A Conversation has Begun

Today Nick’s Fight to be Healed’s teens joined forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to hold a conversation about childhood blood cancers and how it affects our children. Held at The Hilton Garden Inn at Albany Medical Center, over 20 people participated while Dr. Vic Kanwar moderated the topics with compassion and empathy. Colleen Umholtz, RN, Angie Silipigno, Child Life Specialist, and Cortney Hill, Social Worker, all staff from The Melodies Center, shared stories and offered advice to the parents and young adults dealing with cancer.

Sammie Sagnelli, co-VP of Nick’s Round Table, shared how she was diagnosed with cancer at age 9 and now is 7 years in remission. The transition from a normal life, to the new normal of a cancer battle and back to a supposed normal life was very hard, because her perspectives had changed so much. She needed to find a way to make it happen and family helped her tremendously.

Members of Nick’s Round Table were a major support for today’s conference.
L-R: Dante Gallucci, Michael Blond, Stephen Cammarata, Andrew Guzi, Katie Collins, Sammie Sagnelli, Sara Falconer.
Front Row: Nate DeSalvatore & Sofie Brennan

Dante Gallucci, a member of Nick’s Round Table, deals with his continued treatment by giving back. He is currently fundraising to be Man of the Year for LLS and if he wins wants the money raised to support pediatric cancer. Giving back is how he deals with his diagnosis. Look on his Facebook page for upcoming events.

Katie and Stephen

Mary Walls, center, introduces Sammie Sagnelli and Dante Gallucci

Katie Collins, co-VP, Nate De Salvatore, Sofie Brennan, and Sara Falconer from Nick’s Round Table kept children company while doing arts and crafts, so parents could share their concerns and ask questions. Stephen Cammarata, president of Nick’s Round Table, volunteered at the conference, but also commented how many of his friends didn’t understand what was happening when Nick was ill. Having the support of his friends helped him during Nick’s journey. Andrew Guzi and Michael Blond volunteered today, too and Michael wished that he had known how to help Stephen. By giving back and being a good friend, he and Andrew are making a difference.

Parker Ragone who ended his treatment in January made a bird’s nest. 
Christian Rasmussen, who has 1 1/2 years left in treatment,  made an amazing rollercoaster.

There were so many topics that came up today and everyone felt supported by staff, friends, and other families dealing with the same concerns. Seeing Kassidy Krenzer was absolutely wonderful and there was a sense of family coming together.

Other conversations are sure to follow and I hope that many of you get involved. Special thanks to Mary Walls, Manager of Patient Access, for spearheading this event with Dr. Kanwar, and Nick’s Fight to be Healed is proud to be a part of this support system.

What do you wish that you knew when your child was diagnosed? What topics would you like to have a conversation about? Let me know and I’ll make sure that your words are heard and you are supported.

It takes a community and many foundations to make a difference. Thank you to LLS for helping us with our mission.

2 thoughts on “A Conversation has Begun

  1. This group just keeps moving forward. Thank you, Janine for providing an opportunity for teens to learn the value of volunteering. Nick's Fight to be Healed Foundation is a gift to those dealing with cancer and to everyone connected with this wonderful organization.


  2. This ended up being a wonderful event. I am looking forward to future meetings where we can expand upon ideas touched on yesterday as well as delve into new topics. Christian had a great time with the volunteers from Nick's Fight to be Healed. Great idea so that parents with no access to childcare could still attend. Thank you!


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