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Lustgarten, Salon Owner Team Together for Pancreatic Cancer PSAs

Hicksville’s Antonio Vozzolo

Featured in Spot to Raise Awareness

Starting Nov. 1, the Lustgarten Foundation and local salon owner Antonio Vozzolo, along with several others from Long Island and the tri-state area, will launch a public service announcement campaign to help spread awareness regarding the devastating disease.

According to Kerri Kaplan, executive director for the Lustgarten Foundation, the organization is based out of Bethpage and is the largest private funder of pancreatic research, as 100 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to support researching pancreatic cancer.

“In 1998 Marc Lustgarten, who was Cablevision’s former vice chairman, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and at the time, very little was known about this disease.

“So to change that fact, Cablevision and the Dolans, along with Marc Lustgarten, established the Lustgarten Foundation in his honor,” said Kaplan.

Cablevision has always worked closely with the Foundation to support the mission of educating and supporting research, Kaplan added, and the media and entertainment company recently launched a public awareness called “curePC” to help spread the word.

As November is pancreatic cancer awareness month, the curePC campaign will begin featuring television, online, radio and print ads as part of a new series called, Why We Fight.

“All of these residents were all personally impacted by pancreatic cancer. We’ve brought them together and their message to people is to urge to join them in the fight,” said Kaplan.

One of those residents is Anthony Vozzolo, the owner of Kimera Hair Salon in Hicksville. Vozzolo, whose grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1999, said that the diagnosis was more like a “death warrant.”

“She was diagnosed in February of 1999, and at the time we hadn’t even heard much about PC until she was diagnosed with it, we knew from speaking with doctors that the prognosis generally wasn’t good,” he said.

“She fought for quite a while. She went through radiation and some chemo, but she eventually succumbed to it in October of the same year,” Vozzolo added.

Growing up near his grandmother and seeing her regularly, Vozzolo noted the transformation after the diagnosis was immediately evident. 

“Just to kind of see her, she was so vital, there was no stopping her: to the store, to the church, to cooking, to baking. I mean Italian grandmothers like to feed people, particularly their grandkids.

“To see her not to able to stand at the kitchen anymore, and really just kind of wither, I’m sure it’s happened to a lot of people ... but to watch her just wither away like that was just really painful,” Vozzolo said.

Shortly after her passing, Vozzolo heard about the Lustgarten Foundation from a public service announcement featuring former President Jimmy Carter, who had lost family members to the disease.

“I sent a little contribution to the Lustgarten Foundation and I guess they put me on their mailing list and I found out about their first walk in 2001,” he said, adding, “I thought it’s something we could all do together, not just my family, but we got the staff at the salon involved as well.”

Vozzolo explained that the work the Lustgarten Foundation has done over the years has “definitely increased awareness” and that Hicksville residents can do their part to help pass the message along.

“What we can do as residents and regular everyday people is basically to participate in the various fundraising or awareness efforts that the Lustgarten Foundation sponsors,” said Vozzolo, who is currently residing in Commack.

Vozzolo’s public service announcement and many more are available at the www.curePC.org, a site Kaplan called “a great resource for questions about pancreatic cancer”

“Everyone in the series has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer. They have a message: pancreatic cancer can impact anyone. It could be anyone of your neighbors right here on Long Island.”

While many have lost a family member or friend to the disease, Kaplan said the future might hold a cure.

“Even though it’s such a devastating disease, there is a hope, and the hope is research. Over time it’s been proven that if you can invest significant funding into research for cancer and other devastating diseases, that’s the hope that’s the way you cure it,” said Kaplan.