Anjali Minocha of Jersey City
Anjali Minocha of Jersey City

“Keep the change.” That short phrase, which often makes one feel generous and easy going, can do even more good this month, say the Minochas of Jersey City. From now through April 30, customers in the tri-state area can “round up” their purchases—or donate $1, $3 or $5 at checkout—to benefit MSK Kids, the pediatric program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, when they visit Stop & Shop, including the location at 232 Central Ave. in Jersey City.

The Minochas should know. Their three-year-old daughter, Anjali, is serving as this year’s ambassador for the annual campaign. Anjali is now cancer-free thanks to treatment she received last year for neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system, at  MSK Kids in New York City.

Neuroblastoma is often silent until it reaches an advanced stage, but Anjali had a rare case enabling doctors to spot her tumor before it spread and to remove it surgically, Anjali’s mother, Kimberly Minocha, explained.

Anjali began her treatment at MSK after emergency room doctors found a mass in her stomach.

“It was a large tumor that had developed on her adrenal gland,” Minocha said.

Within a week, Anjali underwent a 10-hour resection surgery to remove the tumor, followed by four rounds of high-dose chemo radiation immunotherapy.

“We’ve spent pretty much all of 2021 in the hospital with treatments and are forever thankful for being so close to Sloan, one of the world’s renowned hospitals for treating neuroblastoma but also for campaigns like this where we’re able to fund research and give back to the hospital,” Minocha said.

The funding is sorely needed. Parents like the Minochas are intimately familiar with how little federal funding goes toward researching childhood cancers.

According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, “only four percent of the billions of dollars the government spends annually on cancer research is directed toward treating childhood cancer.”

The Minocha family is hoping some of that pediatric research—namely a three-year vaccine program through a Memorial Sloan Kettering research trial—can keep Anjali in remission.

“Sloan has a research trial that’s going on, which is where a lot of the money that Stop & Shop collects helps to fund,” Minocha said. “It’s 10 vaccines over three years to try to prevent relapse.”

Minocha sees participating in the Help Cure Childhood Cancer campaign as a way to help other children and families needing safe treatment and innovative research.

Since the grocery chain’s partnership with the hospital began more than two decades ago, Stop & Shop has donated more than $26 million to pediatric cancer research at MSK Kids, according to a statement.

“Stop & Shop’s continued support of MSK Kids over the last 21 years is unmatched,“ Dr. Paul A. Meyers, vice chair of the pediatrics department at Memorial Sloan Kettering, said. “The generosity of the entire Stop & Shop community allows us to bring better, less toxic treatments to children and young adults facing a cancer diagnosis.”

“The goal of this campaign is to ensure that families at Memorial Sloan Kettering receive the best care possible for their children, and year after year, our customers step up and do just that,” said Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid.

Andrea Crowley-Hughes is a writer and media maker motivated by chronicling and sustaining communities. Her reporting on education, sustainability and the restaurant industry has recently been featured...