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Texas Oncology-McAllen Lights Up a Community with a Special Holiday Tradition

The holidays are especially tough for cancer patients and their families. To lift their spirits and to reflect on their journey, Texas Oncology–McAllen began a special tradition six years ago with an annual holiday tree lighting that has become a popular community gathering.

Texas Oncology–McAllen employees join patients, caregivers, and the local community at the tree lighting, which is held in partnership with local non-profit, Infinite Love, founded by Geeta Thadani. It serves to unify the community, remembering those they have lost and encouraging patients in treatment.

“Every light sends a new spirit of love, hope, and joy through the hearts of our patients, their families, and the community,” says Texas Oncology–McAllen Medical Director Dr. Billie Marek.

Texas Oncology–McAllen Practice Director Gloria Perez adds, “We wanted to do something to lift spirits during the holidays and also bring together the community our patients call home.”

The event has grown each year, with more and more members of the community participating to show their support. Survivors and current patients share their stories to encourage others and shed light on the hard realities of cancer.

The tree – made of string lights and large ribbons representing various cancer types– is now surrounded by brick stones inscribed by attendees with memorials to loved ones they’ve lost.

“Every story we hear is so touching,” Perez says. “You see survivors who have gone through some difficult times, and you’re reminded that there is hope.”

This event reflects the supportive environment the team has created in McAllen as one that puts others first.

“We are a family,” Perez says. “These patients are a part of our family and we love coming alongside them every year for this special moment.”