By Evan Wechman
The devastating disease of colon cancer is not often talked about among friends and family, as it is an unpleasant and morbid subject. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. It is expected to cause about 51,020 deaths during 2019.
These figures at first glance may not mean much if one has not been personally affected by the illness, but it has now hit home for the residents of Essex County. On January 19, beloved Caldwell educator, Christina Siedler, passed away from her battle with colon cancer, leaving behind a devastated family. She was married to Bob and leaves behind two beautiful young daughters, Ava and Leila.
In addition, she leaves many friends and colleagues left to mourn for the loss of this tireless educator. The stunned communities of Caldwell and nearby towns have joined together to contribute over $51,000 on a Go Fund Me page to help ease the burden for the Siedler family. The campaign seems to be trending upwards with many people sharing stories of the energy and compassion this woman brought to others.
Tina, as she was affectionately referred to by her loved ones, worked full time for the ARC of Essex County and was also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. According to Sue Brand, principal of the Stepping Stones School in Roseland and Director of Early Childhood at the ARC of Essex County, Tina will be terribly missed. “She made a significant impact on everyone she worked with from students, current and former families, and friends. Tina left an incredible lasting impression on everybody she came in contact with.”
Brand, who was Tina’s supervisor, came to value her over time as a great friend, besides being a tremendous teacher. Tina began working for the ARC in 2009 as a Special Educator for the Shapiro Center Early Intervention Program. There, she worked with infants and children in a home setting, providing support and guidance for those at risk of developing a disability.
A few years later, she transitioned to the Stepping Stones School where she again devoted her time to students needing specialized instruction. According to Brand, she showed the same level of compassion towards the other staff members as she did to the students she so lovingly enjoyed working with. “She had a way of making you feel special by the way she intently listened and engaged in conversation. Up until the last conversations she had with myself and others here, Tina was still asking questions about everybody else’s life and getting on with business as usual.”
Tina’s fighting spirit lifted others up as she always remained positive, even in her final days. She was open about her illness but “If Tina was struggling, we did not know about it. Tina was a special person who made a significant impact on all of us who knew her at The ARC of Essex County. Her loss is profound and we will miss her very much,” said Brand.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/the-siedler-family.