PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Maryann Fonseca will never forget the devastating news she received nine years ago.
“I got a phone call at work,” Fonseca recalled. “My doctor’s office called me and said, ‘I’m sorry Maryann, but you have breast cancer.’ I just remember feeling numb, and like it wasn’t real.”
The East Providence resident said telling her family wasn’t easy.
“I think that was the hardest part,” she said. “When you get a diagnosis like that, your whole life flashes in front of you.”
Fonseca immediately thought of her two daughters.
“I was just worried — was I going to be there for them? See them have children, get job promotions and just thrive in life?” Fonseca said.
“I had this dream, and, in the dream, it was like I had already passed,” she recalled. “Everybody was sad and crying and I was like, ‘No, I’m still here. I’m still present.’ It was one of those dreams that just shook me. What if I’m not going to make it?”
Fonseca underwent 30 “brutal” rounds of radiation therapy.
“When you’re going through radiation, you feel like you’re stuck,” she recalled. “They had to stop the treatment once because I got burned really bad.”
Thankfully, Fonseca came out the other side cancer-free. The 56-year-old has since dedicated her life to honoring those who didn’t make it, as well as those who are still fighting.
“My journey is no longer about me. I’m healed,” she said. ” My journey is about others.”
Fonseca loves to run and had started doing so long before her diagnosis. When asked how many miles she has run in her lifetime, Fonseca said she stopped counting.
“I’ve run endless miles,” she said. “What I love about running is nobody can get to you. Nobody can control it but you. It’s my meditation. It’s my me time.”
Fonseca hit the pavement for Gloria Gemma Flames of Hope earlier this month, and will also be participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk this weekend.
Since 2016, Fonseca has raised more than $10,000 for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation alone.
Though her diagnosis changed her life forever, Fonseca believes it did so for the better.
“I truly found myself,” Fonseca said. “I found my calling, my healing and my purpose through breast cancer.”
“The Maryann who’s here today is not the Maryann from the past,” she continued. “That Maryann has died, she’s gone. I’m definitely reborn.”