medical expenses related to cancer treatment in the year 2020 are projected to reach at least $158 billion, an increase of 27 percent from 2010, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis. If newly developed tools for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care continue to be more expensive, medical expenditures for cancer could reach as high as $207 billion, said the researchers from the National Cancer Institute, part of the NIH.

These projections were based on the most recent data available on cancer incidence, survival, and costs of care.

In 2010, medical costs associated with cancer were projected to reach $124.6 billion, with the highest costs associated with breast cancer ($16.5 billion), followed by colorectal cancer ($14 billion), lymphoma ($12 billion), lung cancer ($12 billion) and prostate cancer ($12 billion).

There are currently an estimated 16.9 million people in the U.S. who have received a cancer diagnosis. For them, the disease comes with many hardships, from the physical and the emotional to the financial.

Not only is cancer one of the most expensive medical conditions to treat, but even those with good medical insurance face an added burden from other aspects of treatment such as travel expenses and increased time off from work.

“We really try to help folks, and we know how expensive medical care is nowadays,” Shearer said. “The money made from these ornaments go to a cancer family in need, and at the end of the season we compile all those memorials into an article for the Daily News, so folks help each other in two ways.”

Friday’s tree lighting ceremony and related activities are available at no charge and the public is encouraged to attend.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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