WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Families and friends honored National Cancer Survivor’s Day on Sunday, but one young cancer survivor could barely see the crowds.
Adam Aftyka, 9, lost an eye to cancer, or retinoblastoma, and is hoping not to lose the other.
Aftyka and his grandmother came to the U.S. from Poland for medical treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
While Aftyka couldn’t see exactly who was in attendance from his Brooklyn school District 14, he could hear their familiar voices.
“We are so proud of Adam. He’s our best boy in school. He survived and thrived,” assistant principal Maria LoRe told PIX11. “He and his grandmother are amazing.”
School superintendent Alicia Winnicki said Aftyka’s grandmother is also a fighter.
“She’s now a mission,” Winnicki said. “It’s possible for him to gain back his eyesight.”
More than 27 teams and thousands of participants joined in the American Cancer Society’s relay for life of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
“The Relay For Life of Williamsburg will raise 50,000 to help patients and families all across the city and country,” Nancy Colt, senior representative for community engagement for the American Cancer Society in Brooklyn and Staten Island, said.
Everyone at the event was there to support those battling cancer.
There was team Joseph for leukemia patient Joseph Maroney, who is 6 years old and about to have a bone marrow transplant next week.
“We are participating in all these things that we can before just to distract him best we can and just have fun,” Gemma Maroney, his mother, told PIX11.
“It gives us more confidence and make him feel a little more special,” his father Christian Maroney added.
Nicholas DeRosa attends a relay for life every year in gratitude. The 67-year-old beat muscular sarcoma 41 years ago.
“The doctor said if you want to survive, don’t feel sorry for yourself,” De Rosa said.
A thyroid cancer survivor myself, we all received medals and proudly marched on. For all these cancer survivors, it’s knowing we’re not alone that has made all the difference.