WEST ORANGE, NJ — A halftime ceremony held during West Orange High School’s (WOHS) home football game against Bloomfield on Friday night recognized Kelly Elementary School Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara as a breast cancer survivor and Bloomfield Athletic Director Steve Jenkins for his efforts to coordinate the annual "Cheer for a Cure" event.
During the event, the West Orange PAL Cheerleaders joined the Mountaineers for special routines in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, and the award-winning WOHS Marching Band also performed.
As she described her journey, Dr. Pollara explained that when she led a Relay for Life team from Pleasantdale (now Kelly Elementary) at West Orange High School in 2014, she intended to walk in memory of her father and in thanksgiving for her daughter, who had survived Stage Four lymphoma. The day before the relay, doctor “gave [her] the devastating news that [she] was to begin [her] own cancer journey."
"Throughout the summer and the following fall, there was surgery and treatments for breast cancer,” she said. “I had to learn to ask for help, listen to my body and find my faith. I learned that some days I was stronger than I thought possible, and other days I was vulnerable and had difficulty finding my way. I learned that courage doesn’t mean that you are not afraid; it means being afraid and doing what you need to do anyway.
“Cancer has given me a greater appreciation for the people in my life, including my West Orange school family. They continue to walk beside me as my treatment continues, although less frequently now. They inspire me to be my best self and to keep hope in my heart. I cherish every day I have survived and thrived.”
The football team, which also donned pink honor of the event, ultimately came back from two back-to-back losses to take the win over Bloomfield, 39-0. The Mountaineers are now 4-1 in league play and 5-3 overall. They will take on Barringer in a home game on Nov. 1 beginning at 7 p.m.