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Ill Father to Support Golisano Children's Hospital in Daughter's Name

PanzettaJim Panzetta was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer last year and it has since spread to his bones. His own health isn’t what he’s most concerned with, however.

In January 2008, Jim’s daughter Kera spent 124 days at Rochester General Hospital after having a tumor the shape of a 300 watt lightbulb removed from the middle of her brain. Kera has neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and type 2 (NF2). The genetically distinct disorders cause tumors to grow in the nervous system. 

After her complex neurological surgery, Kera arrived home in Greece at the functioning level of a 5 to 8 year old. She was 26. After a period of time, her brain recovered fairly well and she slowly continued to progress.

“Kera demonstrated some abnormal behaviors when she was growing up, but we didn’t think much of it until we brought her in for tests in 2008 and, after an MRI and CT scan, she was diagnosed with NF1 and NF2,” said Jim. “In many ways she now functions as an adult, but, in some ways, she is more of a 12 year old.”

James Maxwell, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Rochester General Hospital and Howard Silberstein, M.D., chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Golisano Children’s Hospital, both treat Kera. Although Maxwell is her primary doctor, the two work as a team to give Kera the best care possible.

Kera has had about 15 tumors removed, both internally and externally. Due to two complex surgeries on her brain, and a number of other medical issues, Kera depends on her family to take care of her at home.

Although Kera’s mom Cindy takes care of her when she’s not busy at work, her father is her main caregiver. Jim’s responsibilities consist of having to give Kera shots of manmade hormones three times a day, taking daily bloodwork and more. With his own health deteriorating, Jim wanted to ensure that his daughter would be honored in a very special way.

Although Jim is “holding it down well,” it is his wish that when he and his daughter pass, $750,000 from his estate will be donated to Golisano Children’s Hospital. Jim and Kera want the Panzetta family legacy to live on in helping children and their families in the community, an inspiring goal that will undoubtedly be surpassed. 

The generous donation will support Pediatric Imaging in the new Golisano Children’s Hospital, with $250,000 benefiting the MRI room and $500,000 supporting the Pediatric Imaging Procedure Suite.

“Golisano Children’s Hospital is the most beneficial place in our community,” said Jim. “Kera’s innocence and the innocence of children make the hospital an obvious choice.”