When Christina Amato-Smith learned that she had breast cancer, her first thought turned to her son, then just five years old.
"He's my miracle baby," says Christina. "It took seven years and 13 in vitro fertilization procedures for me to get pregnant, and I couldn't think of him growing up without a mother."
The day she got the news from her doctor, she cried, but she quickly decided that she was going to do whatever it took to get well. She and her doctors agreed that she would have a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. She also had 23 lymph nodes removed because the cancer had spread.
Through it all, she says, "I fought so hard to keep life as normal as possible." To help her son, Christina found a children's book designed for youngsters whose mothers have been diagnosed with breast cancer, called Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo. This reassuring story helps kids know what to expect and encourages them to share their feelings.
Talking with other breast cancer survivors at the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition was another huge support. "It's truly comforting to know someone is in your corner who has walked in your shoes."
Christina, who is the owner of Top Cuts Salon, wanted to thank the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition for all its help, so she started a foundation called Beauty for a Cure. So far, the group has raised more than $150,000, all of which goes directly to five breast cancer coalitions on Long Island. The next fundraiser will be held on November 1.
"I believe I was diagnosed with breast cancer so I could help others with their battle," says Christina. "Now, for me to be able to give back to these coalitions is a blessing."