Samantha Salerno was born a SuperSib.
She was born just a couple weeks after her brother, Tony, was diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma.
“We came back home from Tony’s first hospital stay on a Monday and I delivered Samantha on that Friday,” recalls Karen, Samantha’s mom.
Samantha has never known anything else.
For siblings of children with cancer, the world can often be a lonely, confusing place. They are left behind at home for long periods of time and sometimes cannot visit their sibling in the hospital because of medical precautions. Ensuring these siblings feel supported is the main goal of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s SuperSibs program. It recognizes these kids and ensure they can face the future with strength, courage and hope; three traits that certainly relate to Samantha.
For Samantha’s family, Tony’s battle with cancer has lasted 14 years. When Tony has been hospitalized, including an eight month stint several years ago battling a secondary cancer, Samantha would spend the nights with her grandparents.
The family has not tallied up how many nights — but they think Samantha has spent close to a cumulative year with her grandparents. Despite this time apart, Samantha has been a huge part of keeping her family close. She is always there working to stay positive, share a laugh, and welcome her brother home from the hospital.
Samantha loves to read, write and draw. She has found community through her family’s volunteerism with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Between attending events, hosting an annual scrapbooking fundraising with her mom and sharing her story, Samantha says that being with other siblings who’ve supported their brother or sister through cancer treatment has been some of the bright points through this entire journey.
“Being part of Alex’s is a great way to meet other families that you can learn from and relate to. There are also a lot of great events and experiences that the charity offers,” says Samantha.
But her closest bond remains with her brother Tony.
“Tony is constantly optimistic and cheerful. He gets along with others well and always tries to help,” says Samantha.
Tony says his sister has never acted angry or jealous over all the time spent away from regular family life.
“My sister always has my back and would do anything for me. She is funny, smart and has great taste in older brothers,” said Tony.