10 Years!

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I met Sammie Sagnelli three weeks after I lost Nick to cancer. She had been fighting a hard battle, and her hair was short and curly circling her angelic face. We met at the fundraiser that Nick was supposed to be involved in. This young girl became a part of my life, and her vibrancy and zest for life helped me through some of my darkest moments missing my boy.

When a child hits a milestone, whether it’s a day cancer free or a week, a month, a year, 5 years or 10 years, first I want to fist pump the world and say, “Thank goodness!” Second, I think about that child’s potential and all she has to offer to the world, now that she is healed.

Sammie went on and continued to play softball through high school. She has always loved to bake, and I remember when she was on a dog biscuit baking phase. My dogs enjoyed them! Sammie also was incredibly involved with Nick’s Round Table, and her knowledge and understanding of what kids needed during treatment enhanced what we did.

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Amazing officers of Nick’s Round Table!
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Sammie speaking at a conference.

Sammie is a voice for others and isn’t afraid to speak up and share how cancer affects a child not only while they are in treatment, but after. Children may not realize side effects until they are older. And they aren’t just physical. Emotional side effects play a huge part in a child’s battle with cancer and can take a lifetime to heal.

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Autumnfest at Hope Club, Latham

Sammie has never been afraid of being herself and sharing her time with kids who need support. Her love of Katniss and the Hunger Games is still probably very strong, and I think she can relate to the idea of being forced into something that you don’t want to do, but then you realize that you are stronger than you thought you were. Others see that and view her as a role model.

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Making quilts with fellow volunteer, PK

That is what Sammie has become. A role model for other kids who are battling cancer. To look at Sammie now, you would never know how sick she was as a child. She gives us hope, she spreads joy, and is making the world a better place just by being here! Now a college student, Sammie is living the life that she wants and deserves. Cancer can never take that away from her.

So happy that you have reached an amazing milestone, Sammie! I love you and am so grateful to have you in my life! Maybe next time I see you, you’ll have made some yummy desserts! Hint, hint!!

Expanding your Heart

This past weekend was the 4th annual Purple Tie Affair benefiting Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training program. It’s always a night of celebration, good food, and dancing, but at this event many hearts were bursting.

In the beginning of the evening, we held a special cocktail hour that gave those affected by cancer a chance to share their story. I spoke about our foundation and welcomed everyone to enjoyed themselves, but asked that tomorrow everyone think about what they could do to help a child beat cancer. We all have a special light or passion within ourselves that we can use to make the world a better place and to make a difference for someone battling cancer.

Purple Tie committee and Anthony Yevoli LLS Boy of the Year making a fantastic speech.

Nick had a huge heart. He was such a love bug, compassionate, and enthusiastic. He had a zest for life that was infectious. When I lost Nick instead of sealing off my heart to life, I opened it and reached out to help others with the assistance of my friends and family. I can’t change what happened to my son and losing him will always leave a gap in my life. But by opening my heart and taking on this mission to help children with cancer, Nick has brought more love into my life. He has guided me to children and young adults to make my heart soar with their bravery, determination and simple love of life.

Some of the amazing volunteers and board members of Nick’s Fight!

Today I went to visit my friend, Justin, who has been in the hospital for a bit of time with complications from his treatments. Justin is the ultimate warrior. He has had a rough road, but he remains brave and true to his desire to be healed. Justin was a bit low when I arrived. He looked tired and was curled up in his bed.

I sat and we began to talk about all the fantabulous Marvel comic movies that have been made throughout the years and how they all thread together. Justin knew the characters, the connections, and what movies were being made and were coming out this year. As he spoke, his eyes lit with enthusiasm and true interest. Then our conversation continued onto Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, and Irish mythology. Justin is a powerhouse of knowledge and as anyone knows I love Marvel comics and mythology. When we talked about the Renaissance, I knew we shared something special. By the time I had to leave, Justin was sitting up in bed drinking a coffee coolatta!

I wish that Justin had never gotten cancer. The same way I feel about Nick and every child who has been diagnosed. But if I would have sealed myself off from this world, never to be around children and young adults who are battling, I would have never met Justin. So much of what Justin loves is what Nick loved, and he made me so happy to sit there and talk about what we are both passionate about. Spending time with Justin today made my heart explode with joy!

I hope our visit helped him too. It’s hard being in the hospital every single day when you only want to be at home and with your friends. Justin is a true knight that King Arthur would surely have had at his round table, and when he is better, I hope that he will join Nick’s Round Table.

Thank you, Justin for chilling with me today! Feel better!