Marisa is a one handed photographer living in NYC and currently receiving cancer treatment for a sarcoma cancer related to NF1.

Celebrating my 39th birthday.  My first birthday with cancer, but not my last.
Celebrating my 39th birthday. My first birthday with cancer, but not my last.

Shortly after my mother passed away in 2016 from melanoma , my pre existing health issues got worse. I lost almost complete mobility in my right arm due to benign tumors caused by a health condition I have called neurofibromatosis. I thought to myself, I’m right handed, I love to play tennis, I love to cook and I’m a photographer. I had to figure out how to live and how to work very quickly and I did. I’m still working as a photographer with just one arm. I love what I do and this is how I’ve been working for the last 3 years. One of my biggest accomplishments was capturing and completing the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Between the years of 2017 to 2019, I’ve had to undergo 5 major surgeries to remove various tumors in different parts of my body, and some of them have been cancerous. Currently I am receiving treatment at NYU. They are incredible, and Im very lucky. I feel like a family member, not a patient. I know in my heart I would not be able to go through these medical endeavors if I didn’t have a loving, patience and strong fiancé. It's not easy for her, or for my extended family either. I thought to myself, how does one loose the most important person in the world to her, to cancer, and now face this cruel devil disease? My mother was a kind, loving human and so am I. How is this all happening? And then I thought to myself… I have two very important choices, right? Don’t do treatment or do the treatment and fight like hell because you love your new family, your extended family, friends and life itself. So that’s what you do. You fight! You fight for your fiancé, your step daughter, and your extended family. You fight because you want to still capture the world through your lens, mostly of people in communities that need help, for those who need to share their own stories and senior citizens. You fight because you want to be there for your fiancé and step daughter. You fight for your extended family and friends because you want to be there for them. You fight because there’s more to see and do and to cook. You fight because you love, love! But mostly you fight for yourself. I really don’t know what my future holds in store me, when it comes to my health, but I will do everything I can to survive, because my life is so beautiful. As Kahlil Gibran says, “out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

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