Metro giving: Family fights cancer together

Family of survivors: Lisa Fusco, second from right, stands with her family, from left to right: Husband Eugene Fusco, father Michael Vernale, mother Barbara Vernale, and brothers Anthony and Michael Vernale, after the Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure on Sept. 18 in Central Park.

Welcome back to Metro Giving! Every other Tuesday, Metro profiles a New Yorker who is giving back to their community in unique ways. We’ve written about everyone from a man who gave his kidney to a stranger to an Upper East Side woman who gave up her year-end bonus to help feed the hungry. If you know a person or a group that you think should be featured in Metro Giving, let us know! E-mail charity@metro.us

As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the disease is unfortunately something all too familiar to Queens resident Lisa Fusco.

Her mother, Long Island resident Barbara Vernale, was diagnosed with breast cancer twice and her father, Michael, survived prostate cancer. Fusco herself is also a breast cancer survivor. She is just 28 years old.

In December 2009, just four months after her wedding, Fusco was diagnosed with cancer after her husband found a lump in her breast. The next several weeks were a frenzy of tests and a desperate search to find the right doctors. She had a mastectomy with reconstruction, as well as chemotherapy.

Fusco credits her family’s support in helping her beat the disease.

“I’m extremely close to my brothers and my parents,” she said. “Any time anything major happens in our lives, we’re in it together. My mom, since she went through it also, was constantly by my side.”

Even though Fusco’s diagnosis of cancer at such a young age is uncommon, she knew she needed to raise awareness and help find a cure.

Fusco started Pink Party, an annual party to raise money for Komen for the Cure. On Sept. 18, at the 21st annual Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure, Fusco was honored with the Survivor of the Year award, and her father was given the Co-Survivor of the Year. This is the first time members of the same family have been recognized.

“He was shocked and speechless,” Fusco said of her dad. “It meant a lot.”


Get involved

   
Fusco will continue fundraising through October. So far, she has raised $15,210. Donations can be made at Lisaspinkparty.com
   
On Oct. 1 and 8, GrowNYC is collecting nonperishable foods for towns in the Catskills devastated by Irene. Items can be dropped off at the Grand Army Plaza farmers market.


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