Customer Appreciation Day at Rita's will benefit cancer patient

August 27, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL


When Lori Rovito noticed that her 6-month-old daughter had a droopy eyelid and an abnormally small pupil on one side, she took her to an eye doctor.

Advised to put the baby, Dena, through further testing, she sought a second opinion at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"There was no discussion about it being cancer," Rovito recalled.

Dena saw a neurologist and underwent an MRI.

"The day I went for the results, I found out she had cancer at 2 p.m. and at 2:30, I was meeting with the oncologist," Rovito recalled.

In rapid succession, she also saw the surgeon and the financial aid workers.

"That's how quickly they moved because of the severity of this type of cancer," she said.

Dena had neuroblastoma, a cancer of the sympathetic nerves. Doctors surgically removed 66 percent of the tumor, which is in her neck beside the spinal column.


"Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is the leading pediatric cancer center in the country," Rovito said. "The research that had been done previously allowed her to get the type of treatment she did. Her type of cancer has the potential to be lethal, as it can spread rapidly."

Now 17 months old, Dena is doing great, her mother said. Research shows that children younger than 1 year old do well with less aggressive treatment for this particular type of cancer, Rovito said. The remainder of her tumor is being monitored. Dena has CAT scans every three months, which show the tumor is shrinking.

Rovito works in her parents' business, Rita's Italian Ices in Chambersburg, which has been raising funds all month for pediatric cancer research.

Today, the family will hold a Customer Appreciation Day to thank customers for their donations and for continuing to patronize Rita's during the construction on U.S. 30.

So far, the Chambersburg and Frederick, Md., Rita's, both owned by Frank and Toni Rovito, have raised $4,000.

"Our goal is $6,000 by the end of August," Lori Rovito said.

All activities today are free, she said, and there will be a raffle for one month of free ices.

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month.

Lori Rovito will present the money raised to the hospital Sept. 15; Dena, her only child, is scheduled for a CAT scan the next day.

Every cent given to pediatric cancer research counts, Lori said.

"Five dollars could mean one more test run on a bone marrow sample," she said.

If you go

What: Customer Appreciation Day

When: Today, 2 to 6 p.m.

Where: Rita's Italian Ices, 1245 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, Pa.

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