Mary Schneider, a Southampton mother of four, never doubted it takes “a village to raise a child.” But in 2013, when she was stricken with stage 2 breast cancer, the oft-cited African proverb was put to the test.
“The community, my church and my friends made sure there was a meal at my house every day at 5 p.m.,” recalled Mary, 48, a pre-K through grade 8 reading teacher. “They did our laundry. My kids’ teachers took them out after school and helped them understand what was going on.”
Mary encountered many obstacles on the road to recovery and was grateful she could draw on several social support networks. There were complications from chemotherapy requiring multiple visits to the emergency room and setbacks from surgery that landed her in the hospital. All of which “threw off” the end date of her treatment, she said, and “devastated” her family.
Through it all, she says, her children were “cared for and had playdates and dinner at friends’ houses. The blessings that came from this were more than I could have imagined.”
Now a three-year cancer survivor, she is giving back to the community that gave her and her family so much. She volunteers with The Coalition for Women’s Cancers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, a supportive community resource for women with breast, ovarian or uterine cancers, and Ellen’s Run, an East End 5K fundraiser for the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, which supports breast cancer survivors and their families.