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Tina Sacchini: Timing Is Everything

By Genevieve Branco

It is true that you never know how you’re going to respond to difficult times until they happen to you. Many of us can sit back and say, if it was me, I would do it like this, but the reality is not that simple. You also don’t know the limits to your endurance and the expanse of your strength, until they are put to the test. Even now that Tina Sacchini’s breast cancer is behind her, I don’t think she’s fully realized what an amazing woman she is and how great was the journey she traveled. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20… so here’s her story, looking back, from my perspective.

One day after Tina’s routine mammogram in December 2022, she got the call to return. For most of us we would be freaking out already, but Tina was calm because she had had this exact thing happen to her back in 2013 and it was nothing. Unfortunately, this time, it was something.

On January 23, 2023 it was discovered that Tina had HER2+, stage 1A invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast.

Timing is a curious thing. We say, it never rains but it pours, to refer to multiple “bad” things happening at once, but Tina would probably say that God’s timing is perfect. In her case, the rule of three swept through her 2022-2023 years. First, her mother passed away unexpectedly in February of 2022. Then, alongside her breast cancer diagnosis, her father-in-law passed away. In fact, she buried her father-in-law on January 19, and got the call that her biopsy was positive the very next day. Most of us would say, wow, that’s some bad timing.

When the doctor told Tina, you have cancer, she stopped hearing everything after those words. Everything stopped. Her worst fear had become a reality. In Tina’s case, she had always had a deep fear of getting breast cancer. Her diagnosis was overwhelming at first. The worst-case scenarios went through her head, and the unknown was the worst part. For several days she waited for more information and waited for a plan, all the while having the worst thoughts go through her head, and the what-ifs dancing on her heart. She felt the dread overshadowing everything else, but she clung to Psalm 23, “…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” And through mediation and prayer she surrendered control of the situation and trusted God. She knows that God walked with her through her valley, and made it possible to discover the blessings, despite her circumstance.

One of the blessings Tina discovered was God’s timing. One can imagine how enormous the pain was for their whole family to lose Tina’s mom, then to lose the patriarch that her father-in-law was. To simultaneously deal with Tina having cancer was a lot for a family to bear. When she was first diagnosed, all Tina wanted to do was to call her mother to find comfort, but that wasn’t possible. The blessing was found in her mother-in-law, Norma, who stepped filled in a gap for Tina during the worst times. The blessing was both of theirs, since taking care of Tina met a need that Norma as well, since the loss of her husband after a 50-year marriage. The circumstances, however tragic, may have happened at the right time after all.

Tina gives so much credit her husband, Chris, who was her rock, and to her sons, Andrew and Anthony. Chris was at every treatment, thanks to his work being so understanding and the fact that he was working from home due to COVID-19. Tina feels enormously grateful that she was surrounded by positive and loving people, from her treatment team to her family to her friends from Bible group, to the Links for Life newly diagnosed support group that she found. She started back to work on January 24 of this year, after taking some time off to focus on her wellness and healing.

Reflecting, Tina says that its amazing when you realize what you can do and how strong you really are. Although she doesn’t yet know the reason why she went through this experience, she feels like the reason will come to light eventually. She is now thankful for this healing journey and thankful that she learned that when you’re going through a valley like this, you must choose to surrender control, every day, to God. When you think you can’t do it, she says, just keep doing it.

Tina is so thankful for all the little things in her life like gardening and walking the dogs – things that most people take for granted every day or even things that people find burdensome, Tina now sees as a blessing. Most of all, Tina is thankful to all the people who surrounded her through this trek, and she’s thankful for God. She wants to tell you, if you’re going through something, that God will come through. He answers prayers. Although we may not understand the why or the why now, God’s timing is always perfect.