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Democrat Photo by John Emerson

IN NEED: Mother and son, Carrie and Chase Molinari, share a moment outside their Roscoe home.

Molinaris Finding Neighbors
Are the Giving Type

By John Emerson
ROSCOE — July 7, 2000 -- At first glance, no one could tell there was anything wrong with 15-month-old Chase Molinari if they didn’t notice the cast on his right leg.
He is as active as any rugrat of the same age. He squirms and whines in his mother’s arms when he wants to get down. He crawls around the floor, exploring and pointing to things he wants.
He desperately wants to stand on his own two feet, pulling himself up at the living room coffee table. Just a normal, soon-to-be toddler, who’s trying to grow up the way kids usually grow up.
But at this point in his life, Chase is anything but a normally developing kid.
The cast on his leg is not really there to mend a broken leg. The cast is there to keep his thighbone – the femur, weakened by a cancerous tumor that doctors call Ewing’s Sarcoma – from breaking again.
While Ewing’s Sarcoma is in itself a rare form of cancer, it is even more rare that it is found in a child as young as Chase.
“Only about three percent of all cancer is pediatric cancer,” explained Chase’s father, Keith Molinari, a deputy in the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department. “Of that three percent, only three percent is Ewing’s Sarcoma, and only about three percent of that is found in children less than 10 years old. I’ve started calling myself a ‘three-percenter’.”
The cancer was diagnosed after Chase was treated for a broken femur on May 9. Using the three-percent probability, doctors told Molinari and his wife, Carrie, they shouldn’t worry too much, but they performed a biopsy just to be sure. They found the malignancy but were not certain of the form of cancer. A second biopsy confirmed the disease on May 30.
“We cried rivers in the beginning,” Molinari said. “But to sit and cry is not going to do us a darn bit of good. We’re dealing with it day to day and focusing on the positive.”
“Our life has been put on hold until he gets better,” said Carrie. “Him being such a trooper about this has helped us get through it.”
At this point, Chase’s cancer is localized within the bone itself and has not spread to surrounding tissues – a good sign that treatment will be successful. The treatment, in addition to chemotherapy to combat the likelihood that the cancer will spread, will require extensive surgery on the femur, which is now riddled with the cancer.
At this point, there are several options regarding the surgery, and the Molinaris are discussing with their doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York which course of treatment to follow. One of the problems they face is that, because Chase is so young, some of the standard treatments available to older children are not available to him.
One of the more likely possibilities is that Chase’s leg will require amputation. Molinari said if that’s the case, the tibia, a bone from the lower leg, will be substituted for the femur and a prosthetic limb would be fashioned from there. He said that the surgery, whatever it is, would have to take place no later than September 18.
Once the surgery is completed, the chemotherapy treatments will continue for almost a year. After that will come regular visits to the hospital for continuing tests and monitoring.
“I know he’s going to beat this and is bound for something great,” Keith Molinari said, again looking at the positives in the situation. “For all I know, he may be the first one-legged pitcher for the New York Yankees. I know he’s going to do something that’s great after going through what’s he going through now so early in his life.”
Another positive that has struck Keith and Carrie is the support they have received from their friends and neighbors in Roscoe, as well as the concern from people throughout Sullivan County and beyond. Get well cards and letters of support hang from a doorway leading from the living room to the dining room in the family’s Roscoe home.
The community has gathered around the Molinaris, holding bake sales and other fundraising events that help with the expenses of travelling and staying in New York City for the extended chemotherapy treatment sessions that take place every two-and-a-half weeks. Household chores, like cutting the lawn and cooking dinner, have also been taken over by neighbors and others.
Such activities have freed the Molinaris to spend time with their two other children: 12-year-old Heather and six-year-old Samantha.
“When the day-to-day issues are taken care of for you, it frees your time to do other things,” Keith Molinari said. “Our support network has been just phenomenal. I just want to thank the whole community of Roscoe – and not even just that. The support is coming from everywhere.”
Later this month, on Sunday, July 30, the Sullivan County Policeman’s Benevolent Association and Mr. Willy’s have arranged a chicken barbecue at Fibber’s Restaurant at the Concord’s Monster golf course as a fundraiser. The entire proceeds from the event will go to the family for expenses relating to Chase’s illness.
“I’ve never even met [Mr. Willy’s owner and Fibber’s manager] Bill Sipos, and he’s doing all of this,” Keith said. “There’s a whole lot of people who are worse off than we are, so we just focus on the positives.”

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