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Benefit planned for local woman battling rare form of cancer

KEESEVILLE A North Country woman has been fighting a rare form of cancer for more than a decade, and her family is hoping the support that has gotten her this far will continue. The family and friends of Plattsburgh resident Rosie Rotella will host a benefit this Saturday in her honor at the Knights of Columbus hall in Keeseville. The benefit, said Roses daughter, Angie Rotella, will help with the many expenses she has incurred during the course of her treatments. Rosie, a Port Henry native, was diagnosed in 1996 with adenoid cystic carcinoma, commonly referred to as ACC. The rare malignancy typically originates in the salivary glands, though Rosies cancer first appeared in tumors in her sinuses. She underwent surgery to remove the growths and underwent radiation therapy. She did pretty well for about five or six years and then we found it came back in her lungs, Angie recalled of her mothers affliction. Rosie developed tumors in both lungs, though the slow-growing nature of her cancer oddly didnt have an effect on her health. The tumors were almost dormant, said Angie. This is the kind of cancer where you dont want to do anything unless its affecting you, because if you go in and try to remove something, you can agitate it and make it worse, she explained. Its a little different than most cancers. About a year ago, however, doctors found a tumor had developed in Rosies skull, said Angie, which grew down into her eye socket. The months that followed involved consultations and examinations with several different doctors, before finding a proper course of treatment for Rosies condition. Due to the tumors location, surgery was not an option. She was in constant pain. It was really scary, said Angie. She couldnt work; she had to go on disability. Thats when the doctors decided it was time to do something. In August, Rosie traveled to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., one of two sites in the country that offers neutron radiation treatment, a highly effective form of radiation therapy. The neutron therapy specializes in treating inoperable tumors like Rosies that are not likely to be completely eradicated by traditional radiation treatment. While the treatment process takes about half the time of traditional radiation, Rosie was still required to be away from home for more than five weeks. Regardless of the time she was required to spend away from her family, the treatment was her mothers last and only option, said Angie. Its hard, because when they call you to tell you to do it, you have to get out there in like two or three days, Angie said of her mother flying to Seattle. The airline tickets are really expensive when youre trying to get a flight right away. In addition to the cost of the treatment and traveling to Seattle, Rosie and her family are facing other mounting expenses such as lodging and food. Thats where this Saturdays benefit comes in. The event will begin at 4 p.m., with an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. The dinner, which will cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door, will feature homemade spaghetti sauce, fresh bread, homemade desserts, and salad made with fresh, local produce. The evening will also include performances by the Adirondack Brass Quintet and the Wallace Hill Jazz Quartet. The Knights of Columbus hall is located at 1435 State Route 9. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, contact Anne Lenox Barlow at 534-0208 or Angie at 420-6109. Angie said her mom, who was flying home when this article went to press, would have one piece of advice to others going through their own battles with life-threatening diseases. I know if my mom could say something to help others in her situation, it would be to not be afraid to go away to get the help you need, she said. It is difficult on the cancer patient and their families and friends. However, in the long run,receiving the best possible treatment is definitely worth the inconvenience and expenses.

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