Anne Bastianelli Lofaro, of Absecon, has stage four pancreatic cancer. But she still feels like her life “just keeps getting better, with all of my coworkers and friends supporting me,” she said.
Lofaro, 60, is supervisor of language arts literacy and media for the Atlantic City School District. Born and raised in Atlantic City, she has been with the district since 1974, right out of college. Co-workers such as Early Childhood Education Supervisor Grace Burch, of Egg Harbor Township, have been driving her to work and helping in countless other ways, she said.
“They wore purple and wigs on Thursdays in November and December, to support me,” she said, adding purple is the color for pancreatic cancer. They have also been selling purple wrist bands that say “No one fights alone,” and are donating the money raised, about $500 so far, to a pancreatic cancer research project at Jefferson University Medical Center in Philadelphia. That’s where Lofaro goes for treatment.
Co-workers gave her a purple Christmas tree for her desk, and a gift of money to take a trip with her husband. District Superintendent Donna Haye and Assistant Superintendent Sherry Yahn had purple school T-shirts made and gave them to all who attended a holiday party.
“This is a difficult disease to manage. Only six percent of people have a five-year survival rate,” Lofaro said. “I pray for a miracle, but the miracle is around you every single day, when people support you.”
Valentine Benavidez, of Wildwood, takes his pet conure, Gordy, with him everywhere. She rides on his shoulder or hanges onto the front of his shirt.
“I’ve had her for 16 years,” he said recently, when he and Gordy were spotted outside the Starbucks in Rio Grande. “She’s been to Texas with me. She goes to the beach.” Benavidez said Gordy is affectionate with him and his wife, home healthcare worker Trudy Seher.
Gordy used to drink beer with him, before he gave up the stuff; dances like Stevie Wonder and talks, Benavidez said.
“Bye bye!” Gordy said loudly as they turned to go.
Catharine Tarquinio, of Richland in Buena Vista Township, earned a gold medal in baking and pastry at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts awards ceremony in December.
She is also a member of the college’s archery team.
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