"He's just a phenomenal person," Orsini said of her 30-year-old husband, a native of Cranford but a resident of North Bergen for several years. "He never complains, never gets down. It's just another obstacle for him. He knows he's going to get through it. Most people just lie in bed and wonder, 'Why me?' but Vinnie wants me to be stronger."
Debbie Orsini is a lifelong North Bergen resident who gave birth to the couple's first daughter, Brielle, three months ago. It was believed that Vinnie Orsini was cancer-free when the baby was born.
"We were all so excited to have Brielle," Debbie Orsini said. "Vinnie wanted to be a father so much."
But a month after the baby was born, Vinnie Orsini went back to his doctor. The leukemia had returned for a third time.
Michele Biasco is the couple's best friend.
"They were the typical love story," Biasco said. "They fell in love the night they met and they knew they would get married. They're wonderful together."
But when the cancer returned, doctors were left with very little options. Orsini was going to require a bone marrow transplant procedure. Luckily for Vinnie, his brother Nick was a perfect match and decided to donate the necessary marrow to save his brother's life.
"His brother thought nothing of it," Debbie Orsini said. "For the grace of God, we're lucky to have Nick. There wasn't even a thought involved. Nick was willing to do it."
But the procedure had to be done in the New England Medical Center in Boston, where the brothers went last Thursday to have the operation performed. Vinnie Orsini will remain there in total isolation recovery until April at the earliest. Debbie plans to bounce back and forth from North Bergen to Boston during that time.
Although insurance will cover most of the medical expenses, there are other financial burdens and responsibilities, considering that Debbie can not work while her husband tries valiantly and courageously to recuperate.
"We knew it was going to be a struggle," Debbie Orsini said. "But we'll manage."
One day recently, Biasco was sitting with her friend, Sandra Luicci, over dinner and wondered what they could do to help the Orsinis in their plight. Luicci, whose family runs Nick's Tavern in North Bergen, held a fundraising softball game for her nephew last summer.
"Since we always met for dinner, we decided to have a dinner," Biasco said. "We didn't know how it would take off, being so close to the holiday and all. But we sent out fliers to promote it and to see what would happen."
The response for the Tricky Tray dinner to benefit the Vincent Orsini Fund has been tremendous, capturing both the communities of Cranford and North Bergen.
The dinner will be held Saturday, Jan. 17 at the North Bergen Nutrition Center on 45th Street from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be plenty of food, as well as raffles and 50/50s, all to benefit the Orsini Fund.
"The response has been phenomenal," said Biasco, who has been coordinating the event with Pamela Richmond. "I run home to the mailbox every day and see another card, another letter, another donation. People are sending their well wishes, their thoughts and prayers."
Some members of the business community, like Pathmark, have been tremendously supportive. The township of North Bergen donated the use of the Nutrition Center. Verizon, where Vinnie Orsini works, has been very supportive.
"So many people have been reaching out, sending us baskets, gift certificates, donations," Biasco said. "It really has been amazing."
It's been a community effort that has touched Biasco's heart.
"Vinnie and Debbie have always said that I'm coldhearted, that I have ice running through my veins," Biasco said. "But I've been able to open my heart from all of this. I can't believe how many people care."
Debbie Orsini is also overwhelmed with the amount of support she has received.
"I had no idea it was going to turn out like this," Orsini said in a phone interview from Boston. "Half of the people donating things, I don't even know who they are. It's been overwhelming. It really is phenomenal. People we haven't seen in years. Old friends of Vinnie's, people he grew up with. I hear more and more each day."
Added Orsini, "I feel like this is the movie, 'It's a Wonderful Life,' which is my favorite movie. All these people coming forward to help. I truly believe I have wonderful friends. All these people want to help during the holidays. We're blessed."
Orsini said her husband was in great spirits as he prepared for the grueling procedure that was hopefully going to save his life once again.
"He's very optimistic," Debbie Orsini said. "He's been sitting around, playing PlayStation. We're all optimistic. But Vinnie's a very positive person and he's made me a much stronger person. I can't even begin to describe how much easier he's made this for all of us."
Biasco was happy to report that Nick Orsini made it through his portion of the operation fine early Thursday morning and that Vinnie was slated to have the transplant operation performed later Thursday afternoon.
If anyone wishes to make a donation, feel free to call Michele Biasco at (201) 376-7091, Pamela Richmond at (201) 401-9638, or send the donations via mail, c/o The Vincent Orsini Fund, 1521 45th Street, North Bergen, NJ, 07047. Tickets for the dinner are priced at $20 each.