SEATTLE — She had hair, so I almost didn't recognize her.
But then, under the brunette mane, came that smile.
It gave her away because Dana Manciagli chooses to flash it without fail.
I've learned that three different times, at three different events, as she's told me about her three different diagnoses-- Breast cancer. She's faced battle after battle.
This morning at the Seattle Making Strides Against Breast Cancer breakfast she told me her last diagnosis was stage 4.
But the "c" word she's concentrating on is "choices."
She is choosing to smile. She is choosing to fight. She is choosing to live with cancer-- emphasis on living.
She chooses to talk about her identical twin who waged an identical battle, almost. Manciagli lost Tracy two years ago.
But here was Manciagli, with that smile.
Since I saw her last, she had gotten this newest diagnosis, new surgeries, new radiation and new exhaustion.
But she also had new happiness. She had married her long-time love, Mathis.
Their wedding was in January. They don't know how long their celebration will last.
Manciagli gets scans every six months. The cancer has taken root in her body, but right now, those roots aren't spreading.
She won't get rid of it. She doesn't know if it'll stay at bay for 10 weeks, 10 months, 10 years. It's not up to her. She has no control, except over her choices.
For her wedding celebration, she told friends they didn't want gifts, they wanted donations. They got them.
The wedding gifts raised $16,000 for the American Cancer Society.
"It's not just about me," Manciagli said. "The greatest thing is if I can help prevent someone else from going through this."
Then, her trademark smile. A sign of the choice she's always made: to fight.
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