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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

Helping Women Know They Are Not Alone

Mary Faraci, shown above with her family, spent her remaining years dedicated to helping women in her community who were undergoing cancer treatment.

There was a moment after his wife, Mary, started breast cancer treatment when Frank Faraci left the hospital room they were in, went into the hallway and broke down.

“I’m always trying to put a positive spin on everything,” he said. “But to see this going on with the person that you love was just very devastating. Something came over me and I couldn’t take it anymore.”

A nun passing by stopped when she saw him. She walked over and asked if she could hug him.

“She didn’t know me. I couldn’t tell you her name. Couldn’t tell you her face.” But he knew she cared, and that’s how Frank knew he and Mary were in the right place.

In the Right Place

Fifteen years ago, when Mary was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was referred to Ascension Alexian Brothers by some of the physicians she worked with. A mother of two young children, Mary had to undergo breast surgery and reconstruction, radiation and chemotherapy.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen to you. When it does, you’re vulnerable,” Frank said. “You don’t know what to do. They help you through it.”

When Mary would go in for treatment, Frank said it would upset her to see so many women there by themselves, without any friends or family.

“She felt bad,” Frank said. “She felt like nobody should go through that alone.”

Driven to Help Other Women

Moved to want to help, she and Frank rallied their large family and support system to raise funds for the cancer boutique at Ascension Alexian Brothers, where women could participate in massage and art therapy, fitness and nutrition classes, as well as fittings for wigs or prosthetics to help them during their treatment journey.

“Mary was brave. She didn’t know what was going to happen with her in the future. But she was still there, wanting to help other women,” Frank said.

Since their first fundraiser in 2009, the Faracis have raised more than $107,000 for patients who use the boutique — now named the Mary R. Faraci Boutique.

Keeping Mary’s Legacy Alive

Mary’s and Frank’s children, Joseph and Francesca, are 23 and 18 years old now. They lost their mom to breast cancer in 2013, but they still carry on her giving, loving spirit. They will both be at “A Day of Awareness” event on October 9, planned in partnership with Joseph’s employer, Inspyr Studios, to benefit the boutique. The Faraci family has also partnered with Brighton Collectibles, and a portion of every “Power of Pink” jewelry piece sold in October will be donated to the boutique.

“I can’t express how that even as awful as that journey ended, it makes you feel good that you’re able to try to help other people in need,” Frank said. “We’ll do whatever we can. We want to help as many of these women as possible.”

Every time Frank walks by the boutique, he kisses his wife’s name. He still feels that Mary is a part of him, his children and all the lives they have impacted by doing what they can to help people in pain know they aren’t alone.



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