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Battling cancer, West Islip woman Christine McCann takes on her bucket list

Ayahna, 7, of New York City, center, arrives

Ayahna, 7, of New York City, center, arrives by bus to Commack Friday to meet her host parents, Pete, left, and Christine McCann, of West Islip. The couple and their three children welcomed Ayahna into their home for the week as a part of the Fresh Air Fund program. (July 19, 2013) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Editor's note: Community journalist Brittany Wait is chronicling the efforts of Long Islanders to check off an item on their bucket lists. This is the first in her series of videos. If you have a suggestion, contact Wait at

Christine McCann was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011. She called it the “darkest” time of her life.

But it was between radiation treatments during her battle with the disease that she decided to cross an item off her bucket list -- becoming a host mother for an inner-city child. With her family, McCann, 42, of West Islip, applied to the Fresh Air Fund, which allows children living in poor or unsafe urban communities around the country to spend time with a family outside the city.

“In the months I was recuperating, getting through the surgeries and chemotherapy, I thought to myself, ‘What can I do and what could possibly be those silver linings?,’ ” said McCann, who is now in remission. “One of the ideas that came to me was to contact the Fresh Air Fund and become a host family.”

On July 19, after a lengthy application process, the McCann family welcomed 7-year-old Ayahna Seyid, of Brooklyn, into their home for a week of summer activities, many of which -- like swimming and jumping off a diving board -- were a first for Ayahna. McCann said it was an important and memorable experience for her and her family, as well.

“When we first laid eyes on Ayahna I was truly overcome with goose bumps,” McCann said of her arrival. “When she first came off the steps I felt like we knew her already.”


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