BERKELEY – It’s become an annual tradition – because the need for it never goes away.
The governing body named the month of September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. They encouraged businesses to put gold ribbons in their windows – the symbol for this group of horrible illnesses that is more common than anyone would realize.
During a recent Township Council meeting, Janet O’Brien and her family spoke about how important it is to spread the word about something that no one wants to talk about, the prevalence of a disease that impacts families all over the country.
Her daughter, Emiliana Rose, passed away in 2015 at just 13 years of age. She had been fighting osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. These few sentences don’t accurately describe the hardships the family endured that year.
Emiliana had some medical complaints in January, but they had been called tendonitis and other things until the diagnosis finally came a few months later. An intense battle ensued, with doctors throwing radiation and chemotherapy at it, all while she never gave up hope. She earned her wings on December 1.
O’Brien said that Emiliana would ask “Why doesn’t anyone know anything about my cancer?”
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages one to 14, according to the American Cancer Society. Accidents are number one. Yet, cancer research specialized for children is not as common.
Only four drugs for children have been approved since 1980, O’Brien said when listing other important information about childhood cancer.
“We didn’t know these facts until it affected our families,” she said.
That’s why they have been working to spread the word about these illnesses. She leads a nonprofit called Emiliana’s Hope, which has raised over $90,000 for osteosarcoma research.
Mayor Carmen Amato read a proclamation naming the month of September Childhood Cancer Month. He asked residents and businesses are encouraged to “wrap the town in gold,” using gold ribbons to spread awareness.
Visit EmilianasHope.com for more information. Their online fundraising is at gofundme.com/emiliana-shope