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It is one of those sayings you hear often, but not until you experience it firsthand does the full meaning truly sink in - "Life can change in an instant."
Sharon Mottola grew up in West Orange. When it came time for college she stayed close to home, attending Seton Hall and graduating with her bachelors in nursing in 1996. Pursuing a career in the medical field, it's fair to say she always had a caring heart - but it wasn't until she became a patient herself that she realized the need to make volunteering and service an integral part of her life.
Mottola had always had dull headaches, with a few migraines over the years, but nothing that seemed abnormal. It was when she started experiencing constant déjà vu that she knew something was wrong. She visited her doctor (who also happened to be her colleague of seven years) and was sent for a CT Scan.
Life can change in an instant.
In Mottola's case, it was fifteen minutes - the fifteen minutes after the scan, when she was told she had a brain tumor. In that short time, her doctor had already scheduled an MRI and an appointment with a neurosurgeon for the next day. She cried numb, shocked tears. She was scheduled for brain surgery within the week. "It was a very scary time, but because of the exigent nature of the surgery, I didn't have a lot of time to worry since I had to put life in order," says Mottola. "[My husband] and I hadn't even thought about a will, but that had to be done. Family needed to book flights to come and stay with us. The swiftness almost made it easier than if I had weeks or months to plan and worry."
This life-changing event was the springboard that launched Mottola into volunteering. "While home recovering, I scanned the internet for information and resources to turn to. The National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) was one of them." Having moved from New Jersey to North Carolina, she attended the first meeting of the Charlotte area team and felt instantly connected to the organization and the members. "During the presentation, I cried because it brought back so many feelings of hopelessness and dread and being just plain scared! Those ladies that night made me feel so welcomed and it was then that I said to myself - I am ok. But I need to help those that aren't and find out why this happened to me. I never received that [last] answer." NBTS may not have given Mottola answers to all her questions, but it certainly gave her the courage and inspiration she needed to use her experience to help others. She has been an extremely active member of NBTS since her recovery, and is the co-chair of this year's Charlotte Brain Tumor Race being held on October 10 at Marshall Park.
Mottola believes her dedication to service, although catalyzed by her diagnosis, finds its roots in her education at Seton Hall. "Seton Hall instills from the very first day of orientation that it is so important to give back to the community and to help those that are less fortunate." True empathy and compassion cannot be taught in a classroom - it can only be learned through firsthand experiences. "Students should participate in some sort of service as it relates to their course of education. This provides a different perspective and allows the student to engage."
While Seton Hall hopes to make a sustainable impact on its students during their days here, it also places emphasis on volunteering at all stages of life and hosts service events that encourage participation from all members of its community - students, faculty, staff and alumni. This year's "Seton Hall Day of Service" does just that. On October 24, in conjunction with the student initiative "Service on Saturdays," Pirates across the country will be volunteering in their local communities in a variety of ways. If you're interested in volunteering and would like more information, contact Terranze Griffin, associate director for regional alumni engagement.
Written by Taryn Nie
Imagine being a woman and at the height of health. Regular exercise through running and with a trainer – check! Eat right – check! Brain cancer…(insert sound of screeching breaks!)
That’s what happened to Angela Lane. Angela lives in the Denver area and works in Huntersville with her business as a CPA. Early in September 2015, she started noticing issues seeing the numbers with which she was working. Numbers would “disappear” off the end. Then the migraines started. At the insistence of friends and family, she finally went to the doctor.
A CT scan and MRI both showed a “spot” but couldn’t tell exactly what was there. Since the spot was near the optic nerve and Angela’s vision was being affected, she was referred to a neurosurgeon to take a look.
The plan with the surgery was to go in and investigate further this “thing” affecting the quality of life for this mother of two. The surgeon explained that depending on what he found would determine the length of the surgery. On the morning of the surgery, with high hopes of a quick procedure, Angela unknowingly underwent the longest day of her life. “When I opened my eyes and it was dark outside, I knew the news was bad.”
Angela Lane, a picture of health, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. Her tumor sits on her optic nerve. Part of it was removed, but the rest remains. Angela went to Duke University and is now wearing an Op-tune cap. That, along with the chemo and radiation, are keeping the tumor from growing. And if GBM wasn’t enough, in August 2016, Angela was diagnosed to be in the early stages of breast cancer. Yeah…
And still she smiles. She might cry sometimes, but she is a fighter. She is optimistic. The breast cancer is gone. There is a plan in place for what’s next with Duke. She goes to work most days. She has fun with friends. She sometimes reluctantly lets her daughter help her find things in her closet. She is a mom, a friend, a neighbor. Most importantly, through all of this, she is fighting the good fight!
Join us in supporting Angela and those facing diagnoses of brain tumors and brain cancer. The money we raise through FTGF goes back to our neighbors and friends, like Angela. Spread the word!