What doctors initially thought were COVID-19 symptoms for a Clifton teacher and breast cancer survivor turned out to be leukemia.
Diana Maksymowicz, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Feb. 21, 2019 -- the day of her daughter, Sia’s, fourth birthday.
She underwent rigorous breast cancer treatment, including the removal of her right breast in April 2019, as well as radiation and chemotherapy, which she finished in December.
However, tragedy struck yet again late last month, when Maksymowicz -- a basic skills instructor at School 11 in Clifton -- began experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“We were originally told that she probably had either COVID-19 or strep throat,” family friend Julianna Grossi Wisse told Daily Voice.
But the diagnosis was much worse. Maksymowicz was admitted to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and diagnosed with leukemia.
“She’s out of work for at least eight months, and she’ll have to go through all this again,” Wisse said, referring to the intense radiation and chemotherapy Maksymowicz has already endured.
More than $10,000 has been raised as of Tuesday on a GoFundMe for Maksymowicz’s medical and household expenses.
“Good days and bad days, Diana always has a smile on her face, is always beaming with positivity, and constantly thinks of others,” reads the fundraiser. “She is always there to lend a helping hand to her fellow teachers, friends, and family. Now it is our turn to return the favor.”
Meanwhile, temporarily out of work as security in the Coaches Club at MetLife Stadium, Wisse has been helping to care for Maksymowicz’s two daughters, Sia, 5, and Jerika, 2.
“I adore them like a grandmother,” she said. “You do what you have to do.”
Above all, the Clifton community, as well as Maksymowicz’s many close friends and family members, continue to give their unwavering support during her courageous battle.
“She has endured more treatments and surgeries than anyone should ever have to experience, and she has a long road ahead,” reads the fundraiser. “Yet through it all, she has been a fighter and a survivor. Her strength and courage are inspirational.“
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