A young cancer patient's story inspires a place to help others

Aug 28, 2015

There’s a special room now open to cancer patients at the Erie County Medical Center. It offers hope and care to young adults dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis.

Soft earth tones, warm lights, and a tranquil Asian theme adorn the Anthony V. Mannino Comfort Room in ECMC’s Jonah Center for Oncology and Hematology. Mannino was a 21 year old who lost his battle with esophageal cancer in 2009.

Cindy and Tony Mannino (right) and Joseph Farrauto (left) admire the Anthony V. Mannino Comfort Room at ECMC
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

After seeing the room for the first time, his mother Cindy Mannino seemed pleasantly taken aback.

“I’m amazed at how they captured the spirit of Anthony and how I know it’s going to help other young adults who need that respite while they’re going through the treatment. It’s beautiful,” said Cindy Mannino.

Shortly after Anthony’s death, Cindy Mannino and Anthony’s father, Tony Mannino, established a foundation to help young adults find support financially and emotionally as they deal with cancer. It’s something they said Anthony didn’t have during his battle.

A plaque adorns the wall outside the Anthony V. Mannino Comfort Room
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

“There’s a very age-specific group often times called ‘betweeners’ – between 18 and around 30. And going through that 22 month treatment with him made us realize there are quite a number of age specific gaps, one of them being the need for a room like that. The need for their own space to address those specific issues,” said Cindy Mannino.

ECMC Chief Executive Officer Richard Cleland said there is a significant need in our community to understand patients of the 18 to 29 age group as they deal with cancer.

“The emotional and psychological support of those individuals, having to really not only go through treatment, but to handle the fact that that is reality. And I think that those services weren’t accessible for the Manninos, and our commitment to them and their foundation, and also Western New York is to ensure that no one goes without those services,” said Cleland.

(From Left) Tony Mannino, Cindy Mannino, and ECMC CEO Richard Cleland cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Anthony V. Mannino Comfort Room
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Cleland said the room is a quiet place where patients can reflect and relax, discuss treatments with their doctors, and visit with family members. He said it is a first step in developing a pathway to support services for young adults.

Director of Medical Oncology, Dr. Mohamed Amhed, said the room is an important addition to the department and a reminder that cancer can strike at any age group.

On a wall in the comfort room, the words “Compassion,” “Hope,” and “Courage” are painted.

“It really pretty much sums up Anthony’s battle of 22 months,” explained Tony Mannino. “He displayed all of those traits to us, and sometimes even to our surprise.”

Compassion, Hope, and Courage are painted on the wall of the Comfort Room as inspiration to those who will use it.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Tony Mannino said when a young adult is faced with a terminal diagnosis, it can be all too consuming. He said Anthony didn’t let it take over his final months. Now the Mannino’s hope the room named in their son’s honor will help others face cancer in the same way.

More informational about Anthony Mannino and references for young adults battling cancer or facing a recent diagnosis is available at the Anthony V. Mannino Foundation website.