The Peter Powerhouse Foundation was formed to improve the lives of children that are currently fighting childhood cancer by providing donations to pediatric cancer treatment facilities, and contributing financial support to researchers to improve the lives of childhood cancer Survivors.
Peter Zucca was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10-months. He was diagnosed on Christmas Eve Day and his parents were given no hope for his survival. They went for a second opinion on his first birthday. I remember thinking, “It’s his birthday it has to be good news. Physicians at the second opinion had nothing to offer our little boy, in fact, they sent him home to die and told us he had two months to live," said Dawn Zucca. "We planned his funeral and his first birthday party at the same time it was very painful."
Ultimately we found our way to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in NYC. We lived in the Ronald McDonald House for over 8 months. Peter underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. After all of that treatment was over we headed home. It was the day before he turned two and he was given a twenty-four percent chance of survival.
He fought so hard for everything. He was unable to walk and was barely speaking. We had services of every kind in our home. I used to pack him and his tiny little walker into the car and we’d meet his physical therapist on the mini-golf course at Freddy’s Family Fun Center. He was determined to play there and she’d hold his hands so he could walk or help him to stand so he could putt the golf ball. In spite of all he had endured he was an incredibly joyful little guy.
He’s been involved in many years of follow-up care and to date has been in the OR 15 times, two of which were for chemo-related dental issues, all the rest were for some form of invasive procedure. The most difficult coming May 23, 2013 when his right leg needed to be amputated above the knee because of a Desmoid Tumor. It’s a difficult surgery for any one to endure but this little boy was very active and loved to swim and play baseball. He had to learn balance and to walk with arm-cuff crutches and later a prosthetic leg. He was amazing; he returned to school five day after the amputation and had lunch with the guys - one week later he was back in class full-time. But the most amazing thing to watch was Peter back on the pitcher’s mound throwing strikes nine days after surgery - he was a powerhouse! He was involved in extensive outpatient rehab five days a week. I’d pick him up early from school (he was in the third grade) and he’d do his homework in the car on the way to the hospital in Delaware.
He is well loved at all the care facilities he visits and we are Facebook friends with many of his nurses. One evening he read a post from one of the nurses saying that they had a wagon shortage at the hospital and one of her little patients had to walk to the infusion room for her blood draw. Peter was outraged, “No child in treatment should be walking through the hospital for care!” “We have to do something, we need to help, I need a foundation, I can’t do enough on my own.” And so The Peter Powerhouse Foundation was born. His mission is to improve the lives of children in treatment by making donations to the facilities that treat them and to help survivors to thrive by making grants available to researchers that are working to eliminate future treatment damage, or correct treatment damage that currently exists.