For Ariana Scandone Romano, hitting a punching bag while boxing is a way to relieve stress and muscle tension – like a weight is lifted off her shoulders. For a while, that weight was a heavy one. Ariana is 33 and a breast cancer survivor.
Both boxing and fighting cancer take endurance. I’m one that never gives up. I give it my all.
Ariana’s cancer journey started when she found a lump in her right breast while taking a shower. Thinking it was just a pulled muscle from a gym workout, she gave it a few days and then contacted her doctor.
Breast cancer still was not running through my mind.
Her doctor suggested she see a Lahey breast surgeon to have a biopsy. The results came in quickly. “As soon as I got that call, I knew that it was cancer,” she recalls.
I was numb. I thought of death, of my life crashing before me. But my doctors took that worry away from me and said that you will survive.
Within two weeks, Ariana started her chemotherapy treatment at Lahey. Boxing helped to keep her going after her diagnosis. “Boxing helped a lot of the aches and pain that I got in my body from chemo and the injections that I had to get the day after,” she said.
No matter how I felt, I still felt the need to work out because it made me feel better in general.
Genetic testing revealed that Ariana carried the BRCA-1 genetic mutation, which meant she was at risk for secondary breast cancer. The testing help clarify the decision for Ariana to have a double mastectomy. Ariana said family members and her boyfriend, Jeff Romano, were at her side throughout and played a tremendous role in her recovery. She and Jeff were married in May 2017.
I wondered if he would ever feel the same about me, but that was not even a thought in his mind. If anything, he loves and respects me even more.
Lahey has special meaning for Ariana, going back to the hospital’s early days when her grandmother was a patient at Lahey’s original location in Boston. “They took such good care of her,” she said. “I always said I would love to work for a hospital like Lahey.” Today, Ariana does just that, as a financial clearance specialist within Lahey’s patient financial services. “Now here I am, almost a year later, working for Lahey, and I feel like I’m giving back to them,” she said. “They saved my life.”
Lahey is more than just a hospital. It’s like I’ve gained another family.