In 1974, 15-year-old Nancy Vitiello Bakalis was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Osteogenic Sarcoma. Her prognosis was not good and the initial opinion of doctors was that she would lose her leg and possibly her life to the disease. Her parents brought Nancy to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for a second opinion. It was there that they met doctors Ralph C. Marcove and Gerald Rosen. Dr. Marcove performed a surgical procedure where he removed Nancy’s left knee, femur and hip, replacing the bones with a titanium rod and artificial hip. She was then given 12 months of high dose chemotherapy under the watchful eye of Dr. Rosen.
The following year, the St. Lucy Bruins of St. Lucy’s Church Basketball League played a benefit game against St. Peter’s of Belleville for the Nancy Vitiello Trust Fund to raise money for the teenager’s extensive medical treatment. The surgery and treatment was successful and this June, Nancy will celebrate 45 years of being cancer free.
Now married and a mother of two, Nancy is a strong supporter of cancer awareness and fund raising events. She is sponsoring a team at the Cycle for Survival event which will take place on March 3rd at Equinox, located at 776 Route 17 North in Paramus, New Jersey.
One hundred percent of every dollar donated provides pioneering cancer research into the rare form of this insidious disease, led by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As a survivor of one of those rare cancers, Nancy is committed to do everything she can to raise funds for this important research. She recognizes that when cancers are considered rare, research is often vastly underfunded.
Not everyone can be a doctor or a cancer specialist, but when the disease strikes, those afflicted are in the hands of these remarkable men and women. What each of us can do is arm these medical professionals with the resources they need to combat these diseases.
Nancy needs people to volunteer to ride the stationary bikes and pledge money to reach her goal. Team Vitiello Bakalis will have two bikes. Please visit Nancy’s fundraising page through the link below to make a fully tax-deductible donation and help make that happen.
The website is www.mskcc.convio.net/goto/TeamVitielloBakalis. Use the password Mommabak58 to sign up to ride a bike or to donate. The bikes are stationary and riders take turns riding them. Whether you pedal fast or slow, you will be joining the battle and helping to support an incredibly important cause!
NANCY VITIELLO, second from left in back, is pictured with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Vitiello and twin sisters, Valerie and Vita at the St. Lucy’s fundraiser in her honor. This old photograph appeared in a 1975 issue of the Italian Tribune.