East Islip Middle School student Heather McNamara, known for her bravery in the face of life-threatening cancer as well as her numerous fundraising endeavors, was recognized by the Town of Islip on Aug. 28. There to present the sixth-grader with a citation were Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, Town Board members Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, John Cochrane Jr., Steven J. Flotteron and Anthony Senft Jr.; and Town Clerk Olga H. Murray.
Back in 2009, the Islip Terrace resident (then a student at at Connetquot Elementary School) underwent a 23-hour surgical procedure to remove a golf-ball-sized cancerous tumor wrapped around her pancreas. Dr. Tomoaki Kato and his team at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center were willing to attempt the risky procedure, which involved removed not only her pancreas but her stomach, spleen, liver, small intestines and large intestines. Many of these organs could not be reattached due to damage from the cancer. Heather’s subsequent television commercial
for New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center made her familiar to many Long Islanders.
Since the surgery, Heather developed juvenile diabetes, a result of losing her pancreas. She has battled the condition with the same determination with which she fought against cancer.
Heather and her parents, Tina and Joseph McNamara, have continued to raise awareness and money for the benefit of sick children. Their latest fundraiser, the Craving 4 a Cure event for juvenile diabetes, took place on Aug. 19 at Mary's Pizza & Pasta in Islip Terrace.