A bipartisan resolution sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblyman Parker Space (both R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) to promote education and awareness about childhood cancer is headed to the Governor’s desk after it was passed by the New Jersey General Assembly. The bill passed in the state Senate in June 2016.
The Da Silva family. (Patricia Da Silva)
The resolution was inspired by Nicholas DaSilva, a Hardyston resident who was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma when he was just 5 years old. Since his cancer has gone into remission, he has worked to help other children with the disease. Along with the other members of his family, Nicholas has raised money to help other kids through donations to the Valerie Fund and Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
“Nicholas and his family are an inspiration, and have done so much already to raise awareness to childhood cancers,” Senator Oroho said. “With this resolution, we are looking to encourage school districts to participate in ‘going gold’ activities to help foster an understanding of childhood cancers among youth and build compassion for those battling the disease.”
The resolution, SJR-49, designates the third week in September of each year as “Go Gold for Kids with Cancer Awareness Week.” While childhood cancer is rare, it’s still the leading cause of death from disease in American children under the age of 19. For kids battling cancer or those who have survived it, adjusting to school and other social settings can be difficult. As part of the special awareness week, schools will be encouraged to have appropriate activities and programs that promote a better understanding of childhood cancer. It also calls upon public officials and the citizens of the state to join in wearing a gold ribbon, which is the international awareness symbol for childhood cancer.
“Many children with cancer have a hard time readjusting to school and social settings during and after treatment. They are often anxious, concerned about their body image and social lives, and are at an increased risk of developing learning difficulties,” said Assemblyman Space. “A child’s classmates can be a tremendous help by being welcoming, compassionate and kind, but they too need help understanding what the child is going through.”
The DaSilva family have been encouraged in their efforts and sought guidance from another Sussex County resident, Hap Rowan of Frankford. Since 2008, Hap has been battling a rare carcinoid cancer known as neuroendocrine tumor, or NET, cancer. In 2012, Hal worked with Senator Oroho and then Assemblymembers Alison Littell McHose and Gary Chiusano to annually designate November 10 as “Neuroendocrine Tumor Cancer Awareness Day” in New Jersey.
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