Childhood Cancer Survivor Finds Strength Through Faith on Path to Becoming a Personal Trainer

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Cancer, Catholic Education, Crux, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Leukemia, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

When Rocco Pisani’s working out in his home gym, he’s in his comfort zone. Fitness is his passion.

“I really want to be a personal trainer, I really love working out,” he told Currents News. “We built a gym in the backyard and I’m working out in there a lot.”

But it’s the strength you can’t see that makes him special. Instead of having a big party with all his friends, this year, Rocco’s spending his eleventh birthday in the hospital getting chemotherapy.

“It’s a type of cancer in your blood,” he explained of his leukemia . “It’s when your cells don’t produce normally. They produce like bad cells, so your blood gets low and you have to get transfusions,”

When he was diagnosed in May, his parents Rob and Jamie were blindsided.

“He started having a headache and I would just give him Tylenol but he would wake up and have them again, and the doctor over televisit would say he’s just watching too much TV being home,” Jamie said. “But like, you know your kid. I was like, ‘Something’s not right.'”

During his first days in the hospital Rocco came up with a workout plan, doing whatever he could to stay fit, even on the days he felt too weak to move.

“He was so weak that he was doing bicep curls with water bottles,” Jamie said. “He went from being able to do 100 pushups to he couldn’t even do one, and he was like, ‘That’s it I’m getting back up to 100 pushups.'”

Rocco instantly got back to work. He can’t lift heavy weights yet, but in the meantime he’s lifting his family’s spirits. He’s the first one to tell you he’s going to be fine.

“When you’re in heaven, before you’re born you pick a life and you pick what you want to go through, and I picked this one and God’s plan for me is to get through this and not give up,” Rocco said.

When the pandemic shuttered churches in the Brooklyn Diocese, the Pisanis were attending Mass at their parish, St. Rose of Lima in a different way.

“It’s like church but you’re in your car and you’re listening from your car,” Rocco said.

Jamie believes it prepared them for what was ahead.

“We really believe that Rocco has been prepared for this, and going to those Masses before his diagnosis and strengthening our faith was definitely something that prepared us for this,” she said.

Rocco wears his faith on his sleeve. After seeing how hard it was to keep track of his medications, he donated 100 pill boxes to help newly diagnosed kids.

Rocco’s in remission, but there’s a long road ahead. He’ll be getting treatment for the next three years. Until then he’s living out God’s plan and slowly, but surely getting back to 100 pushups.