Strength of Heart

It’s strange how everything can change in an instant. How one’s world can suddenly disintegrate and turn upside down while everyone else carries on. Each year, the parents of approximately 15,300 kids experience this when they hear the words “your child has cancer.”

Across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economics, this disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Despite this, less than 4% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year. Unfortunatley, many of us have been affected by cancer in some way. Whether it is you, a relative or friend, life changes in that instant.

There are times when I question my faith and it happens each time I am told of another child getting diagnosed with cancer. It just doesn’t seem fair that when they should be outside playing and riding bikes their innocence of that childhood is taken away. The days now consist of doctor appointments, tests, medicines, surgeries and more unpleasantries.

When a person under the age of 18 gets cancer, it is called childhood or pediatric cancer. In the United States, about 12,500 children every year are found to have cancer. Doctors do not know why some children get cancer. They do know that children can’t “catch” cancer from someone else – it is not contagious. So, if you know someone with cancer, you should not be afraid to be around them – you can play and talk to them just like anyone else.

Although most children with cancer will get better, cancer is a very serious disease and doctors have to work very hard to find the right ways to get rid of cancer in children. So, when a child gets cancer, the doctors will give special cancer medicines or have the person get a special surgery to remove the cancer cells. Most of the time, the cancer goes away and does not come back! Sometimes the cancer does not go away and the child gets sicker and even dies. This is what happened to Alex Scott, the little girl who started Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Girl Talk Marlton sets up a lemonade stand every year to donate to the foundation.

I have seen the spirit of children fighting the disease and it is courageous. The word courage comes from the Old French word for “heart.” So when someone says those battling cancer have courage, it means “strength of heart.”  Their body might win or lose, but their hearts will never give up.

One such girl in my life has a special place in my heart. Her amazing smile and upbeat attitude is always radiant as she shows the world the true definition of a fighter!  It’s nothing less than miraculous. She is strong for her family, she is strong for other cancer patients and most of all, she is strong for herself. She inspires others to fight back and never lose hope. She, to me, is an inspiration and a real hero.

I encourage all to do their part in raising awareness of childhood cancer so that the innocence of childhood can be experienced by every child.

Girl Talk Marlton will be holding a fundraiser in May to benefit The Alexa’s Butterfly friends (http://www.alexasfriends.com/). For more information please contact: girltalkmarlton@gmail.com

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Cancer Statistics

  • Cancer is diagnosed each year in about 175,000 children ages 14 and under worldwide.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy for U.S. children.
  • However, thanks to better therapies, more than 80% of U.S. childhood cancer patients now become long-term survivors.
  • Survival rates can vary depending on the type of cancer.
  • About 420,000 childhood cancer survivors live in the U.S., with many more around the world.

*Statistics by St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our teens. Our voice. Our world? by Olivia Demmler (center in pic) age 14

Some of you may be offended with what I’m about to say and prepare yourself because I cried when I heard about this. Written by a teen who heard about something unimaginable happen on February 14, 2018. How can this even be our world? What will be different about this school shooting? Is there a way to make a change? Who do we confide in? All of these questions I asked myself when I heard about what happened in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

636542839634075922-AP-School-Shooting-Florida.1I wasn’t at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but I was still affected because most of those kids who sadly passed away were my age. A 19 year old should never have an AR-15 let alone one who’s mentally disturbed. I posted something on Instagram it said, “ We need change. We deserve change. We can’t let innocent people keep on dying we’ve had enough #enoughisenough. There are so many things wrong with the world we live in right now and what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is only the beginning of it.

dab95bd742064c529b292ea44b48cb43.jpgTo spread change I’m no longer asking I’m begging for you to march. March so we know we’re not alone. March so change will come. March because there’s so much more to life than just sitting down thinking about how you could have made a difference. March for every life lost during the school shootings. March because this is somehow our reality. I literally cried while writing this so please I’m begging all of those who don’t feel like they have a voice trust me you do.

Personally I want to have kids and I want them to go to school in an environment they can trust with people they can trust. Seeing how someone can walk into a school with an AR-15 and decide to kill 17 innocent people is unbelievable and to be honest I don’t trust schools that much. Hopefully our future generations never have to go through something like this. Finally, there have been 18 incidents where a gun has been brought on school property like wth. Honestly we need to put the politics aside and focus on public safety. This situation is not red and blue and we can’t point fingers if someone says something we don’t like.

180217-parkland-victims-16up-composite_f28d54947a0ad694bc02699c473e6dc2.nbcnews-fp-1200-800When I heard about this I cried those were kids my and most of our leaders age that ended up dying. I hate to say it but that could’ve been anyone of us. We can’t get through a normal day without hearing that someone’s been shot. We should send thoughts and prayers but we should also take action. I think all of these kids have heard enough of thoughts and prayers.

Capture-5Someone or some group needs to take action and do something. Schools will never be the same. Lives will never be the same. If you saw the CNN Town Hall for the victims. Well Ted Deutch (Representative) for Florida said something very important, “it is not — it is not too soon; it is too late for the 17 lives that are lost.” I completely agree with what he said. Why did it take so many? How many more do there have to be? Another thing is that they want to trust teachers with a gun. How is that okay?! Not to be rude but how many of your teachers don’t know how to use an activboard? Teachers are here to teach us. They shouldn’t have a gun. Protect children not guns.

Olivia Demmler

Valued Girl Talk Marlton Member

Black History Month by Kenikki Thompson age 11

February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States and Canada. During this month, people are encouraged to learn about African and African American history. Black History Month actually started out as a week. It was celebrated the second week in February because it was between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. They were both important to Black communities at that time.  It was began so that people would not forget about African American culture and accomplishments.  Because of slavery and Blacks not being able to learn to read or write, a lot of the history was not written down.  What a lot of people knew was by memory and stories being handed down from generation to generation. 

In 1970, the week celebration officially became Black History Month. It was especially for kids in school to learn about African American history because most schoolbooks only talked about Blacks as slaves.  The history was much more than that.  There were so many pioneers.  Their stories needed to be told too. There were scholars, inventors, musicians and more to learn about.  Many schools now make sure their students are learning about some of the very important accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month.

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There  are a few things you might not have known. Dr. Charles Drew helped create blood banks. 

 

 

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Marie Van Britton Brown was a nurse who was worried about people possible breaking into her home so she invented the first home security system. 

 

 

 

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Garret Morgan created the gas mask and the traffic signal.

 

 

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The Underground Railroad, which helped guide slaves to freedom, even has history where we live in New Jersey. Harriet Tubman, the most famous fugitive from slavery traveled to Lawnside, NJ, where a home was used to hide escaping slaves.  She also worked as a cook in Cape May hotels during the summers of 1849 through 1852 to help raise money for her Underground Railroad journeys.

Although February is actually Black History Month, you can learn about it all year. There are so many interesting facts and people to learn about.

Kenikki Thompson

Valued Girl Talk Marlton member

Moving Forward After Tragedy

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David Becker/Getty

The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. After events like this senseless attack, many Americans feel sad, helpless and fearful. We are only human, it affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Las Vegas tragedy comes after weeks of devastating stories from storm-ravaged areas across our nation, which can be a lot of tragedy to process all at once. The shock and devastation of any tragedy leaves us feeling stunned and vulnerable. We know that life is fragile, but it is not supposed to be this way.

1506991109747.pngTragedy and grief are devastating.  But it doesn’t have to get the best of you. The news overwhelms us with stories, pictures, videos and interviews around the clock showing every intimate detail of these tragedies. It is like reliving it over and over. Shut it off and regroup. Never underestimate the importance of your mindset. Get yourself refocused in a positive direction.

Don’t forget your children’s feelings and emotions during this time too. When it comes to any tragedy, most adults either feel the need to talk a lot to their kids or think they shouldn’t talk at all. The best place is somewhere in between. First, ask what they think happened. Kids get information from many different sources, not all are reliable. Let your child’s questions to you be your guide. Reassure them of their safety, spare them the scary details and be sure not to lie to them. Don’t allow young children to watch the news. Empower your kids to take positive action in the wake of a tragic event by doing something positive for the victims and survivors. This will help you both heal.

today-las-vegas-140709-vid.jpgLife is unpredictable and uncertain. What we have today can be taken away in a moment. Let’s just accept the fact that life is unfair sometimes.  This, however, doesn’t mean that we give up. When the world is falling apart around us, it’s tough to see the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. But, that is exactly what we must do. Take this time to reflect on the life you have and make any necessary positive changes to your life starting today.

1507054518676Life is for living, not worrying about dying, so don’t be fearful to live it to your fullest potential. None of us know how long our life will be, but we all get to choose what we make of each day. See the beauty, not the darkness. Focus on the good, not the bad. Many things are out of our control but you can control how you will react to situations, how you will treat others and how you will live your day. Make it a great one.

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Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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HAPPINESS is an Inside Job

happiness-is-a-choiceHappiness is an attitude and a choice that begins within you. Don’t wait for bliss to come to you, with just a few adjustments to your outlook on life, happiness can enter your soul. How you let the world around you, affect you, could be the key to your happiness. You can’t control everything that happens in life, but you can choose how you respond. Learn to see opportunity where others see misfortune. It is not easy to do this, but you CAN do this. Start by changing the way you react to situations and your life can become stress-free and happy, IF you choose.6

We tend to depend on external things to make us happy. Like our favorite food, movie or music, but those are just temporary. To experience true happiness, you need to dig deeper inside yourself. This may feel undoable at first, but just breathe, relax and follow these few steps. And remember every day is a new day, and that is a blessing within itself.

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First recognize what makes you happy, find out what inspires you, whether it is hanging out with friends, going to the beach, or getting a great night’s sleep. Look at what you’re good at, particularly what you lose yourself in – whether it’s writing, travelling, cooking, reading, sports. Whatever it is, make a list and get those things into your daily routines. These activities that you enjoy will make you happy – do them more.

c762e6048a5436970066d1d7d3f73f53--quotes-about-happiness-quotes-about-lifeBegin to foster positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude. Start speaking positive words and compliment others. Learn to trust others, start being more open and loving, even to strangers. Help others and give to those less fortunate. Gratitude is a part of being happy. Be thankful for all the blessings that you have in your life and what is going well. Learn to listen to others and become genuinely interested in all they want to say, this shows compassion. Choose to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiveness is an act of kindness and you will feel that burden lifted.

happy-smile-happiness-quotesShow appreciation and respect for all the good in your life. You ARE blessed, know it. Focus on being the best version of yourself. Nobody in the world can beat you at being you. Be who you are and confident in the real you. Fill your inner circle with those who accept you the way you are and radiate positivity. The people around you should love you, challenge you, and lift you higher. Some people just suck the life right out of you. Simply let them go, now.

c5efbff3d26263126315439829345a07--happy-quotes-wise-quotesEmbrace change. Where there is resistance, flow around it. Where there is opportunity, flow right through it. Let go of your fears, they aren’t real. Live in the now. Find out your life’s true purpose, whatever it is, focus in on what actions you can take to move towards this higher purpose. Become someone who makes a lasting impression on the world with your own amazing creations.

be-happyTake the lessons learned from past mistakes, life is all about trial and error. Learn to let go of what you cannot control and allow peace to enter your life. Don’t look to others to validate who you are or affect you in any way. We’ve all got weaknesses and areas in which we lack confidence, accept them and don’t get hung up on them. Know who you are and be confident. Get rid of the negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger. The world has enough negativity. Don’t contribute to it anymore.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAKXAAAAJDRkYTczM2Q3LWEwZjktNDI3Yi05NGE4LWIzNjQwY2IxNDc1ZQAccept responsibility for everything in your life. Never blame others for your unhappiness. Tell yourself it’s in your hands, because it IS. We have the power and ability to control our own thoughts and feelings, regardless of what is happening to us externally. Feeling in control internally is highly liberating and will make you feel happier. Remember, YOU are enough, and nobody deserves happiness more than you.

 

3b079527fa45dce6c713d4b410c6578015971ad886ed008cdc9034aee0d4abaa--happy-wife-happy-dayFinal Thought:

I know, sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to be happy. Easier said than done. I never said being happy will be easy to achieve but it will be worth it. Try the steps, if you fail-and you will, we all do-try again. Keep trying. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to become a happier you. 😊

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

-David Viscott

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton

 

I believe a world without childhood cancer IS possible

I am a very faith filled and spiritual person but many things throughout my life have had me question my faith. My religion tells me that I am not supposed to question my God and ask “why”, but sometimes I just don’t understand. My recent questions involve childhood cancer. Now, I know this is not a topic people want to talk about because it hurts to read the effects of this horrible disease on precious young lives, but we must start.

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Last year I met an amazing 9-year-old boy (now 10), battling cancer, from Blackwood NJ, who has melted hearts and opened eyes to the nasty disease of childhood cancer. Nico was diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma in August 2010 at the age of 3. Nico has had a rough life full of doctor appointments, hospital visits and needles but through it all he has remained an outgoing, fun, energetic, friendly, little boy…with cancer.

Nico dubbed himself a “soldier” and his family his “army, and with that Nico’s Army was formed. They come together to help support Nico and his family in the fight of his life, for his life.

“An army fights not because they hate what is in front of him, but because they love what is behind them”-G.K. Chesterton

With meeting Nico, I learned so much about childhood cancer that I had no idea existed. I even found out that it effected a Girl Talk Marlton members sister and took her young life years ago. They started the Alexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Inc http://www.alexasfriends.com and help families that are now suffering through the same heartache they went through-amazing.

According to childrenscancer.org, each year more than 15,000 kids and young adults are diagnosed with cancer—that’s about 42 per day. Though the 5-year-survival rate for childhood cancers has reached 80 percent, nearly 2,000 kids under age 19 die each year. And that’s just in the United States. In 2016, over 300,000 kids and young adults were diagnosed worldwide. Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group; socioeconomic class; or geographic region. Childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. Despite this, less than 4% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year. WHAT?!

2015-childhod-cancer-facts-infographicLifesaving and innovative research on childhood cancer is crucial. Awareness and education, along with fundraising to help support research can cure this disease. With funding in lifesaving, leading-edge research for new treatments and cures, we can help in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and (one day) cure of childhood cancers and end the suffering for so many innocent lives. 

I believe a world without childhood cancer IS possible, and I encourage and hope to empower others to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer. The world needs devoted volunteers to bring awareness and education to people who have not been effected by this disease and just do not understand all the pain and suffering. Get involved, make a difference, YOU have the power within you to do so. Even the smallest gesture starts a ripple.

As Nico spends his remaining days at home with family and friends, surrounded by all that he loves, I ask that you join me in prayer to fill the family with the strength they will need to get through this difficult time. Nico and his family have graciously shared their battle throughout this disease- the pain, the laughs and now the sorrow. They are all true hero’s and Nico forever an amazing warrior. Prayers and love to Nico and his Army, now and always.

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Please help support:
Army Logo

Nico’s Army
P.O. Box 1442
Blackwood, NJ 08012

bannerAlexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 628
Marlton, NJ 08053