Pascack Valley High School lacrosse team ‘adopts’ 8-year-old girl battling brain cancer


A high school girls lacrosse team “adopted” an 8-year-old girl who is battling brain cancer in an effort to lift her spirits.

Delia Mattessich, of River Vale, was diagnosed with a brain tumor six months ago and had to undergo brain surgery in October.

“Devastation and so scared,” says her mother Diane Mattessich. “I didn’t know what was ahead. I didn’t know if she was going to have a future.

But Diane says that the worst is now behind her daughter, and that she is not going to fight alone, after Delia was matched up with the Pascack Valley girls lacrosse team. The match was made by the nonprofit group Friends of Jaclyn.

“Hopefully someday she’ll be able to do all of this,” says coach Melissa Velez. “But it makes you think about more than yourself.

Before Delia was diagnosed with the tumor she was a cheerleader. Now she is cheering for her adopted lacrosse family.

"I look at things differently because she's so young. Don't take things for granted. You don't know whatever is going to happen,” says junior Maddy Carullo.

Delia’s friends and family say that they are impressed with how strong she is, as she goes through weekends of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and frequent stomach aches.

"It makes me feel sad and mad and angry that out of all people it happened to her,” Delia’s sister says.

But working with the lacrosse team has been beneficial for Delia.

"It's so nice to see her happy and see a smile on her face. And they all love her and she loves them and it's beautiful to watch,” Diane says.

The family is hopeful that Delia will be cancer-free by Christmas.

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