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2008 survivor profile: Rita Gennaro

A diagnosis of breast cancer is never welcome news. But when Rita Gennaro discovered in 2005 that her form of cancer, called "spindle cell carcinoma," is one of the rarest, the Farmingdale resident was stunned.

"It accounts for only 0.5% of all breast cancers, and it's a rapidly growing form," says Gennaro. "There wasn't a survivor I could relate to." Despite the statistics, Gennaro remained optimistic; she dealt with aggressive chemo and radiation by eating healthfully, staying hydrated and thinking of others.

"I revved myself up for each session with the mindset that if anything happening to me could help a child in this situation, I could face anything."

With the help of her family, friends, and "on the wings of prayer," Gennaro says she feels great these days. She advises other patients to not worry about how you look so much. "There is too much emphasis on being bald ... I wish I had just gone with a scrubbed face!"

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