It takes quite a person to not only beat cancer, but then also devote their life to helping others.
But that's just what Maria Orso, or "Mama Marie" as she is so lovingly referred to, did.
"What was I going to do? Sit at home and be a couch potato?" Orso, 78, said to me. "Was I going to get depressed? No!"
And so, twenty years ago, after being diagnosed with cancer and having a mastectomy, Orso started volunteering at the Cancer Center at . Four days a week, Orso helps out around the Cancer Center office, answering phones and doing other administrative tasks.
"It's my home away from home," said Orso, who has lived in Carroll Gardens her entire life.
"She's very proud of being a survivor," said Jane Assini-Van Roten, who works at the Cancer Center with Orso. "She's great at what she does."
Orso says she is "giving back because she survived," which is surely an inspirational statement.
And everyone at the hospital loves her, which also keeps her coming back day after day.
"Marie Orso, aka "Mama Marie," is affectionately referred to as the official Downstate LICH grandmother," said Zipporah Dvash, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs and Development at SUNY Downstate Medical Center at Long Island College Hospital. "Many of us are incapable of passing her in the hall without stopping for a hug."
"Her volunteerism is an inspiration to us all," Dvash added.