Hope in the Darkest Hour

Cancer is indiscriminate but when you hear of a diagnosis in a child, it seems shocking. Kids are assumed to get normal childhood illnesses like ear infections and tonsillitis. There will never be anything normal about an innocent child with a diagnosis of cancer.

Unfortunately the reality is that it can happen to anyone’s child. I know firsthand. I was a parent who got that phone call. Explaining a brain tumor to an otherwise healthy fifteen year old son was heart wrenching.  Next, finding the treatment that was right for him became an all consuming mission.

Thinking back to our first visit to the Hassenfeld Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center for children with brain and spinal cord tumors, I remember feeling very traumatized just knowing that we belonged in that waiting room. We were in a new club, one I had never dreamed we would join.

Sign Up for E-News

While waiting for our consultation, we had the opportunity to observe. Cheery staff members were engaged in crafts and games with their equal cheery patients and otherwise cleverly distracting the real purpose for the visit. There was a clown with a comedy routine, passionately intend on creating smiles and laughter where they were none. Then, to top that, complimentary massages were being offered to the parents and patients. To tell the truth, it was like no doctor’s office that we had ever been in and we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. It must have been our “deer in the headlight’s look” because we were soon approached by one of the ringleaders of all the fun, a grandmotherly woman wearing a long apron, reminiscent upon first glance of “Heidi,” my childhood fictional heroine.

It was our first time meeting Maya Manley and we remember distinctly feeling as if we had met an angel.  Now, five years later, I can validate that with certainty having come to know the work she has done on behalf of so many families. Maya was able to understand our situation so compassionately because years ago she was another parent who just like us was told her child had a brain tumor. She gave us hope in our darkest hour.

Our whole perception of life became altered in so many ways. Our heroes became not only the children who bravely face such battles but the neurosurgeons and neuro-oncologists who treat them and people like Maya who are on a relentless crusade to improve the treatment of children with cancer.

Seventeen years ago, Maya Manley and her husband, Edward, started a nonprofit foundation called Making Headway (www.makingheadway.org).  MH’s mission is the care, comfort and cure for families of children diagnosed with brain and spinal cord tumors. They primarily serve families in the New Jersey, New York and surrounding areas and are based out of Chappaqua, NY. Their work has proved revolutionary in so many ways. They have chosen to focus on the entire family of a young patient, knowing when a child is diagnosed, everyone in the family suffers. Making Headway funding provides the massage and Reiki therapist and the clown that were immediately obvious to us on our visit to the clinic. They also fund, free-of-charge to referred patients, the services of four psychologists, three educational consultants, and one psychiatrist, a child life specialist, a rehabilitation technician, a yoga instructor, an athletic wellness coordinator and a music therapist.  Behind the scenes, they fund the impressive work of the new neuro-oncology laboratory at NYU Langone Medical Center and the endowed professorship of the highly regarded Dr. Jeffrey C. Allen, Professor in Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at NYU.

Just as Making Headway has forged new roads in treating entire families of pediatric brain tumor patients, NYU is leading the nation’s medical research under Dr. Allen’s guidance.  He has recently acquired a machine, an Ilumina iScan, that supports rapid and sensitive array based genetic analysis. Through this machine, tumors can be determined at a molecular level and doctors can better predict a patient’s prognosis and treatment.  According to Dr. Allen, “No other center in the United States currently uses this technology to classify brain tumors and NYU is leading this ground-breaking effort in collaboration with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg.”

To help with fundraising efforts, the Manleys prefer the old-fashioned route. All their friends get a personal phone call and a heartfelt appeal. Maya is very hard to resist. Even fellow Chappaqua resident, President Bill Clinton, is not immune to her charms. Hearing an appeal to contribute in a blog is not exactly the same personal touch but I am forever grateful to all those who are compelled to contribute…not just for my son, but for all the children who deserve to know that we are all…indiscriminate of race, gender, or age, just like cancer… doing what we can to help. www.makingheadway.org   Thank you.Hope in the Darkest Hour


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Two Injured in Car Versus Motorcycle Accident

July 16, 2018

SPARTA, NJ — An accident on Route 15 with a motorcycle and a car sent two people to the hospital. On July 12 Sparta police responded to the crash at the intersection of Route 15 and Wilson Drive around 6:37 p.m. police report.

According to police, while turning left on to Wilson Drive from Route 15 north, Carmen Emery of Highland Lakes cut in front of Richard Keim on a Harley-Davidson ...

Sparta Fire Trucks Have Adequate Access through New LMCC Gates

SPARTA, NJ — Emergency equipment can access the newly refurbished Sparta gate on West Shore Trail in the Lake Mohawk reservation, according to the Lake Mohawk Country Club Manager John Stanley. At the June 11 Sparta Township meeting, councilman Jerry Murphy raised a concern about the new gate not being sufficiently wide to allow a fire truck to pass through. 

In response to an ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Elizabeth Man Gets DWI

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Elizabeth was stopped for crossing the line on Tomahawk Trail.  Sparta Police Officer Jonathan Poon stopped Eduardo Idiaquez, 45, on July 8, around 7:30 p.m. police said.

He was taken to Sparta Police Department headquarters for processing and breath testing.  Idiaquez was charged with driving while intoxicated, failure to maintain a lane, driving while ...

No Dog Beach on Lake Hopatcong?

July 9, 2018

Hello Editor, 
 I have spent considerable time trying to find somewhere on Lake Hopatcong to bring my dog for a swim.
What I have found is ridiculous - this lake has approximately 28 miles of shoreline and I found NO PLACE am allowed to bring him.  Am hoping you can make the public aware and maybe someone will know more than me and inform where dogs are allowed?
Many thanks for ...

Chemist Congratulates Sparta High School Chem Olympians

Congratulation to the ladies from Sparta High School who finished first and second in the Chemistry Olympics.

I am very pleased to see women succeeding in chemistry.

Martin Feil,

Newton, NJ
Retired Chemist and Chemistry Teacher

Upcoming Events

Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Education Giving Back Law & Justice


Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Paterson Board of Education , Paterson

Teacher Job Fair



Sat, July 21, 7:45 AM

Saint Kateri Parish, Sparta

Sussex County Blood Drive

Health & Wellness


Sat, July 21, 8:00 AM

Newton Moose Lodge, Fredon

Newton Moose Lodge Sunday Breakfasts

Food & Drink


Sat, July 21, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sun, July 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, July 23, 10:00 AM

Sparta Public Library, Sparta

Watercolor Workshop

Arts & Entertainment


Fri, July 27, 10:00 AM

Sparta Public Library, Sparta

Watercolor Workshop

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, July 28, 8:00 AM

Newton Moose Lodge, Fredon

Newton Moose Lodge Sunday Breakfasts

Food & Drink


Sat, July 28, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Newton High School FFA Students Dominate at State Convention

July 11, 2018

LONG BRANCH, NJ - The Newton FFA Chapter won several of their events at the 89th New Jersey State FFA Convention in May at Monmouth University. The students brought home several awards competing against the best in the state.

Freshman Kirk Avondoglio took first place in the state FFA Creed Public Speaking competition.  The event requires participants to recite the creed in front of a ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 13, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

4 Top Tips for Kitchen Remodels

Getting ready to remodel your New Jersey home's kitchen? Team Nest Builder shares these top 4 tips for maintaining your sanity (and budget)!

Expect the Unexpected

Even the best-laid plans go awry during a kitchen remodel--be prepared!  Add a 10% cushion to your finanical plan for problems that may arise. In case something happens, this could save your time and budget.

Make A ...

Get Out and Garden During FREE Open Gates Weekend

Team Nest Builder wants you to discover the beauty and diversity of Morris County’s Community Gardens through the people, plants, and planting techniques that make gardens thrive. It's Morris County Community Garden FREE Open Gates Weekend!

Tour the many gardens, discover how to start one in your town, and learn more about growing your own food. Enjoy food tastings and demonstrations ...

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000

Concerned that your family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – your own home? Let Team Nest Builder assuage your fears...

It’s not just a home’s price that determines its affordability--it’s also the monthly cost determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest ...

Don't Miss Out on this DOUBLE Sparta 4BR OPEN HOUSE Weekend

Team Nest Builder offers not one, but TWO enchanting homes this weekend---185 Milton Road on Saturday, and 28 Waters Edge on Sunday (1-3pm both days.)  Seeking the perfect Sparta home? Make plans today! Want to learn more? Read on!

185 Milton Road: A Stately Sparta 4BR 2.5 Bath on 6+ Beautiful Acres

You’ll fall in love with this gorgeous 4BR, 2.5 Bathroom ...

Be a Triathlon Volunteer!

Summertime is here and upon us Sparta residents, bringing a variety of exciting events to our area. Well, Pass It Along is BACK with the 9th Annual Triathlon at Lake Mohawk Country Club, located in Sparta, on Saturday, July 28, 2018!

This athletic event draws in several hundred people, both participants and spectators, to Lake Mohawk. Volunteers are needed to assist with the event in ...

It's Time to Swim, Bike and Run with Pass It Along!




“If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race it’s up to you.”  – Dave Scott (Triathlete)

Join us on Saturday, July 28 at 7:00 am at the Lake Mohawk Country Club for the 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon! ...

The Sussex County Freeholders July 11 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Freeholders July 11 meeting video


Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Encourages Family Fun with Online Fishing Tournament

July 16, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ — The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is asking families to cast their lines and reel in some quality time this summer as part of the fourth annual Don’t Get Hooked on Drugs Online NJ Family Fishing Tournament.

The competition will be held from July 27 to August 5 as a way to encourage families to enjoy a day of fishing, while giving ...