Tag Archives: Cancer

PHOTOS: Middle Village holds annual Relay for Life event


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtsey Relay for Life

Rain and thunder could not dampen the spirits of the nearly 400 participants who took part in the 13th Annual Relay for Life of Middle Village in Juniper Valley Park on Saturday.

The relay in the park was a success, but the threat of high winds and heavy rain did cause the Luminaria ceremony to be rescheduled for July 13 at 9 p.m., said Marlene Medina, community manager for Relay for Life.

Relayers will get the opportunity to light their Luminaria bag and run their laps in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one at the Maspeth Federal Savings parking lot located on 69th Street and Grand Avenue.

Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraising event created to help bring an end to cancer. It brings together communities to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones who have not made it, and take action to stop cancer.

Relay for Life has currently raised over $170,000 and is continuing fundraising efforts until they reach their goal of $200,000 before Aug. 30, according to Medina. Anyone interested in donating can visit the Relay for Life website to make a donation.

 

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Volunteers wanted for Relay for Life events in Queens this spring


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File Photo

Those looking to put their best feet forward in the fight against cancer are encouraged to join Relay for Life events scheduled across Queens in May and June.

The relays benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) and include teams of volunteers from families, businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, civic associations and other groups walking or running laps around a course to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.

New York City played host to 27 Relay for Life events last year, raising more than $1.4 million combined, a goal the ACS hopes to eclipse in this year’s relay events.

“The Relay for Life movement unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action to finish the fight once and for all,” ACS Relay for Life Senior Manager Ben Messner said. “Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. Each new team that registers brings us one step closer to saving more lives.”

Each Relay for Life kicks off with the “Survivors’ Lap,” as local cancer survivors take the first steps on the course, symbolizing their resiliency and strength. Once the survivors complete their circuit, the fundraising teams take the track; at least one member of each team must be on the track for the relay’s duration, into the night and following morning.

Team members camp out trackside and, when not on the course, get to rest and enjoy games, music and entertainment.

After nightfall, volunteers hold a luminaria lighting ceremony, when candles lining the course are lit in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who died of its complications.

The Relay for Life for the communities of Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways takes place on Saturday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning at the Broad Channel Athletic Club, located at 125 Cross Bay Blvd. For more information, contact Carol Palacio at 631-379-4924 or carol.palacio@cancer.org.

Bayside will hold its Relay for Life on Saturday, June 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning in Alley Pond Park. Those interested in participating can contact Marlene Medina at 646-318-7636 or marlene.medina@cancer.org for additional information.

One week later, the Howard Beach Relay for Life will kick off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, located on 165th Avenue near 83rd Street. To learn more, contact Meghan Neary at 631-300-3458 or meaghan.neary@cancer.org.

Lastly, the Middle Village Relay for Life will take place two weeks later on Saturday, June 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning at Juniper Valley Park’s Brennan Field, located off the corner of 71st Street and Lutheran Avenue. Contact Marlene Medina as the previously listed email and phone number.

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Mount Sinai Queens opens new cancer treatment center in Astoria


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

A new medical facility that will specialize in cancer treatment  is opening in Astoria as part of a $125 million expansion by Mount Sinai Queens.

Known as the Mount Sinai Queens Infusion Center, the facility is across the street from the main hospital. The state-of-the-art facility will be used to treat cancer patients, according to hospital officials, that were previously unavailable to Mount Sinai’s patients in Queens.

“Many treatment options were not available in Queens,” said Howard Greenberg, assistant professor of medicine for the hospital. “Now we’re bringing world-class cancer care in the comfort of your neighborhood.”

The new center aims to provide cancer treatments in a quiet and comfortable environment, something that couldn’t be done in their main facility on 30th Avenue. Along with providing treatment like chemotherapy, the hospital will also perform various blood transfusions and provide care for patients with blood disorders.

“We tried to create a space that was comforting to our patients and also deliver high-quality care,” said Caryn Schwab, executive director of Mount Sinai Queens.

Mount Sinai, with its main medical center on the East Side in Manhattan, is looking to expand into western Queens. The area has a limited choice of emergency medical centers with Elmhurst Hospital the closest alternative.

“Mount Sinai Queens is on the move,” Schwab said. “Queens is our backyard.”

The bulk of the Mount Sinai expansion project is taking place in a new 130,000-square-foot building that is rising across the street from the cancer center.

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Woodside fundraiser to help 4-year-old boy with leukemia


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Victoria Panos

Over a year ago, Lauren and Joseph Williams heard four words that changed their lives: “Your son has cancer.”

Now, as the parents struggle to remain strong for their 4-year-old son battling leukemia in a California hospital, they are getting much-needed support from friends back home in Queens.

Benjamin Williams, one of five children, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2013 after visiting the doctor for a regular checkup. At the time, his mother, Lauren, was pregnant with her fifth son.

Although the Williams family moved out of New York before Ben was born, and are now residing in San Diego, California, as Ben receives treatment at Rady Children’s Hospital, they are still feeling the love from the Big Apple.

Benjamin Williams

Benjamin Williams

Victoria Panos, of Woodside, has been friends with Ben’s mother, a Jackson Heights native, since they were children, and she knew she had to do what she could to help out the family.

Panos is organizing a fundraiser for the family on Feb. 28 at the Big Six Towers shopping center, located at 60-10 Queens Blvd. in Woodside, to raise money to help with any medical expenses.

Along with supporting the Williams family, Panos said the fundraiser also aims to raise awareness to the topic of childhood cancer.

“No one really hears about [childhood cancer],” said Panos, who is also Ben’s godmother. “I want to bring it to light and I want to help out Ben and his family because it is really rough with having a child that is sick and had to go through all that treatment. Raising awareness is my main goal, other than helping out my friend.”

Panos added that many people are not aware the leukemia awareness ribbon is orange, and the ribbon for childhood cancer awareness is gold.

“You don’t really understand what it is until it hits close to home,” Panos said. “I just need people to know that it is real. It does happen. Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”

After a previous fundraiser was held for Ben, Panos said Lauren was in tears knowing that the family was receiving support from loved ones. The idea of this current fundraiser was kept a surprise to the family until recently because Panos did not want them to worry about any details or organizing it.

Benjamin Williams (far right), 4, with his brothers, parents and grandmother.

Benjamin Williams (far right), 4, with his brothers, parents and grandmother.

“It’s super humbling. I really don’t have any words,” Lauren said a day after finding out about the fundraiser. “When you’re in a situation like this, anything helps. It’s wonderful. I can’t be thankful enough.”

Even with facing the struggles of fighting leukemia, Panos said the family has stayed positive through it all, including Ben.

“His older brothers are always helping out, whatever Ben wants he gets,” Panos added.

The fundraiser, also being organized by the Towers Play N Learn Center at 60-10A 47th Ave., will feature a bake sale, raffles, face painting by local artist The Cheeky Chipmunk and Brooklyn-based artist Onalee Rivera, and other activities.

“Even though the benefit is going to be a fun time, I want people to realize that they are there for something that is so devastating,” Panos said. “’Your child has cancer.’ Those four words can change your life in three seconds.”

Ben’s fundraiser is on Feb. 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. Updates on Ben’s battle with leukemia are on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamBen2010.

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Martial arts teacher helps raise money for Maspeth child fighting cancer


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Angel Redondo

Maspeth residents are raising funds to help the family of a local 8-year-old boy currently battling leukemia.

Last month, doctors diagnosed Rocco Lanzer, a third-grader at P.S. 153 and a student at Maspeth Martial Arts and Fitness, with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy and regular blood transfusions.

Angel Redondo, Rocco’s teacher at Maspeth Martial Arts, launched a fundraising effort after learning his student was ill. He posted a link on the studio’s website to a Paypal account where the public can make donations.

Word about the fundraiser quickly spread through social media, and by Friday, Feb. 13, Redondo had raised more than $1,000 to cover Lanzer’s medical care.

“I want to do whatever I can to raise as much money as I can,” Redondo said. He hopes to provide the Lanzer family with weekly checks from the public’s donations.

Maria Lanzer, Rocco’s mother, said her son’s prognosis is good, but his recovery could take up to two years to complete. She and her husband, Michael, have been staying with Rocco at the hospital on alternate nights.

“I appreciate what everyone’s doing for [Rocco],” Maria Lanzer said. “You walk into the hospital and your life is one way, and then your life is turned upside down with a diagnosis like that.” She said the donations would go a long way toward covering various bills and expenses related to Rocco’s treatment.

For those who cannot afford to make a financial donation, Redondo suggested that they donate blood at drives held in their communities. Click here to donate to the cause.

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Op-ed: Let’s practice cancer prevention each and every day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY DR. WAYNE KYE

What do you do to prevent cancer? February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and a great time to make or renew your commitment to put your health first. Take time to visit your health care professional and discuss your family and personal health history and which cancer screenings are right for you. Screening can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable, and in some cases stop cancer before it starts.

It is estimated that over 589,430 men and women will die in 2015 from cancer — including 34,600 New Yorkers. More than half of cancer deaths — more than 250,000 — can be prevented by taking action that includes getting screened.

Here are a few of the most common screenings to discuss with your health care professional:

• Breast cancer – mammogram
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam done by your health care professional every three years. Women over age 40 should get a mammogram and have a clinical breast exam every year. Those who have a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk and may need to start screening earlier.

• Cervical cancer – Pap smear
Women in their 20s should have a Pap test every three years. It is recommended that women ages 35-64 have a Pap and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) test together every five years. If you have HPV, smoke, use birth control pills or have had multiple sexual partners, you may be at a higher risk and may need to be screened more often.

• Prostate cancer – Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test
At 50, men should talk with their health care professional about whether or not getting screened for prostate cancer is right for you. Men may be at a higher risk if they have a family history of prostate cancer.

• Colon cancer – colonoscopy or stool-based tests
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States. Starting at age 50, it is recommended that men and women of average risk get screened. You may need to start screening earlier if you have a family history of cancer or colorectal polyps, if you smoke or if you are overweight. Talk to your doctor about which screening test is right for you.

• Skin cancer – skin exam
Starting at age 20, have your doctor check your skin annually. Examine your skin at home once a month and tell your health care professional about any changes. You are at a higher risk for skin cancer if you spend a lot of time in the sun or use tanning beds. Always use sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more when in the sun, and avoid the sun at its brightest times.

• Lung cancer – low-dose spiral CT scan
If you smoke or if you have quit smoking, discuss with your doctor whether lung cancer screening is right for you. Men and women are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer if they smoke (or have smoked) or if they have been exposed to second-hand smoke.

• Oral cancer – head and neck examination
As a periodontist and fellow health care professional, I would like to update you on oral cancer. It’s two times as common in men as in women. Tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are important risk factors. However, one in four patients diagnosed with oral cancer will present with no risk factor. Thus, it’s important to see your dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings. Start reducing your risk to by incorporating these healthy eating and exercise tips into your everyday lifestyle.

Dr. Wayne Kye is the spouse of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and a member of Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

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Brave Flushing girl, 7, fights brain cancer


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Danielle Chase

Danielle Chase was taking photos at a baby shower in early August when she noticed that when she asked her 7-year-old daughter Izabella to smile, only one half of her mouth was moving.

“Izzy, why aren’t you smiling?” Chase recalls asking her daughter over and over again before the little girl told her, “I am, Mom.”

That, combined with a bunch of recent stumbles and unusual clumsiness, prompted the Flushing mom to take the second-grader to the hospital .

“Never in a million years did I think they were going to tell me she had brain cancer,” Chase said about the heartbreaking moment when doctors at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center discovered a Grade 1 cancerous tumor.  “Everything moved really fast after that.”

On Aug. 3, just two days after taking Izabella to the hospital, the doctors attempted to remove the tumor. Sadly, they couldn’t get all of it. A piece was left too deep in the brain for surgeons to reach without risking brain damage, her mom said.

Instead, Izabella needs a scan every two months to monitor the tumor, which they fear will continue to grow and require treatment. She also has a shunt in her brain that releases spinal fluid into her stomach, and she has to deal with the loss of sight from the surgery.

“I felt like I was ice skating on one foot,” Izabella said, describing the clumsy sensation she felt before the surgery. “But now I feel like I’m ice skating on two feet and I’m slipping everywhere.”

Chase, a single mother who had to quit her job to take care of Izabella, is overwhelmed with medical bills and the family has an online fund for donations. Chase will hold a charity event at Tequila Sunrise on Nov. 16 to raise money for Izabella’s medical bills.

“If I ask people for anything, I ask them for prayers first before money,” Chase said.

Izabella had to be taken out of her school, Sacred Heart Elementary School in Bayside, because of her severely reduced vision. She will be starting home schooling soon and Sacred Heart’s administrators have been very supportive, according to Chase.

Izabella says she wants to be a surgeon when she grows up and help little kids like herself. Every once in a while she thinks back to early August.

“And she tells me, ‘Mommy, remember that brain ball they took out of me. I’m going to take it and send it straight to hell,’” Chase said.

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Jackson Heights man, inspired by own experience, helps teens with cancer stay positive


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Don Kang and Justin Vaseur

Danny Alotta wants to make over cancer.

He is not a doctor finding a cure. But the Jackson Heights native is helping some of its youngest victims in a way that helped him through his own battle with cancer years ago.
Alotta is the founder of Joy Juice, a nonprofit that provides fashion makeovers to teens with cancer.

As a senior in high school, Alotta was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. What started out as a seemingly bad cold ended up as “borderline stage 4” cancer for the healthy, athletic teen, he said. Eleven years later, he was declared cancer-free.

“When you are a young person you are still invincible,” Alotta said. “For your parents they understand the seriousness.”

During his chemotherapy, Alotta would find ways to lift his spirits.

On the way out the door for his first chemotherapy treatment he announced it was time for his “joy juice.”

“It was my way of making it a game,” Alotta said. “The only thing I knew how to do was make it a game.”

He also made himself feel better through what he calls “makeovers.”

Alotta would dress up to go to the doctor, don a nice pair of socks around the house or his cousin Billy would buy him a new pair of sneakers.

“Maybe new shoes cure the blues,” he said, adding that a brand-new pair of sneakers still makes him happy to this day.

danny

Danny Alotta before he was diagnosed with cancer and while he was going through chemotherapy treatment. (Photo courtesy of Danny Alotta)

The chemotherapy mentally and physically affected Alotta, rendering him pale and changing his hair.

“You go through a point where you don’t feel presentable,” he said. “You look in the mirror and you don’t know who is staring back at you.”

In October 2012, Alotta, who is a partner in a clothing line and restaurant, decided to step away from his business ventures and use his branding knowledge to share his experience with cancer in the hope of helping others.

He decided to launch his nonprofit and write a movie, book and a one-man show.

His book, also called “Joy Juice,” was released in January 2014. His show, of the same name, debuted in June at the Kaufman Music Center on West 67th Street. Alotta hopes to perform it in other cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., next year, and he has already spoken to a studio about his movie script.

A little over a year ago, he started his teen cancer makeover organization, which received nonprofit status this summer.

joy_juice_las_vegas_june_2014-23

So far, it has held events with the Ronald McDonald House in New York and Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation in Las Vegas and has plans to work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Teen Cancer America.

The events can be simple as providing lunch and bringing sneakers, socks and headphones so the teens can listen to music during chemotherapy, which Alotta used to do. Sometimes makeup artists and stylists are brought in so the teens can “feel like a celebrity for a day.”

Alotta is also helping those dealing with cancer through the international organization Cancer Positive as its latest ambassador. Cancer Positive, which uses stories, quotes and helpful information to aid people in finding “their own silver lining,” sees Alotta’s story as inspiring because he is using it to encourage others to stay positive.

“They are an organization that sees cancer not only as a diagnosis — it’s about a state of mind,” Alotta said.

“I will never call myself a survivor,” he added. “I call myself a fortunate…because I am fortunate to still be here to tell my story.”

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9/11 heroes battle cancer with hope


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Thirteen years ago, when tragedy struck the World Trade Center, they were one of the first to respond to calls for help. Today, they are suffering the after-effects of their selflessness.

Two days before the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, four Queens residents, who developed cancer because of their exposure to carcinogenic substances at the WTC site, came forward to share their pain at the North Shore – LIJ’s WTC Clinical Center of Excellence at Rego Park on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

John Licato, 52, a resident of Howard Beach and a former cop with the 110th Precinct in Corona, was diagnosed with neck cancer in 2012. Since then he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation and now, his cancer is in remission. Christian Foggy, 67, an electrician from Jamaica who transported generators to the site for almost two months, was treated for prostate cancer.

Former narcotics cop Joe Ramondino, 52, developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “They said it was safe,” said the Maspeth resident about concerns that arose in the aftermath. Last August, he was told he is dealing with a type of cancer he calls “treatable but not curable.”

“It is devastating learning what is in your body,” he said. “I am just staying positive and following a healthy lifestyle.”

Added his wife Toni, “It was frightening. We are sticking together and getting through.”
The program at the WTC Clinical Center is federally funded by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is meant for treating the people who fell sick due to exposure to harmful materials at ground zero. The funding runs through 2016. Initially, the people being treated were those with respiratory disorders such as asthma and sinus cases, and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, cancer takes many years to develop, said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president and chair of Population Health at North Shore-LIJ. “We have more than 2,500 certified cases,” she said. “Truncating the program after 15 years is not right.”

Patricia Workman, 76, and her sister Julia Mooney, both from Flushing, helped at the site as Red Cross volunteers. “I worked in the pit, in the morgue, served meals, distributed supplies, whatever needed to be done,” said Workman. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. She was treated and went into remission but suffered a relapse earlier this year. Despite her trauma, she says she doesn’t regret helping out the way she did. “It was a terrible day,” she said. “We should not forget it because if you do, it can happen again.”

Mooney, who suffered from PTSD due to her time at the site, added, “These people [who died that day] deserve to be remembered always.”

Despite their pain, the patients and their families are staying positive. As Ramondino put it, “Things could have been worse. Lots of people died that day. We are still here.”

“I have three children and three grandchildren,” said Workman. “I have a lot to live for.”

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Breast cancer survivors create dragon boat racing team to raise funds


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Paddle for the Cure Dragon Boat Club


A new Queens-based dragon boat racing team is hoping to beat breast cancer by paddling.

The Paddle for the Cure Dragon Boat Club, a group comprised mostly of breast cancer survivors from the borough, is training in the World’s Fair Marina for competitions this year to support cancer research, while creating bonds with others who bested the disease.

The group, which is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, formed last year after breast cancer survivor Leah Salmorin reached out to trainer James Ma during a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure fundraising event.

Dragon boat racing is an effective remedy for breast cancer survivors, because contrary to the prior belief that after surgery people shouldn’t exercise, the paddling helps women regain strength in their arms, according to Ma. Also, dragon boat racing is a fun sport that gives women a chance to interact and trade stories instead of exercising in a boring gym area.

“From experience working with them, they usually gravitate towards the sport and try to regain control of their lives after cancer,” said Ma, now president and coach of the club. “Each time they paddle, the race is already won as they enrich their lives by gaining strength and dignity.”

The club began weekly Saturday morning practices in May, hoping to compete in races in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Florida later this year.

They are collecting donations through events for equipment, and 20 percent of the funds raised will go to the New York City affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The team will hold a bowling fundraising event on August 26 at Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan that is open to everyone.

The club is run “by survivors for survivors,” but the group is open to anyone who would like to participate.

When Rockaway Beach resident Kelly Kelley, who beat breast cancer in 2007, received an email about the team, she felt it might be a refreshing experience to give it a try.

A tennis coach at The Mary Louise Academy in Jamaica, Kelley said she thought it would be a great fit because she likes sports and water.

And although drills were difficult for the women when she first started, she reminded her teammates that they beat cancer and can stand up against anything.

“We are a new team, we are new to the sport, so we have to work hard if we want to progress,” Kelley said. “I tell the other women, ‘Listen, it’s not worse than chemotherapy.’”

 

 

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Last surviving Ramones member, Ridgewood resident dies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The last surviving original member of the punk-rock band The Ramones, Tommy Ramone, died at his Ridgewood home Friday, according to published reports. He was 65 years old.

The drummer, whose real name was Thomas Erdelyi, had reportedly been in hospice and battling bile duct cancer.

Erdelyi was originally from Hungary and raised in Forest Hills, where he attended Forest Hills High School with the band’s other three founding members, Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin), Johnny (John Cummings) and Joey (Jeffrey Hyman) Ramone.

He performed on the band’s first three albums and was later replaced by drummer Marky (Marc Bell) Ramone. He then went on to concentrate on producing, reports said.

 

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Street to be co-named for Bayside teacher who died from cancer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Former P.S. 41 science teacher Geri Cilmi’s motto to her students in the Bayside school was “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.”

So when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007, instead of fretting about it, Cilmi took all the necessary treatment and fought the disease with a smile, her husband, Tom, said.

“She was fantastic,” he said. “[Doctors] were amazed at her attitude and everything was just hunky-dory.”

But the cancer attacked strong in 2011 and Cilmi, a mother of one and beloved public school teacher of four decades, died that May. To honor her memory and achievements, a former student, Thomas Fennell, requested a street be co-named and Community Board 11 approved it. Family and friends will gather on June 20 as Councilman Paul Vallone unveils the new Mrs. Geri Cilmi Place at 214th Lane behind the school.

Cilmi began teaching in 1967 as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn elementary schools. When she shifted to P.S. 41 in 1989 she became a full-time science teacher. She retired in 2008.

Photo courtesy Thomas Cilmi 

During her time at P.S. 41, Cilmi was loved by colleagues and students for her extraordinary effort as a teacher. Cilmi hosted science nights in the school, where parents and students were able to do a variety of experiments. She applied for numerous grants for the school, including one from NASA for a weather station. She also set up the school’s garden. She was vice president of the Elementary School Science Association (ESSA) and made various science presentations for children.

“She was one of those people that were a natural teacher,” said second grade teacher Diane DiBlasi, who worked with Cilmi at P.S. 41 for two decades. “She opened up the world to so many children in a positive way.”

Outside of teaching, Cilmi was a bright woman who loved to dance and a devoted mother who raised her son to be a Harvard University-educated doctor. She listened to The Beatles and Elvis Presley, and loved to draw. Cilmi desired to write a children’s book, but never had the chance.

Tom will be present at the ceremony and believes his wife deserves the honor.

“It gives me the feeling that she really accomplished something,” he said. “She touched a lot of people and an awful lot of children.”

 

 

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John Starks and St. John’s Dribbles for a Cure


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

In front of nearly 400 students, children and family members, St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin stood in his trademark black pants and white sneakers. His focus wasn’t basketball, the upcoming season or the string of new Dribbles recruits he has ushered in.

Instead, Lavin reminded the crowd that cancer, in one way or another, affects everyone sooner or later.

“Cancer will touch everyone at some point in your lifetime,” he said. “Whether it’s you personally going through that battle, just the probabilities, the law of averages, a sibling, a mother or father, a grandfather, someone in the neighborhood, someone that is a good friend. It’s going to touch all of us at some point.”

Lavin, who last year underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, was one of several St. John’s sports officials who took part in the school’s second “Dribble for the Cure,” held on Saturday, September 22 to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Among those who came out to support the cause were former longtime coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser, women’s basketball coach Joe Tartamella and New York Knicks alum John Starks.

At press time, the event raised around $25,000 for research, according to the school.

Taking a break from training for their upcoming seasons, players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in the dribble, which circled around the school’s campus before reconvening at their home court in Carnesecca Arena.

One of those players, guard Phil Greene, said taking the time out to participate in an event like this really benefited the kids who were battling cancer.

“Giving back to the kids, you give them something to look forward to,” he said. “Giving the time out of our day, it’s nothing because they’re going through a lot of turmoil right now. It just makes you feel good, because they look up to us and we just give them something just to look forward to.”

Starks, who has lost several relatives to cancer, said he lost his grandmother, mother and sister to breast cancer and could empathize what it was like to battle the disease.

“I understand what the families go through, and it’s great to see we’re all here and understanding that this fight is never, never, never ending,” he said.

Lavin, who before the event confirmed to reporters that he is now cancer free, told the participants that their attendance was inspiring and should drive others to support the fight against cancer.

“Clearly, this is an example of the human spirit, and that’s what this is really a celebration of,” he said. “Those that support loved ones that are struggling with the dreaded disease are showing compassion, and compassion is part of the human spirit. Your time is well spent today and I want you to pat yourself on the back for showing up, showing a great example for others to follow and creating great synergy.”

Update: Cuomo signs bill banning tanning for children under 17


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Queens teenagers who want glowing, bronze skin may soon have no choice but to burn at the beach.

The New York State Senate and Assembly recently passed legislation to outlaw the use of indoor tanning parlors for teens 16 and under, to help protect the kids from the dangers of skin cancer from ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitting devices.

The bills were delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 6, and became law on July 16 with his signature.  The law takes effect in 30 days.

“Exposure to UV radiation can be extremely harmful, particularly for younger people, and this new law will help protect teenagers from the heightened risk of skin cancer that can come from using indoor tanning devices,” Cuomo said. “This legislation recognizes that many tanning salons are small businesses facing economic challenges, however, protecting our children must always be our first priority. I thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblymember Weisenberg for their hard work on this legislation.”

“Research has shown that indoor UV tanning can significantly increase the chances of developing skin cancer and that the rays produced by indoor tanning machines are far more intense than those produced by the sun,” said Senator Charles Fuschillo, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “This legislation would help protect children from something that could cause them serious harm later in life.”

The bills, S2917 and S3083, strengthen the state’s current law, which prohibits tanning for kids under the age of 14 and allows teens between ages 14 through 17 to receive indoor treatment with parental consent.

The law would also require 17 year olds to show parental consent to tanning salons.

Indoor tanning before age 30 increases a person’s chances of getting cancer by 75 percent, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

UV emitting tanning devices are classified by the IARC in the highest level of cancer risk, placing them in the same category as asbestos and cigarette smoke.

“Melanoma as you may already know is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer,” said Dr. Carol Huang, a dermatologist at Queens Crossing Dermatology in Flushing. “If detected early, it can be effectively treated, but if discovered late, it can metastasize. A ban on teenage tanning would be beneficial to their health.”

Local officials are also behind the bill, praising its foresight.

“The law will attempt to reduce total lifetime exposure to concentrated UV light and cut associated risks,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who sits on the Health Committee and supported the measure.

The original draft of the bill was intended to outlaw tanning for all teens under 18, but was altered to accommodate small business.

“Small salons thought if we went up to 18 it would be detrimental to business,” a representative of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said. “We view this change as a reasonable compromise.”

However, tanning companies aren’t buying lawmakers’ approach to sizzle their business. The Indoor Tanning Association is rallying support to shut the proposed changes down, as well as others like it around the nation.

“I don’t see why it’s so necessary, we are regulated already,” said Vanessa Staffa, director of operations in Queens for Beach Bum Tanning — a popular chain that owns six locations in the borough. “There are still going to be people going to the beach or online and purchasing home units, irresponsibly, because there will be nobody to regulate them.”

James Oliver, CEO of Beach Bum Tanning, added that indoor tanning should be a personal or at least parental decision and not taken away from the government.

But a local teen disagreed.

“It’s fair,” said Whitestone resident Taylor Lamacchia. “Sixteen-year-olds don’t know what’s best for them. If their friends are tanning they will also tan.

Lamacchia, 18, who has been tanning frequently since she was 16 to improve her appearance, added, “Parents want to be their children’s friends so they take them tanning at a young age to help them fit in, but they are truly putting their children at risk.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

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