While lounging outside the Westport Center for Senior Activities, Annie Fasanella wants to show off her socks, shoes and hat. That is partially because they are fun and quirky, but also in part because she is self-conscious about some small blotches that have appeared on her face. They are a temporary side effect of her skin cancer treatment.
"I can either wake up and be miserable, or I can be happy," says Fasanella. Some days, the energy to do that is more difficult than others, but she makes herself find a way. Hats and eccentrically fun attire, along with morning glories and sunflowers, have become iconic symbols people know Fasanella by.
Her cancer battle has gone on for years, and she knows it will continue for quite some time. It's a dark irony that someone who spent three decades as a registered nurse, should fall victim to the tanning and sunbathing of her youth that Fasanella knew wasn't particularly healthy.
But there is a vibrancy and energy in Fasanella that she won't allow a few delinquent cells in her body to destroy. Outside of the Center for Senior Activities she darts around, shouting out with joy at her flowers. Morning glories dot the landscape, and she points to the vegetable garden she helped clean up. Life is around her, and she would embrace it all if she could.
At 59 and 3/4ths, as she is happy to point out, Fasanella says she is looking forward to her landmark 60th birthday in October. She isn't ready to give up any fights just yet. In some regards, she chuckles at the notion of death. When she was 55, she hosted her own wake; with bubbles and music.
"The thing is you have to think happy, look happy and be happy," says Fasanella as she looked around the grounds of the senior center, a huge smile on her face.
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