A Force to be Reckoned With

yogatanks

This past Sunday, an amazing group came together to not only raise money for Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, but also provide a place and a path to healing and breakthroughs. Karen Patchell has spearheaded our Flow to be Healed program at The Melodies Center, and we are working on a program for parents as well.

Two Baptiste teachers, Sheryl and Tanya led and assisted the class speaking of all that is possible no matter where you are in your life. Two other teachers, Jess and Carly were participating, and their presence strengthened me as I dedicated my practice that day to Nick. Others were volunteers who help our children as they battle cancer. While others were on their own cancer journey, but were in a supportive atmosphere where illness was left at the door. Some may have come to do yoga, but left with a new perspective.

We are a force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life. Everyone has a journey, a story, a current fight, feelings of sadness, fear, or trauma. This amazing yoga community creates a holding space where you can go and be with whatever feeling is within you that day. You have a place to let it out. Having this force of support gives me strength.

Maybe it’s not yoga for you, but it can be. Maybe it’s the community of parents going through the same situation. A child fighting for her life. You are in the same place because of circumstances, but connected by the force of hope that will always rise in you.

Whether it’s doctors, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, family, friends or volunteers–we are a force that is more powerful than cancer. We are a force that will hold you until you can stand on your own two feet once again. We will hold your place until you return. Nothing is Impossible.

Celebrating Life

Abby and Matt’s First Dance Celebration was on November 16. The response to the news coverage is absolutely mind boggling and exciting. Raising awareness for childhood cancer is paramount to getting more funding for research and really understanding what our children need during a diagnosis and after treatment.
Abby has learned the lesson of friendship and helping others through her nurse, Matt.
That being said, this event wasn’t about the “marriage” between Abby and Matt, which really was a selfless act of compassion and support. It was about giving love to a 4-year-old girl who has cancer. It’s about having the courage to face a disease that you have no control over. It’s about hoping that your child will beat cancer and grow up to go to college, get married, have children if they want. Basically to live their own life. It’s about celebrating their good days and rising them up on their bad days.
Mom and daughter getting the chance to dress up and take a break from treatment. Just beautiful.
As a parent of a child who died from cancer, I am forever grateful to everyone who reached out to Nick and made his days extra special. I am thankful for the nurses who made a big deal that they got to take care of him, to the residents who sat and talked to him about his life, his interests, his fears. I am in awe of the nurses, social workers, and doctors who celebrated him becoming a teen while he was in the hospital on his 13th birthday. I am humbled by the child life specialist who paid enough attention to know that Nick loved the Giants and not only got him a sweatshirt, but tickets to the Giants practice session, so he could meet Eli Manning.
Cotton candy is a must at every celebration!
These memories are priceless and get me through every day that I miss my son. And that is every day. Every single day I miss my child who is no longer with me, but am so glad he had these moments.
Creating smiles and laughter heals.
These memories are a huge part of the reason why I volunteer most of my time raising money to help fund the child life specialist position at The Melodies Center. This is why Nick’s Fight provides services to improve children’s lives, to make them happier, and smile more while in the hospital.
Sometimes the parents need just as much of a break as the kids, helping to keep that strong foundation.
It’s why we don’t care if we raised money at Abby and Matt’s event. It was about giving these children a beautiful, fun evening in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
This event created precious moments to celebrate and enjoy life.
Matt & his wife, Karli

Abby formed a powerful bond with Matt’s wife. This friendship will last forever.

I am grateful for Matt, Abby, Courtney, Angie,and Abby’s family for trusting Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation enough to give them this night.

L-R: Courtney Hill (social worker), Kendra Sisco (cancer survivor), Angie Silipigno (child life specialist)
I am blessed to have met so many children who have taught me to follow my dreams and live every moment in love and acceptance. 
 I wish Love, Courage, Hope, Life, Peace to all of you.

One Step at a Time

Dante Gallucci is a 15-year-old promising young athlete at Schalmont High School.  He plays basketball and football and runs track for his school. In April of 2014, Dante had four wisdom teeth pulled and his neck swelled up. When antibiotics didn’t help, he had a scan taken to determine the cause. On May 30, 2013 Dante was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma and has been in treatment at The Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Built and well over 6′, Dante and his family would never have imagined that this would be their journey. Ironically, he was diagnosed just after he met Rachael Murray, another cancer patient, at her Trending4Fashion Show fundraiser for LLS. Wanting to give to others, Dante didn’t realize that he would soon be on the receiving end.
As we have found countless times over, the chemotherapy that is needed to cure patients causes negative side effects. Dante’s chemo badly damaged his legs, but fortunately got his body into remission in the first month. To any young adult struggling with being sick and dealing with physical changes, the side effects can be very traumatizing. To an athlete at the peak of his performing ability, it can be discouraging and emotionally stressful. Being a part of a team and working out with those teammates is a ritual and bonding experience.
Dante Gallucci 

Dante’s teammates did an amazing job keeping his spirits strong during their football season. Currently, Dante needs to use a wheelchair. He goes to physical therapy and that ‘can do’ attitude keeps him positive and focused on his goal–to walk again. His athletic training has probably played a huge part in his determination to get better.

In addition to the costs of treatment, travel, and food, there’s the physical therapy costs.  Dante needed bilateral ankle braces to help him walk. Luckily, his family has good health insurance, but when his mom can’t work because she is his main caregiver and the bills add up, any family will struggle with these extra costs.

Meeting Dante and his mom, Teri at his Slamtastic fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation
Photo courtesy of Michael A. Panzarino–M.A.P. Graphics

That’s where Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation comes in. We are so glad to be able to support the Gallucci family and help pay for his leg braces. When we can do this, then Dante can physically get better. He has something to look forward to–being able to stand on his own two feet. That’s important for a young adult who is striving for independence so he can eventually be on his own after high school. But it’s also literal in that when he can walk again, he will get physically stronger and can get back to playing the sports that he loves so much.

The foundation could not help Dante and the four other patients we helped in January without our generous supporters, so we thank all of you.

When I visited Dante and Teri in the hospital, after learning how to use his own IV, Dante spoke about giving back and the fashion show fundraiser he is helping to coordinate to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He gives back without thinking about himself. He gives because he has personally seen and felt what cancer has done to him and his peers.

I am so honored and blessed to know this family. I see my Nick in Dante. Nick would have been right there asking, “What can I do to make your day better?” I’m even more blessed because his brother, Stephen, has taken the lead to fulfill his brother’s legacy and will be helping Dante at the Trending4Fashion Fashion Show to Benefit LLS.

When I see what Nick’s legacy had done and how many of our young people are getting involved to help others, it lightens my grief for a moment. I am forever hopeful that we will one day say farewell to cancer and end our children’s suffering. But like Dante, we are taking it one step at a time.