Mrs. Margarita (Maggie) Passione

2019-2020 Patient of the Year

Maggie met her husband Byron in High-school, but they didn’t begin dating until they were in their twenties! He proposed in Paris, France and they were married on Sept 3, 2016. Maggie was 33 years old, an avid runner,  vegan, Beyoncé and Fab Five enthusiast! She was an illustrator and graphic designer who lived in NYC and in her spare time loved to paint. Sadly, the bliss of being newlyweds and looking forward to having a family of their own was put on hold.

In September 2017, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tongue and had surgery at Northwell Hospital to have the tumor removed. She was told there was no need for radiation and that there was a 5-10% chance of it returning. 

In April of 2018, she started experiencing significant pain in her mouth and after further testing, she learned that the tumor had returned. Maggie then went to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital in NYC and had a hemiglossectomy, a free tissue transfer from her forearm to reconstruct her tongue, and had 50+ lymph nodes removed from her neck. She then underwent 6 weeks of radiation at MSKCC. In November, during a post-radiation PET scan it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized to her sacrum bone.  After another biopsy, she endured an additional three sessions of radiation treatments. After concluding her radiation treatment she was looking forward to returning to work as a Graphic Designer. Right before the holiday season she was let go from work.

In Jan 2019, during another post-radiation PET scan it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized to her left iliac bone. She began a systematic treatment of chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapies. In March, Maggie found out her cancer spread to a lymph node in the center of her chest and three other tumors in her lower spine. She began another systematic treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. 

In May, Maggie sadly found out her cancer spread to her spine. Her team of doctors at MSKCC placed her on a clinical trial of a new chemotherapy treatment. In July, she fractured her spine which required Kyphoplasty surgery to strengthen spine. Maggie is currently continuing trail chemotherapy treatment indefinitely.

After two grueling years of battling cancer, we are heartbroken to share, our
HNC Fund patient of the year, Maggie Passione passed away on October 15, 2019. 

Her strength, courage, tenacity to fight, sense of humor and optimism was spellbinding. 
We are and always will be HONORED to call her our patient of the year and DEAR friend.

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