WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A thousand candles were lit to celebrate the lives of those affected by cancer on Monday. It was a sea of light in western Massachusetts with the community uniting for a luminary ceremony to honor and recognize those lives.

Center for Human Development’s (CHD) Cancer House of Hope hosted its annual Luminaria on the West Springfield Town Common on Monday. The Community members remembering and encouraging people in their lives who have had a cancer diagnosis, by purchasing a luminary and dedicating it in their honor at this event. That light symbolizing hope that one day soon there will be a cure for cancer.

“Healing is the process of making the human being whole again,” expressed CHD Board Member Evan Plotkin.

A night of healing for so many who have been touched in some way by cancer. Friends, families, survivors, and those fighting the deadly disease gathering to say you are not alone.

Anne Abbot, a 14 year breast cancer survivor, told 22News, “I think people need to know that everyone has had somebody who has had cancer. It shouldn’t be a secret. You should deal with it and let people help you, get through the journey.”

That journey leading so many here to the West Springfield town common to light 1000 luminaries, each with a name and their cancer story behind it.

“It’s like lighting ‘the light’, it means life,” said Margaret Toomey, the Director at Cancer House of Hope, “It just means so many things to so many people.”

“I always think of it as hope, everyone can surround each other with some love and hope,” added Abbot.

That hope glowing bright in the night. Both The American Cancer Society and the CDC reporting overall cancer death rates declining among men, women, and children, and that igniting that inner spark in so many to continue fighting for a cure.

“It helps to change one’s conscientiousness, from one of hope to one of belief,” said Plotkin.

With the $20,000 that has been raised for this event, all of the proceeds will support wellness programs and will also support services offered at Cancer House of Hope.

Mayor Will Reichelt of West Springfield lit the first candle at 5:20 p.m. CHD President and CEO Jim Goodwin, CHD VP of Community Engagement Ben Craft, Cancer House of Hope Director Margaret Toomey, and CHD Board Member Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin were all in attendance Monday night.

You can learn more about CHD’s Cancer House of Hope at their website.