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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

St. Baldrick’s & Nico’s Army

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I’m not going to lie, there are some things in this world that makes me question my faith and one of them is cancer, particularly Childhood cancer. The universe is random and chaotic. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. I can’t make sense of it and try not to spend my time focusing on the why. I rather admire the courage and determination of these brave soldiers fighting this hard battle and join the army full of passion to make a difference in doing my part to contributing to advancements in childhood cancer research. Honestly, what else can I do? Of course, I pray but I also argue with my God for allowing these children and families to suffer.

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Over the years, I have unfortunately lost family and friends to cancer, as many of you have also. And we have watched them suffer thru sickness, some lucky enough to beat it and some who have left this world. It is a horrible disease and I wish for a cure- quickly.

 

 

 

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The Unforgotten Haven, which I am proud to be one of the managers of, has been a huge supporter and friend of 10 yr. old Nico, a blackwood resident battling Neuroblastoma. Nico was diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma in August 2010 at the age of 3. The Haven has helped raise money for his bucket list and took part in this year’s St. Baldrick’s event. A few team members even shaved their heads! It was an amazing fundraising event. Cancer sucks and it breaks my heart to see the suffering it causes. But through all the tears and hugs, the heroes, miracles and truly good hearted people that have gathered- all for the good of the cause-has touched my heart so much.

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Nico has touched so many lives, more than he will ever know. I am very grateful that he has allowed us to follow him along the way through social media. Nico’s Army posts updates on Facebook showing pictures of Nico, with his approval, at the many hospital and doctor visits and tests that he needs. He is a quiet hero to all. He is a personal inspiration for me not to sweat the small stuff and not to take anything for granted.  Nico’s family, friends, Army and supporters are also hero’s. Please keep them all in your prayers, as I will continue to do.

 

 

Together we can make a difference against childhood cancer.

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton

Please help 9 yr old cancer victim Nico fulfill his bucket list

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Nico’s Army is a group of people banning together to help Nico Cassabria, a 9 year old boy, in his fight against Neuroblastoma.

For those of you that have seen my posts on Facebook regarding Nico’s Army, we have a rather unfortunate bit of news:
After some recent scans and a coinciding doctor’s appointment, Nico’s doctor advised his family that now is the time for him to try to fulfill some bucket list items while he is still feeling well enough to do so. With the exception of trying to raise money for pediatric cancers and offering our support, there’s not usually much that anyone can do to help. That is until now.

It is beyond heartbreaking to even think of a child having to put together a bucket list but I’m confident that if we, his army, band together, we’ll be able to help him check off some of his biggest dreams and goals. If anyone could lend any assistance in regard to providing Nico and his family the opportunity to complete any of the following, PLEASE reach out to me, The Unforgotten Haven, or Bianca’s Kids as soon as possible. We would be forever grateful for your help!

• Travel in a “big time” RV
• Swim with hammerhead sharks
• Go to Boston
• See Hamilton-the musical
• Go to the Nintendo Store in NYC
• Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
• Swim with pigs
• Disneyland
• Disney World
• Go zip-lining
• Meet Dan (The Diamond Minecart)

My wish is for all Cancer to be rid of in this world. It is horrible to watch the someone you love suffer with this illness and not be able to do anything to help them take the pain away. There is nothing to do but be there to help and support your person going through this the best you can. It is heart breaking, I know. I try not to ask why, but I do. I pray for a miracle- a cure.

Please, if you know someone who can help with the list above for Nico please contact me or anyone on the list above. We would love to help him fulfill his wishes. Nico is a sweet boy with a beautiful heart and a smile that lights up a room. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Thank you.

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton
GirlTalkMarlton@gmail.com

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS by Kailey Gaffney

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/breast-cancer-awareness/

Considering October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I think that it is the perfect time to talk about breast cancer and the effect that it has had on me and my family.

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A cure for breast cancer is something I’ve been wishing for since I was a little girl. I remember going to “Susan G. Komen For The Cure” 5k runs with my family, friends, and classmates, starting at the age of 11. I was inspired by the breast cancer survivors I met that day. I look back on running these 5k’s with my family and friends, and I smile.

Every year, a family member or close family-friend of mine gets diagnosed with breast cancer. The closest person I know that has been diagnosed was my aunt. When I found out that my aunt had breast cancer, I was scared. I was terrified of losing her, and it made me so sad that something so scary could happen to someone so close to my family and I.

Luckily, my aunt has survived breast cancer. I asked her about her experience with the illness, and how it has changed her since being diagnosed.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 42. Getting the news that she had breast cancer was the scariest thing in the world to her. Because of breast cancer she had many sleepless, painful, and scary nights. It was a journey like no other. She told me that she was very lucky that the doctors caught it early so that she didn’t have to do chemotherapy.

Instead, she only had to do eight weeks of radiation. The main question on my mind when I asked her about her experience with breast cancer was, “How did you get through it?” She then told me that she got through it with the support of amazing family and great friends.

However, her true inspiration throughout her journey was her children. She has two children, and she told me how she had to survive for them. Her children are the most important thing to her, as I’m sure is the same with every mother.

In June of this year was the three year anniversary of my aunt being cancer free.

She looks at life differently now. She lives life to the fullest and does not take anything for granted, especially the little things in life now. Having breast cancer makes you become and better and stronger person inside.

I am thankful to have my aunt to talk about breast cancer with. She is now doing amazing, and has a big smile on her face whenever I see her.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. And, according to statistics, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and one woman will die from it every 13 minutes. As a 17 year old girl, knowing these statistics is terrifying. Breast cancer is a global burden among us all.

That is why my wish is to find a cure for breast cancer.

My one wish, since I was a little girl, has been to find a cure for breast cancer, or all cancers for that matter. Although breast cancer is a horrible illness that affects many women, and even some men, every year, it makes women stronger.

I hope that one day, the cure for breast cancer can be found.

My wish is to find a cure for the women who have suffered through breast cancer, and to eventually be able to prevent it once and for all!

 

Kailey Gaffney
Leader-Girl Talk Marlton for The Wishwall Foundation