WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Coping with a difficult medical diagnosis can be a serious struggle. When a NEPA child education specialist received her bad news, the community she touches reached out in a big way. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us how the outpouring of support is helping.
Sara Pisarz was brought to tears by the chant “Team Sara Strong” and the dozens of teens delivering it last November at the annual B’nai B’rith Youth Organization Tournament Convention in Harrisburg. Team Sara Strong has now become a social media rallying cry for the Early Childhood Education Director at the Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley. Wilkes-Barre BBYO Vice President Rebecca Hammerman said, “Ever since she got the diagnosis that she had appendix cancer, I needed to be there for her,” said 17-year-old Rebecca Hammerman.
Ms. Hammerman helped with the sale of #TeamSaraStrong tee-shirts to help defray some medical costs facing the woman she’s known since 4th grade. “She’s like my mentor and I look up to her so much.” Liberty Region BBYO Regional Director Jeff Koch added, “Knowing that Sara puts others before herself, this was our time to rally around her.”
There’s significant symbolism to the #TeamSaraStrong tee-shirts. An amber ribbon on an elephant’s trunk represents the color for appendix cancer and the elephant, itself, rarely ever gets cancer. Appendix cancer is uncommon. Sara had her diseased appendix removed last September but the cancer had already spread. Dealing with the diagnosis tested her mettle. “I either am going to crawl up in a ball and say poor Sara and not rally and do (anything) or I better put my foot down and put (on) my big girl panties and do this.”
She underwent six months of chemotherapy treatment to prepare for more surgery next week at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. “They’re going to open my stomach up and take whatever the disease left inside me.” And when doctors do, Sara will find strength in numbers back home from a community that’s joined in the fight to hold her sprits high.
Sara says the chemo treatments that ended in mid-March helped shrink her cancer. Her surgery is scheduled for April 17th. She hopes to be well enough in time for the JCC Summer Camp which begins in June in Dallas, Luzerne County. #TeamSaraStrong tee-shirts are $20 for short sleeves and $25 for long sleeves. You can order one by calling 973-650-5388 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.