By: Benita Zahn
"On your knees. It brings you to your knees."
Marri Aviza is talking about her battle with breast cancer.
"Shocked. Am I gonna live. Am I gonna survive."
For 27 years she and business partner Lisa Norgrove have owned Rumors Salon in Loudonville.
They're dedicated to helping women both look good and live well. To that end the duo has raised a quarter of a million dollars for the Jane and Neil Golub breast health center in Niskayuna - from their annual breast cancer fundraising event.
It was a week after the fundraiser - November 5th, 2010 - Marri got her diagnosis. I came just as she and Norgrove started the construction project that would see their business move into a new building. With so many relying on her, Marri made an executive decision. She'd keep her diagnosis a secret to all but a close circle of friends and family.
"I think it would have made things worse for me, initially" she explains.
She took about 8 weeks off to undergo a lumpectomy but worked while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.
Now, two years healthy, she says it's time to talk - and support clients who are battling breast cancer; She knows she can bring something meaningful to them.
"I know exactly how dark those days can be" say Marri, adding, "I can really walk them through that whole journey."
Although she didn't take part in the American Cancer Society's 'look good, feel better program' she knows that attending to one's outward appearance during those dark days can help buoy you.
"Even on the darkest days I wanna say the days that I felt physically beaten downwards, I would get up and I would put on makeup and do my hair and I would get back in bed and I would feel better."
She's also ready to take her place with other survivors at Making Strides Against breast cancer. It'll be her first time at the walk
"And I think that now is my time to come out and get that support."
Making Strides takes place on October 21st at Albany's Washington Park.