Mary Melillo Pacella was born at home on January 1st, 1959 in Montreal, Quebec. She was the oldest of four siblings. She graduated from high school at 16 years old and went directly to work for the Bank of Montreal. She stayed there for 35 years and was promoted to a portfolio manager. At that time, she met the love of her life. She married Angelo Pacella six years later and it lasted for 29 happy years. After being married for a few years, Mary wanted to start a family. She tried to conceive for over 10 years. Doctors eventually gave up and told her it would never work. She then started the process of adopting when she was blessed with the wonderful news of being pregnant. That happened 21 years ago and Anthony Jonathan Pacella was born. It was the happiest day of her life. Five years later she was lucky enough to be blessed with another son named Daniel Joseph Pacella who is now 16. Life was amazing, everything was going her way.

Her life was complete for she loved being a mother. It was what she fought for till the very last day. Mary was the type of person who took care of everyone else. She always put others before herself. She was a quiet, hard working, dedicated woman who wanted a simple life with her husband and children. All that changed in 2010, when she first had a cough and a sore throat. She had gone to a few doctors but was told it was a cold. This cold was persistent. It led to severe back pain. Throughout all this, she never complained once. She didn’t want anyone to worry about her.

After a few visits to the emergency, the dreaded news came on August 2010. She had Stage IV lung cancer that had spread to other organs. This was a huge shock to my entire family. We were all devastated and like many others who have experienced this terrible news, we never expected this would happen to us. This horrible event just illustrates that life is unpredictable, especially due to the fact that my mother had never drank or smoked a cigarette in her entire life.

Since that unforgettable day, it was and still is a tremendously difficult time in our lives. My mother was that one a person who made us feel safe. She’s the one we miss greatly for she brought us love and endless happiness.  During this time, she remained calm and started taking care of what needed to be done. She prepared my father, my brother, myself and the rest of the family of her leaving us. Unfortunately, my mother fought hard for six months but that awful word took over on January 6th, 2011. She was only 51. It is unimaginable to describe what we have gone through. It changed our lives forever.

During the time my mother was sick, I wanted to plan an event where my mother could have something else to think about and make her smile. It was to be a surprise. But unfortunately, things turned for the worse and so we had to let her know of my idea. Her response was a thumbs up and this is what gives me the strength to always continue. I know she is our guardian angel and that she is still taking care of us.


Since my mother’s death, I am trying to live in her footsteps, especially in her legacy. I hope to show others, especially young adults that anyone can make a difference in society no matter how young one may be. In addition, I would like to let others become aware that even non-smokers can be diagnosed with lung cancer.

All the contributions and/or donations in the past have been donated towards St. Mary’s Hospital Lung Cancer research (in Montreal, Quebec) in memory of my mom Mary Melillo Pacella and to Make-A-Wish Quebec. With the help of my family and friends, I created “StrikeOut Cancer”. During the last six years, we have raised over 120,000$. Hope to keep raising more funds through our events and website!