Today’s news:

Teen’s cancer-fighting legacy lives on - Family urges Congress to devote more money to disease

Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano may have lost his own battle with cancer, but his fight to help others continues. This week the family of the late Bay Ridge teenager joined Rep. Vito Fossella to call on Congress to pass a bill that would expand research into and treatment of pediatric cancer—the same legislation Frankie lobbied for during the final months of his life. Xaverian High School student Frankie Loccisano passed away on September 14, 2007 at the age of 17. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, in July of 2005 and bravely fought the illness for 27 months. On Monday, Fossella gathered with a large group Frankie’s family members and Xaverian classmates for a news conference outside of St. Ephrem School at 7415 Fort Hamilton Parkway. Frankie attended St. Ephrem’s until the 8th grade. Clutching a photo of her late son, Frankie’s mother Camille Loccisano described her son as a “bright, beautiful young boy” who passed on “at the dawn of his life.” “We are all here today united in a cause that was so important to my son,” Camille Loccisano told reporters. “There will be more children diagnosed with cancer and we hope and pray that with more research and with better treatment, they will not face what all of us here have faced,” she said. “There are very few issues as important as the health of our nation’s children.” Fossella recounted how last year he received a letter from Frankie Loccisano asking for his support of the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. The legislation would provide $150 million over five years to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers and ensure patients and families have access to current treatment and information. “After reading his touching words, I called Frankie to let him know I would work hard to get it passed,” Fossella said. “The day I called Frankie he was sleeping and too weak to speak, but I had a wonderful conversation with his loving and wonderful mother Camille,” the congressman said. During that phone call, just weeks before Frankie’s death, Fossella pledged to the Loccisano family that he would fight for the bill’s passage. Despite strong bipartisan support—including 206 House sponsors and 52 in the Senate—the bill has not moved out of House subcommittee. It also still needs a floor vote in the Senate. “Congress cannot delay for even one more day a vote on this important legislation,” Fossella stated. In an attempt to expedite the congressional process, Fossella said he would be sending a letter this week to the Chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking for an “immediate” vote on the legislation. “As we speak, there are young people in hospitals across the city and across the county who are confronted with the same illness as Frankie had,” Fossella said. “I think it’s our fundamental responsibility to do what we can to take Frankie’s passion and advocacy to the next level and win this battle once and for all.” Cancer kills more children between 1 and 20 than any other disease, including asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined. Every year over 12,500 young people are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Because of advancements in science and medicine, about 75 percent of children with cancer can now be cured.

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