A young boy from the Dayton section of South Brunswick is an ambassador for this year’s Help Cure Childhood Cancer Campaign, an annual fundraiser to raise money for pediatric treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).
Arjun, 10, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in July 2019. His treatment lasted a little less than a year – 13 cycles of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation and surgery to remove the tumor.
“Arjun was very positive from Day One and really set the tone as a family. He was very cooperative with all treatments and with six months of physical therapy at the Hospital for Special Surgery,” his parents said in an interview with the Sentinel.
“Initially he just knew he had Ewing’s sarcoma, but didn’t know it was a cancer. He came and asked [us] if it was cancer, and they were open and honest with him.
“First cycle was very difficult and we had to travel every day from New Jersey to New York City, which was very taxing on him. Nausea, couldn’t eat, and other side effects. Stayed at Ronald McDonald House which was great and helped with the travel.
“Everyone at MSK was amazing and really helped him get through everything and the side effects. He bonded with everyone at MSK – nurses, doctors., etc. – which helped us mentally and emotionally.
“He has a very close friend who has supported Arjun throughout his entire treatment and has made him feel as normal as possible,” his parents said.
Arjun recently finished treatment, according to information provided by the Rubenstein firm. As a patient at MSK he enjoyed the crafting activities, especially drawing. He also enjoys reading about historical facts and is an avid fan of animals, according to the statement.
“Progress is very good. Final scans came back good. Cancer is gone with the tumor, so we are hoping everything stays on track. Body still recovering and getting back to normal. Goes in for monthly checkups and scans every three months. Sad not to see everyone at hospital anymore because they became a second family. They supported us like a second home,” his parents said.
After taking a break from school due to his treatments, Arjun is currently getting back to his schoolwork as a fifth-grader at Indian Fields Elementary School and is looking forward to becoming a nurse practitioner when he grows up, according to the statement.
“I’m looking forward to just going to school since [I have] not been in so long, and of course the end of COVID,” Arjun said in an interview, since he has only been able to go to the beach if it’s not crowded, or see friends in the backyard.
The Help Cure Childhood Cancer Campaign is held by Stop & Shop to benefit cancer research at MSK.
This year, shoppers will be able to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar at the self-checkout and main registers, with 100% of the change going to the hospitals. Customers will also find reusable bags with artwork created by patients available for 99 cents, with 25 cents from the sale going to the pediatric cancer center.
Individuals shopping at StopandShop.com for pickup or home delivery can donate $1, $3 or $5 when they check out.
“A coordinator at MSK asked us to be an ambassador for the program and [Arjun] quickly said ‘yes.’ He was so friendly with everyone, they all wanted him to do it. Arjun is very excited to do it and happy,” his parents said. “He is very happy about [advocating for children with cancer]; he thinks it is important to do good deeds to help other people.”
“We are honored to be continuing our longstanding partnership with Stop & Shop this year,” Dr. Andrew Kung, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, MSK, said in the statement. “For nearly two decades, the company and its dedicated associates and customers have shown an unwavering commitment to supporting research and care at MSK Kids.
“This dedication to philanthropy, particularly during these challenging times due to the COVID-19 crisis, allows our team to develop and provide the best treatment options to kids today, while making discoveries that will bring new hope to more families tomorrow,” Krug said.
September marks National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. The Help Cure Childhood Cancer campaign supports pediatric cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MSK.
Last year, Stop & Shop raised $2.5 million for the two hospitals. Since 2001, Stop & Shop has raised more than $24 million to support pediatric cancer research at MSK.
This year’s campaign will run at all Stop & Shop stores through Sept. 30.
“Help Cure Childhood Cancer provides Stop & Shop’s caring customers and dedicated associates an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children and young adults who have been affected by cancer,” Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid said in the statement. “Their generosity is only matched by their impact.”