Milford Mourns Loss of Cancer Activist


By Terry Rogers

On Saturday, September 30, Cynthia Canevari lost her battle with cancer, leaving behind many friends and family members who spoke of her dedication to eliminating the disease forever. Ms. Canevari was the keynote speaker at this year’s Relay for Life event in Milford. In September 2013, Ms. Canevari traveled to Washington D.C. with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) to ask Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority.

Ms. Canevari was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. In her speech at Relay for Life, Ms. Canevari said that she remembered vividly how her initial diagnosis affected her. She said she was paralyzed with fear, worried about the loss of independence, but that she refused to let cancer win. Although she recovered from breast cancer, she was later diagnosed with bladder cancer and then with neuro-endocrine carcinoma. Despite those diagnoses, Ms. Canevari never stopped fighting for people with cancer.

She created the Ribbon Cap Club, a not-for-profit organization that offers caps in bright colors adorned with ribbons. Although Ms. Canevari initially used the cap during grueling chemotherapy treatments that caused her to lose her hair, the caps were sold to anyone with proceeds going to organizations who were dedicated to fighting cancer. The organization donated over $50,000 to those organizations since its inception. Through her efforts, five laws passed in Delaware giving cancer survivors better survival chances. Ms. Canevari worked tirelessly as the Delaware State Lead Ambassador for ACA CAN, meeting with lawmakers at both the federal and state level regarding problems cancer patients and their families face after diagnosis and during treatment.

“Heaven once again gained an amazing angel,” Bobbi Jo Webber posted on her Facebook page. “Cynthia Canevari was one of the greatest ones out there. Even though in her own words, she would tell you she was not a nice person, we all knew the truth. We knew her as the most positive, encouraging, happy, fun-loving, energetic person who always had the biggest smile on. Even as she faced the most difficult trials in life, she loved life to the fullest.”

Carey Cahill Murray commented that she was in shock upon hearing of Ms. Canevari’s death. Murray said that Ms. Canevari took every day in stride and always made things positive.

“When we worked together a week ago, I didn’t know His plans were to upgrade your loving arms to angel wings so quickly,” Ms. Murray said. “You are an amazing woman. Inside and out, you are passionate and your love for everyone overflows. You set the bar high while fighting your battle. I don’t know where the strength comes from…treatments and still working so hard plus all your marathons…you continued.”

A view of Ms. Canevari’s Facebook page indicates just how much of an impact she had on those she came in contact with. Everyone mentioned her strength, her encouragement and her battle to bring a better quality of life to cancer patients and their families. Lorna Petchey said that Ms. Canevari was one of the first friends she made when she and her husband moved to Delaware, calling her a “survivor, a fighter and a warrior.”

“Just five weeks ago, I was sailing up an Alaskan fjord with one of my dearest friends,” Valerie Neff Newitt said. “She was, at that moment, as always, as full of life and gratitude. Today, her life was cut short by cancer. Unexpectedly. The world is truly diminished. Cindy embodied optimism and hope. She was busting with love for the experience, for her husband and best friend, Mike Canevari, and for all of us sharing the beauty of life with her. Cindy always spoke well of every person, practiced unending gratitude and made me personally feel better somehow for spending the day with her. There is a huge hole in my heart today.”

Ms. Canevari’s husband, Michael, said his wife never held anything back and that she had such a zest for life, wanting to make sure everyone was happy before she was.

“Just reading the posts on Facebook, her smile and laugh were infectious and will remain with everyone she’s touched for a very long time,” Mr. Canevari said.

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