“I apologized to my family because I didn’t want to be a burden to them,” Waxahachie resident Mary Del Buono shared with the Waxahachie Sun during a recent interview.
The 60-year-old mother of three grown children, Kate, Kelly and David, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer June 27 of last year. Now in remission, she further shares, “I believe faith played a big part in my recovery.”
Her husband Mark affirms that faith, saying, “I told her we would put this in God’s hands and not to worry about it. We had to let God handle this.”
The journey Mary took to being in remission was a difficult one, beginning with having to wait a long time for testing.
Once the tests were completed and she was told she had a tumor, she said she knew it was cancer.
“I cried and I just knew it was cancer and I was worried about my family,” she said.
While some individuals might say, “Why me?” when getting such a diagnosis, Mary said she felt differently. “I thought, ‘Why not me?’ I could have been ‘woe is me’ but special people are put in our lives to help us.
“No matter who you are, you can get cancer,” she said. “This disease does not discriminate.”
Referred to “one of the best” oncologists by her doctor, at first “they didn’t have an appointment until August,” Del Buono said. “Since it was determined to be stage two cancer, we couldn’t wait so we began searching for another doctor. We were very pleased when this doctor’s office called the next day with an opening.”
Mary and the doctor, Sarju Waghela, DO, who works out of Methodist Mansfield, set up a plan of chemotherapy and radiation to treat her cancer.
“This was definitely a tough situation,” Kate said. “Mom has been super strong even when she was sick from the radiation and chemotherapy. She had the strength and mentality to get through this. She put family first and her faith got her through this.”
The treatment included two kinds of chemotherapy at a time; she also had daily radiation treatments.
“[The doctors] were all so good to me and they were very competent,” Mary said. “The surgeon actually operated on me on Labor Day.”
Mary had a concern on how to get to all of the treatments since her daughter, Kate, had an opportunity for a first-year teaching job in Waxahachie and she didn’t want to affect that position. With daughter Kelly living in Golinda, son David living in Utah and husband Mark, a retired Navy veteran working as a government contractor, she was initially worried but “things just fell into place.”
“Mark was working what we call a swing shift and was able to get me to my treatments and radiation before work each day and, on the days he was unable to, Kelly drove up to take me,” Mary said, noting she had lots of support from her family as well as her church family at Waxahachie Bible Church, where the pastor and his wife have fought their own battles with cancer.
The Del Buono family moved to Waxahachie in 2001 from Washington state after Mark retired, falling in love with the city. Mary began working for the city of Waxahachie as a building and community services coordinator, which included serving as a health and code enforcement coordination specialist and also liaison with the garbage company.
“I loved my job and worked there for 12 years,” she said. “I worked with Bob Sokoll, Paul Stevens, Sonny Wilson and Michael Scott. I came back to work after my surgery and had to eventually retire at the end of 2018 for medical reasons.”
While students at Waxahachie High School, the Del Buono children were active, with Kate in the Cherokee Charmers, Kelly as a cheerleader and David in the band.
Mary and Mark were supporters of the Cherokee Charmers for nine years, with Mark known as the “Prop Pop” as he created and provided any prop the Charmers needed for their performances.
“When Kate was little, she said she would be a Charmer when she grew up,” Mary said of her daughter, who, in addition to being a science teacher at Finley Junior High, also serves as director of its Chey-Annes program.
Kate choreographed a routine for her team that was dedicated to her mother. Assisted by Cassie Ortiz, the performance has been turned into a video that includes each student naming someone they know who has or had cancer.
The touching video can be viewed on Facebook by searching for 2019 Chey-Anne Showcase at the top in the search space.
Mary said she believes in supporting young people in the community.
“Get involved, even if you don’t have children. Help a child from a needy family,” she said.