NJ community unites for Fil-Am child fighting cancer

TENAFLY, N.J. – When parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church found out that Fil-Am RJ Sy spent his fourth birthday getting medical treatment for cancer at a hospital, the community of Tenafly in Bergen County, N.J. came together Sunday to lift his spirits.

Since he was diagnosed last September, RJ has been fighting stage 4 neuroblastoma – a cancerous tumor that develops in the nerve tissues of mostly children under five years old.

Last December, RJ underwent surgery that took out a tumor the size of a bagel between his liver and kidney.

He is now in clinical trials using an experimental treatment called “natural killers”. His mom, Cheely Ann Sy, hopes this treatment would boost RJ’s own body’s ability to fight cancer.

Sy said, “We’re just praying. We’re asking our entire community to pray with us because it’s either really really good that it worked which is what we’re hoping or not good.”

To celebrate RJ’s birthday on Sunday, the Tenafly Fire Department made RJ’s dream of becoming a firefighter come true, even for just a day.

“We want to bring some cheer to him. We made him an honorary fire chief. I hope he enjoys that,” said Bill Conolly, a former chief of Tenafly’s fire department.

The parish also threw a birthday bash fundraiser to help the Sy family with their growing medical bills.

From magicians, party games and dancing – RJ’s spectacular party was an unforgettable experience for a boy going through tough times.

“I want to let him know, not only him but everybody in this room, he’s not alone, that they are truly loved,” Our Lady or Mount Carmel’s organizer Elliot Guerra said. “Happy 4th birthday RJ. We love you, and enjoy the day. You are the king of the day.”

Neil Callahan, a parishioner of Our Lady or Mount Carmel said, “It’s really amazing how the whole community has rallied around RJ and his family. The whole town and the whole church community. [We’re] making their struggle everyone else’s struggle and we’re trying to lend as much support.”

The community here says they are one with the Sy family as they battle against cancer and that they are never alone in their fight for RJ’s speedy recovery.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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