Cindy Figurelli of Lockport lived life to the fullest
BY DENISE M. BARAN-UNLAND Correspondent June 23, 2013 10:34PM
Cindy Figurelli | Supplied photo
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:25AM
At age 46, Cindy Figurelli of Lockport was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, Cindy thought she’d beaten it.
Seven years later, the cancer returned, as Stage IV. It had spread to her lungs and bones; her doctor gave her 18 months to live. Cindy marched off for a second opinion and then fought back for the next 13 years with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, meditation and an organic vegan diet.
In the midst of the battles, Cindy lived.
“She had a lot of strength, more than I would have had under those circumstances,” said Kenneth Figurelli, Cindy’s husband and former high school sweetheart. “She never complained; she just met each challenge head on. Sometimes she’d cry but then she did what she had to do.”
During the early days of Cindy’s cancer war, she volunteered at the Cancer Support Center in Homewood. Cindy did such a good job, the center eventually hired her as its volunteer coordinator, Kenneth said.
“She wasn’t a counselor but Cindy was a wonderful person to talk to because she was going through it, too,” Kenneth said.
Despite not feeling well, Cindy traveled to Florida each winter with Kenneth and socialized to the degree her health permitted. At home, Cindy enjoyed dinner dates with her best friends — friendships begun in high school — even though her special diet prohibited indulging in their favorite comfort foods.
Cindy loved Christmas so much, she never packed away the tree or decorations. She merely dedicated a spare bedroom to the holiday and moved those items into the rest of the house as Christmas approached.
She also loved Easter and organized elaborate egg hunts for her children. Cindy initiated those hunts when her three children — Jeffrey and Daniel Figurelli, both of Indiana, and Lisa Lipinski of Plainfield — were young and she never discontinued them.
“They’d be in their 30s and running around the house looking for the eggs,” Kenneth said.
When she was growing up, Cindy sang Elvis Presley songs to her younger brother David Daniels of Indiana, which inspired him to play music in a rock band, Kenneth said. Instead of playing kiddy board games with him, Cindy taught David chess, Liar’s dice and Five-card draw.
When Cindy’s children were young, she helped them with their homework by inventing songs to help them remember such concepts at the 13 colonies. Cindy loved jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku and crossword puzzles, Kenneth said.
Cindy attended Chicago Bears games decked out in Bears regalia. She hosted parties based on the television show “Survivor” and divided family and friends into teams, Kenneth said. She sailed the Caribbean on a yacht with Kenneth and went cross-country camping with him, too.
What Cindy did not do was quit. She wrung every drop out of life until the end, on April 9, at age 66. Cindy’s positive, inspirational spirit, however endures.
“She is a part of me,” Kenneth said, “and she always will be.”
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