Teen Cancer Awareness Week closer to reality

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Voorhees Sun

Giselle DiNatale — creator of the Alicia Rose “Victorious” Foundation — was given the honor of casting a vote for legislation that designates the third week of each January as “Teen Cancer Awareness Week” throughout the state.

Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) sponsored the legislation and allowed DiNatale to cast his vote on March 11 on the Senate floor. Beach said it was important to designate between childhood cancers — which typically have higher survival rates — from the challenges facing teens with cancer.

“It’s easy to think of anyone under age 18 as a ‘child,’ but when it comes to cancer, teens face a whole new world of challenges when fighting the disease,” Beach said in a press release. “Adolescents and young adults battling cancer often also are dealing with a host of psychological and social issues that separate them from their younger peers. It’s time we recognized those differences.”

The bill (SJR-14) passed by a wide margin of 37–0.

“It was awesome. I was able to sit with Sen. Beach on the floor. I was able to cast his vote. It was a very neat experience,” she said. “It’s all been so moving. We initially approached him to help support this legislation, and he helped us all the way.”

It now heads to the Assembly for further consideration. DiNatale said the foundation has already petitioned Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald to propose the bill.

He was very receptive of their request, DiNatale said.

“Initially the bill was written for childhood cancer awareness. I lobbied quite a bit and explained there was quite a different between childhood and teen cancers,” DiNatale said. “We needed to make that distinction, we’re very targeted and that’s what we do. This is just our little piece of it, and it was important enough to demonstrate this.”

For the designated week, DiNatale said the foundation will visit the 10 hospitals throughout the state that feature their teen lounges. Each day, she said, they’ll visit a different hospital and hopefully engage in some presentations and raise awareness about teens who have been diagnosed with cancer.

To learn more about the event and the foundation, please visit the Web site at Victoriousfoundation.org. Call 784–0615 for more information as well.

See this week’s print edition of The Sun for the full story.