Benefit raises thousands for woman with rare cancer

KEESEVILLE For more than a decade, Rosie Rotella has been fighting a rare form of cancer. Now with generous support from friends and family, shes continuing that battle. Rosies children, Angie, 23, and Joey, 21, organized a benefit dinner for her on Sept. 27 at the Knights of Columbus meeting hall. With about 45 people in attendance, and many more sending cards and donations, the dinner raised over $3,200 to help offset the expenses of her latest treatment. In 1996, Rosie was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, also known as ACC. The rare form of cancer, which spreads much more slowly than most, first developed in her sinuses. Twelve years ago the doctors told her she had six months to live, said Angie, and she said, No I dont. Ill find somebody. So shes not afraid to go where she needs to go to get the treatment she needs. Surgery removed some of the initial tumors and she underwent radiation and chemotherapy, but it did not have much effect. Its such a rare cancer that most of the doctors, especially around here, havent even heard of it, so they didnt know what to do, explained Angie. Still, the slow-spreading malignancies did not affect Rosies ability to live a normal lifestyle until recently when spreading tumors put her in constant, intense pain. It was enough to keep her from going to work. The sudden change prompted her to seek expert treatment, and she was referred to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA; one of two hospitals in the country that offer neutron radiation therapy. The specialized treatment is often more effective, especially on inoperable tumors like Rosies. When she went out there, we knew that it wasnt going to get all of it, said Angie. It was just something that would make the quality of her life for a few more years bearable. Though her insurance covered most of the cost of the treatment, the expenses for travel and several weeks worth of lodging became burdensome. We have a lot of expenses that we just cannot cover right now, Angie said. We dont like asking for handouts, but when you get to that point... Encouraged by friends, Angie and her brother pooled the resources of generous donors to put on the fundraising dinner, scheduling it to coincide with Rosies return from Seattle. Its done its job, Angie said of Rosies treatment, Shes home now and doing really well with everything, considering what she went through. Though Rosie couldnt attend the dinner in person because of an immune system weakened by radiation, it didnt stop family and friends from coming out by the dozens in her support. Angie said that it was their presence and their offers of prayers and friendship that meant the most. That really helps us keep going even more than the money, she said.

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