Joan Bisesi remained positive and courageous, even throughout her painful battle against cancer. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Mira, Joan sent out an e-mail to her friends:
Phil and I have decided not to be bashful in asking for your support to cure cancer. I love flowers and cards…but I would rather be cured and be able to see the flowers at Mira’s wedding than to see them now!
Months before, as she was finishing radiation treatments, Joan learned she was pregnant. Although concerned about whether she was physically strong enough to handle the pregnancy and give birth, she was ecstatic. The pregnancy was difficult and Joan struggled to stay healthy. In August 2001, just as she was planning for the baby’s arrival, Joan learned that her cancer had again recurred. In order to allow Joan to undergo another surgery, the baby was delivered several weeks early. Sadly, however, it was too late for Joan. By then, the cancer had become inoperable.
Joan and Phil Bisesi
Joan and mother, Leah Levy
Mother and daughter, Joan and Mira
Joan’s difficult journey began in 1996, at age 29, when she developed canker-sore-like tumors in her mouth. She was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that was rare for someone Joan’s age who maintained a healthy lifestyle. In fall 2000, just as she was looking forward to crossing the five-year mark cancer-free, Joan’s cancer returned.
Joan died November 23, 2001, when her beautiful daughter, Mira Sophia, was just 10 weeks old.
Unfortunately, Joan’s situation is not unique. Statistics show an increasing incidence of squamous cell carcinoma among young people who have never smoked. No one knows why this is happening, only that it is happening. Joan’s Fund supports research that focuses on finding a cure, not just for her specific disease, but for all types of head and neck cancers.
Through generous gifts, memorial donations, honorary contributions and fundraising events, Joan’s Fund continues to raise awareness of head and neck cancers, while supporting research to find a cure.