Maryann’s story: 20+ years strong after breast cancer

Maryann Clesceri is a breast cancer survivor and a leader at Aurora Healing & Advocacy Services.

Last year, Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care joined together to create Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest not-for-profit health system in the country. Your generosity will continue to make health care more accessible and compassionate for each person we serve. Here, we’re sharing stories about people, just like you, who are making a difference.

Nationally, one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Last year, roughly one-third of the women in Wisconsin who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer chose Aurora Cancer Care for their care. As a part of this year’s Pink Possible campaign, we remember those we’ve lost, cheer those who are in the fight, and celebrate survivors, like Maryann.

Maryann Clesceri is a leader with Aurora Healing & Advocacy Services in Milwaukee, which helps survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence at any point in their recovery. She remembers vividly when she learned she had breast cancer.

“My mother died of ovarian cancer when I was 13 years old, and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I remember thinking that I was going to die like my mother and leave my 3 and 6-year-old daughters and husband,” Maryann recalled.

Maryann’s doctor recommended she have genetic testing done, which revealed she carried the BRCA1 gene. As a result, Maryann follows a special post-cancer treatment plan.

“I’m so thankful to my Aurora Health Care physician who strongly recommended genetic testing. I really believe that is why I am still cancer free.”

As a breast cancer survivor 22 years later, Maryann is an advocate for genetic testing and understanding your risks—and options—to staying cancer-free. She advises other women to be diligent with their breast exams and yearly mammograms.

“And it’s most important to remember that life is too short to not sing and dance,” Maryann said.

Thank you, Maryann, for sharing your story and words of wisdom!

You can be a part of the Pink Possible movement! Learn more at