Penn. Firefighters Support Local Cancer Patient
Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
July 23—Dana Scatton thought she was going for lunch.
Instead, she got love.
The 18-year-old mother, who has been battling brain cancer since December, got a surprise visit from Pink Heals Inc., a national program that partners with public safety groups, local businesses and families to show individuals that they are loved.
As Scatton sat at a picnic table under a pavilion holding her 6-month-old daughter, Aries, she heard sirens. Before she knew it, there was a pink ambulance in front of the pavilion. Behind it, there were fire trucks—which wrapped around the perimeter of Hazle Twp. Community Park. Firefighters from throughout the Hazleton area—at least a half-dozen companies—were walking across the park and formed a line to give Dana a hug.
"Thanks for telling me, guys," Dana said, as she was surrounded by her family, which includes eight siblings.
Leading the line was Susan Sottilare, a member of the Lehigh Valley Pink Heals organization, along with Lehigh Valley chapter members John Sottilare, Susan's husband, and Laurene Fleming and Will Glasser—all wearing pink fire helmets with pink name labels and pink firefighter turnout, or bunker, gear.
"We'd thought we'd come here and share some love and support," Susan Sottilare said.
Scatton was presented with a pink boa around her neck and a pink bear to remember Pink Heals.
Susan Sottilare explained what Pink Heals is all about
"We are a local chapter of a national organization," she said."We go around and show love and support to anybody who has gone through treatment, is going through treatment, is in remission, or unfortunately for a loved one who has passed. We ask them to sign our rolling memorial."
The Lehigh Valley chapter has a pink ambulance named Mae "after our longest member passed away at the age of 98 from breast cancer," Susan Sottilare said. Scatton signed the ambulance in a vacant spot above the right rear fender. They also have a pink fire truck that didn't make the trip Sunday.
Cheri Homa, the aunt of Scatton's brother-in-law, Frank Fallabel, saw Pink Heals when they made a visit to the area and called them.
"We reached out to them, and they were so wonderful and coordinated," Homa said.
Andy Mhley, a firefighter in Hazleton, and his girfriend, Dianna Barna, were on a Pink Heals national tour when they visited about a half-dozen people in the Hazleton area last year. They coordinated all of the fire companies coming to the event Sunday.
"Cheri got a hold of me, and I got a hold of the closest chapter, Lehigh Valley, and got the ball rolling," Mhley said. "I started reaching out, and you reach out to one (fire company) and they spread the word through the community. It's a very touching situation. I don't know what else you could say."
Leann Fallabel, Scatton's older sister, was also touched by the visit.
"When I saw the line of the firemen that came to give her a hug and all the family that came, it was just overwhelming," Fallabel said. "It was so nice of them to take time out of their day and come and support my sister. I'm proud of her. She's a fighter. It isn't easy. But she is a warrior. She is unbelievable. She amazes all of us. This is just a reminder we are here to support her."
Scatton's father, Robert, was also thankful.
"I am thankful to everyone for their prayers," he said. "She's a fighter."
Dana Scatton's mother, Lenore, said the outpouring of affection has stretched across the Atlantic Ocean.
"We have received gifts from England and France," Lenore said. "We have had prayers from all over the world. People have been sending her messages and saying that they are praying for us. Continue the prayers. We are praying for a miracle. I'm trying to believe that miracle is going to happen."
Fallabel told the story of how the family got Dana Scatton to Community Park.
"I told her we were going for lunch," Fallabel said. "Then I told her there was going to be a picnic here and to come for lunch here. I don't know what she thought when she got here. There wasn't much of a picnic, wasn't much in the way of refreshments, but she just seemed kinda happy to see everybody. Then she said why is the media here? I said there must be something going on somewhere. I don't know."
Scatton said she had never heard of Pink Heals.
"I didn't even know it was for me. I thought maybe it was a parade," Scatton said. "I'm so blessed everyone has been praying for us. It is so appreciated. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Prayer moves mountains."
A prayer service was held for Scatton earlier this year.
In December, 2017, Scatton developed symptoms and was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas, a highly aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumor found at the base of the brain for which she has been getting treatment in Monterrey, Mexico. DIPG is rare, striking annually about 300 children, who are generally between ages 5 and 10.
Fallabel said fundraising events, including the The Dash for Dana, a 5-kilometer run, was held in January, and Dance for Dana was held in February. Those fundraisers have paid for her treatments to date, but more funds have to be raised for her continuing treatment in Mexico, Fallabel said.
There is a "Pray for Dana" Facebook page, www.facebook.com/prayfordana.