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Human Interest

NJ Community Helps Man Decorate House for Halloween During Wife’s Breast Cancer Battle

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Rob Campanelli

Trick or treaters in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, have long had one house in particular to look forward to.

That would be the Campanelli’s. For 10 years, Rob Campanelli has been turning his home into a Halloween sight fit for the Pumpkin King himself. Recently, it’s been an uphill battle. Rob’s wife, Deena, is finishing up her breast cancer treatment, and the journey has consumed the family for most of the past year and a half. Fortunately, they’ve had help.

Last September, Rob returned home from donating blood to find dozens of members of the community — loved ones and strangers alike — gathered on his front lawn, waiting to help with the annual decorating.

Rob Campanelli
Rob Campanelli

Deena was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in April 2010 and underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. But in April 2015, she received a Stage 3 breast cancer diagnoses after she felt a lump in her armpit — something that occurs in only 3 percent of patients that have had a bilateral mastectomy.

“My wife had mammograms on a regular basis since age 32, and wants to stress the importance of early detection and mammograms and being aware. She felt the lump in her armpit and was proactive,” Rob tells PEOPLE.

Rob Campanelli
Rob Campanelli

Rob says his wife has one more surgery, which she is planning to have before the end of the year. He credits the “unbelievable support” they’ve received from their community with helping them get through the past couple years.

The Upper Saddle River Junior Women’s Club delivered dinner for the family nearly twice a week, and others sent groceries and gift cards.

Rob Campanelli
Rob Campanelli

“Our heartfelt thanks to the Upper Saddle River community, SRJWC (Saddle River Valley Junior Woman’s Club), SRVJCO (Saddle River Valley Jewish Community Organization), SEPAC (Special Education Parents Advisory Committee), A&A Nurse’s Registry, family and friends for all of their tremendous support and generosity during a challenging time,” the family said.