Uniting to fight cancer

Don't let the pandemic keep you from getting cancer screenings

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Hoboken resident, mom and cancer survivor Nathalie Crews-Vargo. Photo by Cassie Mascari.
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Hoboken officials, resident Nathalie Crews-Vargo, and Little Hoboken raised the "Strong as a Mother Flag" for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo by Cassie Mascari.
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Hoboken resident, mom and cancer survivor Nathalie Crews-Vargo. Photo by Cassie Mascari.
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Hoboken officials, resident Nathalie Crews-Vargo, and Little Hoboken raised the "Strong as a Mother Flag" for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo by Cassie Mascari.

The pandemic has negatively impacted every kind of day-to-day activity. For philanthropies, fundraising has become even more difficult, but Hoboken residents are facing the challenge head on.

This month, Little Hoboken and resident Nathalie Crews-Vargo are partnering with local businesses and the city to help raise awareness and funds to battle breast cancer, a cause close to Crews-Vargo’s heart.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38,” she said. “I didn’t have cancer running in my family. I was very active. I even used clean products, but there I was faced with something that nobody ever wants to hear; that you have cancer.”

She said the Hoboken community supported her through the diagnosis, and now she is cancer- and chemo-free.

“I was fortunate enough that I live in this great town … and this community just rallied around me and came up with a team for me when I started my chemo, which was #teamnat,” she said, noting that her “southwest posse” wore bright pink shirts with #teamnat on them.

“The overwhelming support and love that I received through this town has been truly amazing,” Crews-Vargo said.

Now the cancer survivor and mother is fighting to raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society with the help of the organization Little Hoboken.

Initiated by Crews-Vargo and Little Hoboken, the council adopted a resolution recognizing October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the mile-square city.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. It impacts roughly 277,000 women, as well as more than 2,600 men each year. It’s responsible for more than 42,000 deaths annually in the United States.

Cancer screenings decreased during the pandemic

Awareness is needed now more than ever. During the pandemic, the number of newly identified patients with any of six main cancers fell by 46 percent, according to the council’s resolution, which noted that research has found that screenings for breast and other types of cancers has dropped by 90 percent since the declaration of the COVID-19 National Emergency.

The aim of the unanimously adopted resolution is to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms, so that it can be more easily identified and more effectively treated.

“With respect to the health side of talking about breast cancer awareness, particularly during COVID, people have not been going for regular health screenings, and unfortunately the longer that people are undiagnosed, the worse it can be in terms of your chances of survival,” said Councilwoman Emily Jabbour who sponsored the resolution. “So it’s important to get the word out, that as people are returning to some level of normalcy, to make sure that [a screening] is on your list of things to do.”

The city also helped raise awareness through Hoboken’s first-ever flag raising in honor of the month.

The pink-striped flag, much like the American flag, has a pink ribbon in the upper left corner, with the words “strong as a mother” along the bottom.

Typically, Crews-Vargo and Little Hoboken raise funds through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Jersey City, a walkathon hosted every October, but due to the pandemic, the traditional walk has been canceled.

To overcome this year’s expected decrease in contributions due to the walk’s cancelation, Little Hoboken has organized several Hoboken businesses to donate part of their proceeds this month to the American Cancer Society.

Participating businesses include Choc O Pain Bakery, Black Rail Coffee, Blo It Out Lounge, the Co., The Green Room, Hudson Coffee, Love Amarie, Modcup Coffee, Roig Collection, and Little Hoboken.

Little Hoboken will host an online auction with more details made available on Oct. 26 through the organization’s social media accounts.

For a complete list of participating businesses, go to https://www.littlehoboken.com/post/fight-like-a-mother-with-us.

To make a contribution to the American Cancer Society through Little Hoboken’s Fight Like a Mother Team go to https://tinyurl.com/fightlikeamotherhob

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.