Mount Laurel council proclaimed September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and honored a late Lenape High School staffer at its August meeting.
Township resident Mary J. Mullen was a secretary at the school – her alma mater – for 62 years, a career that began immediately after she graduated. She passed away on Mother’s Day this year.
Deputy Mayor Fozia Janjua read a proclamation during the meeting citing Mullen’s career, as well as her support and empathy for staff and students at Lenape.
“(Mullen) was known and adored by all at Lenape High School,” Janjua read from the proclamation. “She lovingly embraced everyone that came through the school doors with a smile, a greeting, and a treat. Her desk was always stocked with candy and crackers to give freely to students and staff on a daily basis.
“(Mullen) was the epitome of acceptance,” the document added. “Encouraging and mentoring students and staff from her desk in the reception area, she accepted people exactly as they are. She was a champion for the underdog, a listening ear for the misunderstood, and a support system for the outcast.”
The proclamation also noted how Mullen supported students by attending school and sporting events throughout the year, and how she was beloved for generations by the Lenape community.
This month marks the first time in six decades that Mullen will not be in the main office when school opens.
“While her presence will be incredibly missed by all who knew her, memories and stories of her will live on, in the words of Mary Jane, ‘absolutely, positively, always,'” the proclamation noted. ” … She will be forever remembered and greatly missed by the entire Lenape community.”
After the tribute to Mullen, Councilman Nikitas Moustakas read an approved resolution designating September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It noted that approximately 288,300 men are diagnosed annually with prostate cancer in the U.S. – equal to one man every two minutes – and roughly 34,700 will die.
In New Jersey, an estimated 9,460 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, with an estimated 730 deaths. Men whose families have a history of prostate cancer are considered twice as likely to develop it.
Prostate cancer is regarded as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men, and the third leading cause of cancer death, behind lung and colon cancer.
“One in eight men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes and one in six African American men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime,” the council proclamation noted. “Overall, African American men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed and 2.1 times more likely to die from the cancer than white men.”
If treated early, prostate cancer has a five-year survival rate of nearly 100 percent, but that number drops to 31 percent when the cancer is detected in the late stage.
“All men are at risk for prostate cancer, and we encourage the citizens of Mount Laurel Township to increase the importance of prostate cancer awareness and screenings,” Moustakas read from the document.
Councilwoman Karen Cohen again cited Mullen near the end of the council meeting.
“(Mullen) was (known as) Mary Jane to everyone,” she said. “(As president of the Lenape parents association), I was in the school a lot. (In her office) she had thousands of pictures on the wall around her cubicle, because that’s how many students had sent them to her.
“She was such a warm and welcoming person, and (everyone) felt good going into her office.”