Family support keeps Angela DiFiore running

Sep 25, 2008 at 4:50 p.m. ET

When this young mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, her family came together - and started running for her life.

The importance of family

For Angela DiFiore, 30, of Cleveland, Ohio, it's all about family. It always has been.

"My family is big – really big! And we have a wonderful bond," Angela said. "My father is one of seven, and my mother's one of eight." Her husband, Tony, also comes from a large and close family, and together they have Maria, four; Tony Jr, two; and year-old twins, Luca and Lorenzo.

Breast cancer can bring family's closer

During the holidays, Angela went for a breast biopsy just a few days before Christmas, and she swore her parents and Tony to secrecy. They were spending the holidays with Angela's family, and she didn't want the holidays to be marred in any way. She got the results just two days after Christmas while they were still visiting. The word went out through the large family network almost instantly.

"It was really hard," she remembered. "No one in our family has ever had a problem like this. And everyone just came to my mother's with platters of food. They were just there for me." Angela's family became an intense support system for her, Tony, and their children. "They became hands and hearts reaching out to us," Angela said.

Breast Cancer 3-Day gives purpose and solidarity

Angela's cousin changed the lives of her family by bringing to attention her great big idea to walk for breast cancer. "Jill started it, and she said we'd walk in Cleveland," Angela said. "Jill is great at inspiring people and keeping their spirits up."

It was Angela, though, who decided that she'd walk Cleveland's Breast Cancer 3-Day with them. She was still doing radiation when she started training.

"Training was hard," Angela admitted, "but what was harder was doing it with four kids to take care of." But she did relentlessly and walked with eight other women from her family, including her mother, two sisters-in-law, four cousins as well as her best friend. "We started with 15, three more cousins and an aunt, who in the end weren't able to walk with us," Angela said.

Walking gave her and her team a new sense of purpose and solidarity. "My cousins really reached out, and we all realized how much it means. To see people you don't know and know they're fighting and walking for you, it's… wow. You feel the warmth of the human spirit and see how good people can be."

She and her team raised more than $20,000 this year, a little short of their $50,000 goal. "Next year we'll have a bigger team, and we'll make it."

Keep looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel

Her family is still lending support. They're rallying to form that bigger team and begin training. They're also lending practical support, helping out with babysitting and more as Angela continues with chemotherapy that should be finished by early spring.

"I'm doing great," Angela reported. "My hair's growing back. I feel really good. I'm so glad to come out of the tunnel and be in the light."

Sources for more information on breast cancer

American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service
Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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