Girl Planting seeds

Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Celebrates Teen Cancer Awareness Week

December 31, 2012 08:57 AM


The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center and adolescent patients of the Tomorrows Children’s Institute (TCI) celebrated New Jersey’s second annual Teen Cancer Awareness Week to honor the lives of young people living with cancer. As part of the celebration, HackensackUMC held a special event, “Teen Cancer Awareness Get 2Gether: 25 Years of Being Brave ….getting through it by getting together,” which was held at the Hekemian Conference Center.

“Teens with cancer face social and medical concerns that are very different from younger pediatric and adults patients,” said Michael B. Harris, M.D., of Englewood, associate chair of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and medical director of TCI.   “Teen Cancer Awareness Week is so important because it not only reminds people of the unique needs of teens who have the disease, but it also promotes awareness for cancer prevention, research and education.” 

The event featured a panel discussion with various speakers, including teens who talked about their experiences battling cancer.  Several organizations participated in a resource exposition, including the Alicia Rose “Victorious” Foundation; CancerCare; Gilda’s Club of Northern New Jersey; Kula for Karma; Make- A-Wish Foundation; and Go4theGoal Foundation. 

The event also highlighted the 25th anniversary of the Tomorrows Children’s Institute, which is the largest and most comprehensive center in New Jersey for children with cancer and blood disorders.  TCI occupies nearly 20,000-square-feet of the Don Imus – WFAN Pediatric Center for Tomorrows Children at HackensackUMC. 

The Tomorrows Children’s Fund (TCF) is a fundraising organization formed by the parents of children with cancer.  Since 1982, TCF has provided emotional, social and financial assistance to families of children fighting cancer or a serious blood disorder. 

TCI, with the support of the TCF, offers various assistance programs for patients, including the Braves, a support group for teenagers who are survivors or currently on treatment. The Braves meet on a weekly basis and offer young adults a confidential environment in which to share their stories of living with this illness, promoting open dialogue and communication. The group also provides creative, therapeutic activities for members.

Patients who remain in remission for two years after completing their treatment are followed in TCI’s Ira Sohn Research Conference Center for Cure and Beyond (CAB) program, which is dedicated to focusing on survivorship. The program helps survivors of all ages adjust to life after being cured

Other special events offered by TCI and TCF include an annual Memorial Dinner, a “Celebration of Life” high school graduation, kayaking, ski trips and a spa night.

Photo ID from left to right:

First row - Meghan Hartley, senior child life specialist/music therapist, Tomorrows Children's Institute, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital; Greg Hedler, licensed clinical social worker, Tomorrows Children's Institute, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital;  Emily Golden, Paramus; Leigh Frattolillio, Norwood; Nicole diFilipo, Alicia Rose “Victorious” Foundation; Tim Malone, Mahwah; and Gisele DiNatale, Alicia Rose “Victorious” Foundation.

Second row -Robert Hilsdorf, Dumont; Mayra Quispe, Newark; Shaheem Crooks, Englewood; Michael B. Harris, M.D., associate chair of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and medical director of Tomorrows Children’s Institute; Mariana Cardenas, Dumont;  Rowan Zubi, Fairview;  and Odalys Jimenez, Secaucus.



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