Support from Others: Talking to those newly diagnosed can make a world of difference. They’re often scared, and your story and experiences can offer them much-needed reassurance. I receive regular calls from women seeking insights from my journey.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Tronco.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Tronco.

Gina Tronco considers her faith and family to be the most important things to her. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42-years-old, Gina further immersed herself in her faith and used it to get through some of her darkest times.

Now in remission, Gina has dedicated herself to helping others through their own cancer journeys. She is the 2023 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s National Visionary of the Year and recently published her first book, “Why is This Happening to Me?”

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

Thanks for having me! I was born in Albany, New York. My father, Luigi, was born in Italy and my mother, Cathy, is a first-generation American. They instilled the value of hard work and dedication in my younger sister Elaina and I.

My parents each one come from large families and shared their rich heritage and traditions with us. Family gatherings were often centered around the two pillars that defined our household: food and music.

My father successfully owned and operated an Italian market & deli, Sainato’s Market, for an impressive 45 years. When my mother retired from a remarkable four-decade career with the state of New York, she began managing different aspects of the family business. I grew up working there, connecting with and serving members of the community. At the time, I didn’t realize all it was teaching me about myself, the value of service to others and what true dedication entails. As an adult, I look back and feel an immense amount of gratitude for being part of a family business and the sacrifice my parents made for us.

The second pillar, music, also played a huge part in my life. I have been playing piano since I was 8 years old. After high school, I chose to remain local and attend the College of Saint Rose. There, I completed both my undergraduate and master’s degrees in music education.

I met my husband while we were in high school. He had just moved back to the U.S. from Sicily, and he came to my door collecting donations for a charity. Shortly after that, we reconnected at school and began dating. Today, we have three daughters.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson revolves around the quote, “Everything happens for a reason.” When my marriage faced difficulties and I received a cancer diagnosis at the same time, I found strength in trusting God’s timing. I firmly believe that there’s a purpose behind every hardship.

Ultimately, things tend to work out, even if we don’t understand how. The key is to have faith in God and His impeccable timing.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?

It was April and my sister and I had been working at the family deli because my father was in the hospital for a procedure. As I was driving to pick up my children from school, I experienced an itch on my right breast. When I reached over, I felt a large lump that clearly didn’t belong there.

I promptly contacted my primary care physician, who didn’t seem to think it was anything. I then called my OB/GYN, who also didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but he arranged for a mammogram and ultrasound — procedures I had not undergone in three years. Although the mammogram did not detect my type of breast cancer, the ultrasound did. I couldn’t help but notice the technician’s silence during the thorough examination.

Soon after, I was ushered into a room where a nurse informed me they discovered something concerning. They scheduled a biopsy for the next morning.

Two days later, while driving, I received a life-altering call. The nurse told me to pull over to the side of the road before delivering the heart-wrenching news I had stage two breast cancer.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

The most daunting aspects of this situation were that my husband and I were separated, my sister lived two hours away, my daughters were still in high school and my parents had demanding work schedules. Initially, I felt alone. I was also at a loss about where to begin finding a doctor. Questions swirled in my mind. Who should I consult first — a radiologist? Oncologist? Surgeon? Should I seek treatment locally or in a larger city? What did stage two, HER2-, ER/PR+ all mean anyway?

The initial 72 hours were a whirlwind and although I was fearful, I knew I couldn’t let my daughters see that. My husband and my sister stepped up immediately and took over the responsibility of handling medical phone calls. They scheduled an appointment with a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital within a week.

How did you react in the short term?

Initially, my response was very pragmatic. I was determined not to succumb to fear. My focus was on prayer, self-care, maintaining a positive outlook, incorporating various supplements and actively seeking information on how to overcome this challenge. I delved into books about breast cancer and connected with supportive groups on social media.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

I found peace in a multifaceted approach to coping. My strategies included prayer, reading inspiring stories of cancer survivors and maintaining a positive attitude. Some people seemed perplexed by my appearance, remarking that I didn’t “look like” a cancer patient. I didn’t know what the expected appearance of a cancer patient was. I tried to smile and remain optimistic throughout.

In terms of physical coping, I went on long walks, striving for a goal of more than 10,000 steps a day. That’s a routine I still maintain. Although my diet was already extremely clean, I chose to strictly eat organic foods and completely reevaluate the ingredients of anything I put on my skin and into my body, including beauty products. Learning about and incorporating herbs was also a practice I found to be a helpful addition to my treatment.

Mentally, I acknowledged the arduous journey ahead but kept my focus fixed on the ultimate goal of being cancer-free. Prayer, meditation and writing played a pivotal role. I was fortunate to have people in my life offering their prayers and support, which was a source of great comfort and strength.

Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

I’m truly grateful for my sister’s support during my journey. She has a wealth of knowledge about natural and organic lifestyles, healing supplements and naturopathic physicians. Right from the day of my diagnosis, she shared a comforting perspective, saying, “Cancer is not here to hurt you: it is here to teach you something.” Her words turned out to be profoundly true.

This experience encouraged me to reflect inward to identify areas where self-forgiveness was needed, recognizing and releasing trauma that wasn’t truly mine to carry. It’s a process I continue to practice by periodically checking in with myself.

In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?

If my cancer were to convey a message to me, I think it would gently remind me how important it is to do the deep inner work. I’ve always valued exercise and a healthy diet but ignored the emotional and spiritual aspects of wellness.

Due to the stress of my separation, I unintentionally lost a significant amount of weight, halted my workout routine, experienced constant anxiety, increased my alcohol intake and struggled with sleep deprivation. Cancer appeared during this tough period, urging me to rethink my life, investigate the root cause of my illness and make a significant change. It made me see that I needed to completely turn around my lifestyle to build the strength to face and conquer this challenge.

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before? Can you please explain with a story or example?

I learned that I am stronger with God than I ever could be alone. I faced and conquered my battle, which I’m truly thankful for. Now, I approach life’s challenges with faith, not fear. I firmly believe God’s guidance empowers me to overcome anything and I trust that everything happens in His perfect timing. My diagnosis, in a way, led my husband and me to reevaluate our marriage and work on strengthening our relationship.

How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve used my own journey to make a positive impact by reaching out to those who’ve recently been diagnosed, sharing my story and offering support. I also wrote a book called Why Is This Happening to Me? and I’m excited to share that I was recently honored as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s National Visionary of the Year. I raised an incredible $915,700 for cancer research and patient care. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m grateful to be able to give back and make a difference.

My family has also started a canned water company called Spirit Water. Our water is filtered underground through two miles of granite, where natural electrolytes and minerals are added. Then it is put into aluminum cans. We are trying to do our part in making this planet a better place without the endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastic bottles.

What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?

There are a couple of misconceptions to consider when it comes to fighting cancer. First, cancer is not a death sentence. Thank God for all the advances in science that have made it possible for cancer patients and survivors to live longer and have a better quality of life. For me, it wasn’t just about chemotherapy and radiation. I personally used a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery along with Eastern modalities such as acupuncture, alternative medicine and homeopathic supplements to tackle it.

Secondly, it’s crucial to understand that once treatment is complete, it doesn’t mean you can go back to your old habits and patterns.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need to Beat Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Prayer: I was fortunate to have a network of prayer warriors across the country. I can personally attest that prayers are powerful.
  2. Strong Support System: My family and friends played a crucial role by providing meals, organizing carpools and assisting with other everyday tasks. They even set up meal trains when I had treatments out of town.
  3. Trustworthy Doctors: I made a three-hour journey to see the doctors with whom I was comfortable entrusting with my care. While the travel was challenging, it was worth it for the peace of mind. I continue to see these doctors twice a year.
  4. Support from Others: Talking to those newly diagnosed can make a world of difference. They’re often scared, and your story and experiences can offer them much-needed reassurance. I receive regular calls from women seeking insights from my journey.
  5. Community Involvement: Volunteering with a local charity can be incredibly therapeutic. Giving your time to a cause is a meaningful way to contribute and heal.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

An impactful movement I believe could do a lot of good is encouraging everyone, particularly survivors, to share their stories and be vulnerable. Whether it’s through social media or writing a book, every survivor has a unique experience and by sharing, we can touch the lives of many.

Personally, whenever I’ve distributed copies of my book, I’ll receive messages like, “I needed that, thank you,” and “I’m going through something similar and your book helped me.” That is incredibly rewarding and demonstrates the positive impact of storytelling.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Hands down, it has always been John Travolta. I have loved him since I was just three years old and watched “Grease” for the first time. It’s still my all-time favorite movie. 😊

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The website for my book is and Spirit Water can be found on I would love to connect!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.