I see life through a different lens now. Everyday I wake up I thank God I am breathing. I don't take things for granted and I am much more grateful for the small things/moments in life. I give back to others now since so many people helped me and my family when I was sick.
In September 2011 Victoria was working at a local hardware store during college in Aston, PA. She got into work that morning and was feeling extremely nauseous and dizzy. Later in the day she had an excruciating pain in the back of her head that was described as a “samurai sword digging in and out continuously.” Sent home from work she began throwing up every hour on the hour accompanied with the horrible pain in the back of her head throughout the night; that was a definite sign that something was wrong.
The next day she went to her family physician, barely able to walk, and was directly sent to Riddle Memorial Hospital. Once arrived the team did a CATSCAN where they found a mass in the back of her head. She was then airlifted to Jefferson University Hospital where she had a 12-hour brain surgery. After the removal of the mass (which was a malignant tumor), her and her family were told that Victoria was diagnosed with Stage IV Medulloblastoma Brain Cancer and would need to start treatment immediately.
Suffering for almost two years, as well as finding out that the cancer fell into her spine, her treatments and surgeries consisted of intense Radiation, Chemotherapy, Proton Therapy Radiation, Shunt placement surgery, ovary surgery, blood transfusions, breathing treatments, a spinal tap/lumbar puncture procedure and later a shunt removal surgery. She received these treatments at Jefferson University Hospital, University of Pennsylvania (Penn Medicine), and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Victoria was told from several of her doctors that they do not recommend going back to college so soon for it would be too much to handle. Victoria was previously enrolled at Temple University, Fox School of Business and was forced to receive a medical withdraw from the University. If you know Victoria, you know how strong willed she is. Defying the odds at age 22, she transferred to Penn State Brandywine. She started out taking only 1-2 classes a semester. Back and forth from the hospital to classes wasn’t easy but the professors and students had helped Victoria feel more like herself again and that was incredibly rewarding for her.
About a year later, with hard work, a positive mindset, and strong support from her family and friends, she pushed herself to a regular college semester schedule. Graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Penn State was one of the best days of her life. ONE of...In September 2016, after a routine checkup, her Oncologist at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) gave her the most amazing news of all; that she was officially a brain and spinal cancer survivor (5 years in remission at the time).
Today she is in remission but has a lot of long-term treatment affects that she deals with on a daily basis. Her and her family are beyond grateful for this blessing.
The Victoria Rose Fund (VRF) originated in 2012 by Victoria’s brother Mike. Now President, Victoria was 21 years old when she was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (a childhood tumor) Brain Cancer. In 2012 her brother had a great idea to put a walk together at a local park for his sisters’ medical bills.
It was very successful and helped their family so much. Victoria and her family were so overwhelmed by the love and support that they received over the years from their community- including family, friends, and complete strangers. With the wonderful blessings that they received, they decided it was their time to give back.
As Victoria started to feel better, she eventually took over as the President of The Victoria Rose Fund (VRF) nonprofit. She wanted to fulfill a promise she had given to herself while praying to God at an overnight at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She promised herself if she was able to become in remission and able to function, she would strive to help other local families and individuals that went through similar cancer journeys as she and her family did.
With Victoria’s favorite concept of “paying it forward,” they came up with the idea of honoring another individual that is going through a similar situation that the Marotta family had been through. They knew that by giving hope, support, and some financial relief to these families that they could potentially change their lives. Their major annual fundraising event happens every Fall. They put together an event at a local restaurant, Aston Barnaby’s of America. All proceeds go directly to the local family/individual that is suffering emotionally, physically, and financially from this disease.
Their most recent event, the 10th Annual VRF Benefit was for a young brave 7-year-old girl, Riley, who was battling high-risk B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Victoria describes that "there is nothing like seeing a smile on a mother's (or loved ones) face when giving the benefit proceeds them. It truly makes my life to see them happy even if it’s for the moment."
At a previous annual benefit, she remembers a family member of the honoree coming up to her and saying: “My family and I appreciate all that your organization has done for raising funds for our family but I want to let you know it's not just about the money it’s the support, the light, just the whole vibe from all the people in this room; it truly lifted our spirits to get through this difficult time, thank you." Victoria describes that moment as 'indescribable' and truly makes her feel whole. She (with the help of her team, friends, family, and the entire VRF community) can give back and "pay it forward" like she promised herself years ago in a hospital bed at CHOP.
After a 3-year hiatus, due to the Covid crisis, they are looking forward to organizing their 11th Annual Benefit in the Fall of 2023.
Cancer made me realize that I needed to not take any day for granted to appreciate the little things in life - not just look forward to big moments.