NJ family inspires Teen Cancer Awareness Week

January 21, 2013 12:40:09 PM PST
Next week is "Teen Cancer Awareness Week."

Senator Pat Toomey and Senator Bob Menendez sponsored the resolution, after hearing the inspiring story of a South Jersey teenager and her family.

Gisele DiNatale says her daughter Alicia did everything.

"She was a great scholar, she was an amazing athlete, was incredibly artistic," said DiNatale.

She fought cancer with a smile and bravery.

Alicia was 16 when she was diagnosed with a rare Adnocarcinoma - a cancer than had taken over her body.

"I knew what it meant and I filed it way back in my brain because if I thought about it every day I wouldn't survive," said DiNatale.

The family did everything they could to fight the cancer but 13 months later Alicia lost her battle. It was in 2002 and she was only 17.

That's when the DiNatales created the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation to give hope and help to other teenagers battling cancer.

Special kits are sent to teens at 80 hospitals. The kits have cards, book lights, games and a journal.

The foundation also helps hospitals create 'teen lounges' like one at Virtua Voorhees.

Keara Palmay who battled Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was 16, loves the idea.

She says many hospitals have areas for little kids and for adults but none for teens.

"It's really good because when you are a teenager you already feel lost as it is and then you throw cancer in and it's even more difficult to deal with that," said Palmay.

Palmay says this little place of comfort can make a big difference.

DiNatale says it captures her daughter's spirit.

It is rare for a teenager to get cancer but it is also the number one cause of death from disease for 15 to 19-year-olds.

For more information about Alicia's story or the foundation, visit: http://www.victoriousfoundation.org/