"Through my journey, I met so many wonderful people who...

"Through my journey, I met so many wonderful people who are so dear to me. I know what's important in life." - Marisa Marciano

As a young mother, Marisa Marciano had been plagued by benign lesions in her breasts that required the Lindenhurst resident to undergo twice-yearly mammograms and sonograms. By the time she turned 33, doctors removed at least three precancerous lumps from
both breasts.

Over the next 16 years, she never missed her twice-yearly breast screening appointments, except in 2007. When she finally underwent testing in 2008, doctors diagnosed in both breasts ductal carcinoma insitu, cancer in the milk duct that has not spread to the surrounding breast tissue, and invasive lobular carcinoma in the left breast that had spread to her lymph nodes.

"I was in shock ... dumbfounded when the doctor told me it was cancer," recalled Marisa, now 62, who has a strong family history of the disease. "I really thought it would be atypical cells [abnormal cells that are not necessarily cancerous]. It was cancer, not just in one breast, but both."

In June of that year, she under- went a double mastectomy and removal of her lymph nodes under both arms. By July, she would begin four grueling months of chemotherapy, and for the next five years, she would endure twice yearly chemotherapy infusions.

Marisa, cancer-free for 12 years, credits her recovery to her faith, a loving family, a positive mindset and the supportive services of the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition, where she now serves as a board member and teaches Reiki, Zumba and meditation to the women undergoing treatment. "Looking back, I feel like my diagnosis was a gift," she said.

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