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Long IslandTowns

Husband keeps wife's memory alive after her battle with cancer

Susan and Joe Satriano celebrate Easter in 2004.

Susan and Joe Satriano celebrate Easter in 2004. Photo Credit: Handout

Joe and Susan Satriano met in class when the two were studying to be high school math teachers at Brooklyn College, and the rest is history; or as Joe describes it, ?math.?

?If Sue were here today she would say it was the only D she ever got in a class,? said Joe, laughing.

They were married on June 27, 1976.

Joe, 59, of Oceanside, taught at Roslyn High School for 25 years and Susan taught at Bushwick High School in Brooklyn until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993.

?We loved what we did. We were the fun math teachers and she loved the kids,? Joe said. ?This was our space.?

He said fate brought him and his wife together.

And when she was diagnosed, the two spent the last 13 years of her life laughing, living and rarely spending a moment apart.

Joe was allowed to retire four years early so he could spend time with his wife during her final years.

After her death in 2006, Satriano said his sons Matthew and Justin had been silently suffering as they watched their mother lose her battle to cancer.

?When Susan had cancer I wasn?t concentrating on the kids,? Satriano said. ?We saw the devastating effects it had on our two sons to watch their mom like this. It leaves an emotional scar on the kids.?

Satriano decided to use his wife?s $10,000 life insurance check to establish the Susan Satriano Foundation, a scholarship program for children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer. In 2006, Satriano awarded four students $1,000 each, and has since doled out $130,000 in scholarships to students all over the nation.

?Everything was taken away from my dad, and it?s nice to see that he could take something negative and turn it into something positive,? said his son Matthew Satriano, 28. ?There weren?t really any foundations that targeted the kids, and I think this fills an important gap.?

In order to apply for the scholarship, a student must have a parent with cancer and be a high school senior planning to attend college.

Satriano spends most of his time fundraising for the foundation and promoting his book, ?In Sickness and in Health.? All of the proceeds raised from his novel about his relationship with his wife go back to the kids.

On April 28 at 8 p.m., Massapequa High School will host a Beatlemania concert with the Strawberry Fields Forever Tribute Band to benefit the Susan Satriano Foundation. Tickets are $25 and all of the proceeds will go to scholarships.

Shannon Conerty, 18, of Valley Stream, who received the $1,000 scholarship after her father was treated for breast cancer, said she is very appreciative of Satriano for remembering the children of cancer patients and helping her attend Adelphi University.

?It?s amazing what he does and how much time he spends on the foundation,? said Conerty. ?He?s definitely a role model.?

For his work, Satriano has received several awards including the 2012 American Federation of Teachers Everyday Hero Award.

He plans to turn his foundation into a national cause in memory of his wife.

?Susan and I truly were cosmically made to find each other and enjoy a wonderful life together despite the cancer,? Satriano said. ?And that?s what we did.?

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