STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Rosebank resident Jennifer D’Ambrosio — a labor and delivery nurse and mother of an 11 year old daughter — was a fighter.
“She fought hard for 11 years,” said her sister, Denise Reiter of her sister’s bout with breast cancer that she was diagnosed with at just 31-years-old.
“If you met her on the street, you would never know she was fighting Stage 4 breast cancer,” said Reiter. “She never let my niece know how hard things got. …But in the last few months things got worse. The cancer had metastasized to her skin, liver and lungs.”
Although she fought the disease valiantly, after an 11-year battle with breast cancer, D’Ambrosio died on Dec. 26, 2020.
“No matter what she was going through, my sister would always be there to help someone in need,” said Reiter. “She always had a smile on her face no matter what she was going through. She was always very positive and an amazing role model to my kids and her daughter.”
HER BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER
Nine years ago, D’Ambrosio shared her story with Staten Island Advance/SILive.com readers about her breast cancer diagnosis.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 31 years old and had a 5-month-old daughter. That was only the beginning of what would lie ahead for me,” she wrote.
In the story she detailed her extensive treatment, which included chemotherapy.
“Two weeks later, I got to my chemo appointment and my oncologist drops a bomb on me. My PET scan showed some hot spots, meaning the cancer most likely metastasized,” wrote D’Ambrosio. “So now here I am, 31 years old with an infant at home, and I have stage four cancer. My immediate reaction was, ‘I’m going to die, my husband will be left a widower and my daughter won’t even remember me.’”
She learned on Dec. 28, 2009 that the cancer spread to her sternum.
“When I got to the infusion room [for chemotherapy], it was like the dark clouds had disappeared and I saw the light. I met with my chemo nurse, who was heaven-sent and answered all my questions, reassuring me this was not a death sentence,” she wrote.
“…The most important person that inspires me to continue in the fight is my precious 2-year-old daughter, Alyssa Rose. She goes to the [Making Strides] walk with me and is my biggest fan, along with my husband, Mike. I will not leave this earth until I see her graduate college, get married and have children of her own,” added D’Ambrosio in the 2011 story.
D’Ambrosio had a double mastectomy in 2012, and underwent continuous chemotherapy up until a few months ago, according to Reiter.
“She wasn’t in complete remission, because she had spots on her sternum. She had chemo about every three weeks and scans every three months to keep track of it,” said Reiter.
A labor and delivery nurse at Staten Island University Hospital, D’Ambrosio worked up until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.
“Her doctor didn’t want her to work during the pandemic,” said Reiter.
INSPIRING TO OTHERS
D’Ambrosio became active in raising money for the American Cancer Society through the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk. Her first year she raised $2,000, said D’Ambrosio in the story.
“I’m getting messages on Facebook from all over the world from people my sister never met [in person] — just through cancer support groups. They are saying how much my sister was an inspiration to them, and how they wish they would have gotten to meet her in person,” said Reiter.
D’Ambrosio was also an active leader in the March of Dimes Foundation.
Of D’Ambrosio, best friend Christine Zuffi-Romeo said: “Jennifer had a light in her … To everyone she met, she brought happiness. She was inspirational to all. I will miss her with all my heart.”
In addition to her sister and daughter, surviving are her husband, Michael D’Ambrosio; mother, Diane Taylor Winckelman; brother-in-law, Dr. Michael Reiter; mother-in-law, Genevieve D’Ambrosio; brother and sister-in-law, Nicholas and Elizabeth Argenziano; neices and nephews, Samantha Jolly, Guiliana Argenziano, Nicolas Argenziano, Sophia Reiter, Mia Argenziano and Michael Reiter.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Martin Hughes Funeral Home. There will be visitation on Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St. Ann’s R.C. Church, Dongan Hills on Wednesday.