Class of 1959

We, the Class of 1959, celebrated our 50th class reunion on April 24 and 25, 2009. This blog is about sharing memories of our class reunions and a long ago life at our Alma Mater's, S.F.X.A. and S.A.H.S. Good memories of days gone by but not forgotten! A gift to my classmates. ~Marian Love Phillips ~

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cancer Fights Makes Us Stronger

Nina Coccaro Buell graduated from Saint Francis Xavier Academy in the Class of 1961.

In 1958, while getting ready for bed, I noticed a small lump in my left breast. Looking in the mirror it was noticeable, and I called my mom into my bedroom.  Dr. A. P. Messina was married to my aunt and, lucky for me, he came over to the house the next day, a Saturday.  He immediately suggested that I go to the Messina Clinic, where his brother, a surgeon, examined me.  I'll never forget the look on his face as he told my mom, "that's got to come out of there."

On Sunday, after Mass, I was admitted into Mercy Hospital.  By early Monday morning, it was all over.  I knew nothing, other than I was having a small lump removed, until I came out of the anesthetic.  I can still hear Dr. A. J. say "it was cancer, and we removed the breast."  I was 15 years old.

This diagnosis was almost unimaginable at that time for a teenager, and reconstruction was unheard of.

After 10 days in the hospital, it took an additional three days for me to have enough courage to look at myself.  I remember standing in front of the mirror, peeling the bandage back a little at a time.  All that was left was a scar from my shoulder to my waist and skin over bone.

At 15, it's hard to imagine what goes through your mind if you've never been there.  Some girls think it's a catastrophe to have a "zit" on their face.  For me, all had been right with the world.  I had just gotten my driver's license.  My mom had just given birth to a beautiful baby sister, whom my 11-year-old sister and I thought was the only baby in the world.  I had loving, caring parents, great extended family and wonderful friends.  I was looking forward to my sophomore year in school.  In one short weekend, my life changed.  I found myself cleaning out closets, because I couldn't wear cute little sundresses or certain tops any longer or even two piece bathing suits.

In 1965, I found out that God had someone special in mind.  I always said that my sweet dad said so many prayers, I received a bonus that only God could send.

After meeting and dating my future husband for only three months, he asked me to marry him.  Before I gave him my answer, I told him my story.  After looking at me for a few seconds, he said "You look like the same girl to me," - - and I guess I looked like the same girl 48 years later!

Our first beautiful "miracle," a girl, was born nine months later, and a son, born three years afterwards.  At age 40, I gave birth to a 10 lb. 4 oz baby girl.  They were all healthy and natural births.

In 2011, my yearly mammogram detected another tumor in my right breast, which resulted in a second mastectomy.  Being the man that he was, my husband took over my care, the house, the cooking and the grandchildren, never complaining, always willing and able.

They say "what doesn't kill you makes you strong."  I'd like to think I'm a little stronger and hopefully a little better person.  It definitely made me who I am, who keep God at the forefront of her life.

Written by Nina Coccaro Buell and dedicated to her amazing husband, Jimmy, who lost a courageous battle with lung caner in November 2013.

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