LAKE SUCCESS N.Y. – “You can live every day or you can die every day,” cancer survivor Cathy Scibelli said yesterday during a press conference at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute.
“I choose to live. My advice to you is…find what makes you happy and live every day to the fullest,” she said. “Having cancer doesn’t mean that you have to wait to die.”
With those words, Ms. Scibelli, of East Norwich, and a group of physicians and advocates spoke about the delicate road to recovery from cancer. The message of the day was -- educate yourself and do what works best for you.
Geri Barish, a three-time cancer survivor and founder of 1in 9, a Long Island-based breast cancer advocacy group, spoke about the high incidence of the disease in this community. For many years, she said, public discussions of cancer took place rarely, if at all.
“It’s gratifying to see how far we’ve come in terms of education and advocacy,” said Ms. Barish. “Just the fact that we are now seated at the same table as scientists, clinicians and surgeons is a very encouraging show of progress.”
Ms. Scibelli was joined on the panel by another survivor, Leslie Jacobi, of Stony Brook. After receiving her diagnosis “on Sept. 18, 2012, at 5:30 p.m.,” Ms. Jacobi decided that she would seek second opinions and learn as much as she could about her particular illness.
“Breast cancer presents us with a series of choices that no one wants to make,” she said. Now cancer-free for one year, Ms. Jacobi urges others with cancer to “learn as much as you can so you can make the best decision for YOU.”
Also on the panel was Lyle Leipziger, MD, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. After describing reconstructive breast surgery as another mode of empowerment for women seeking to improve their own self-image, Dr. Leipziger summed up the discussion by stating, “The message is clear---the message is choice.” Referencing recent headlines in the news, Karen Kostroff, MD, Chief of Breast Surgery, North Shore-LIJ Health System , noted that women who choose to have prophylactic breast surgery are, in fact, taking control of their own health.
The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute is one of the largest cancer programs in the NY metropolitan area. Comprised of 12 centers of excellence and over 150 elite physicians in 20 cancer specialties, the Institute offers the most personalized and advanced care available for virtually every type of cancer.
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