Cancer can’t stop River Grove couple from celebrating

When the song “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy was played inside Baciami Restaurant and Bar, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place last week.

The song was selected by Michael Marchi, 13, because it best described his mother, Anna Marchi, who has been battling brain cancer. She and husband Joe, along with about 60 family members and friends, listened quietly at the Elmwood Park restaurant to celebrate Joe and Anna Marchi’s 25th wedding anniversary Aug. 16.

“People got very emotional,” Joe Marchi said.

Michael Marchi said he heard the song when tagging along with his father, when he would he would often go out for a drive and listen to ’70s music on the radio.

“She’s so strong, like a fighter, and [the song] kind of reminded me of her,” he said.

Joe and Anna Marchi grew up in Elmwood Park and now live in River Grove. The two were childhood sweethearts and married in 1989.

A year later they had their first child, Joey, later followed by a daughter, Lauren, and then, Michael. Joe Marchi, 47, who works for Elmwood Park’s Public Works Department, said working and raising their family was the main priority and a big part of what kept them together when Anna was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2002.

After three surgeries and chemotherapy the cancer went into remission — until recently.

“She recovered fully, but we never saw this coming,” he said. “It just came back six months ago.”

She now is receiving an experimental drug from Northwestern Hospital. There are some side effects, but Anna Marchi, 46, says she is feeling better.

“I’m a fighter,” she said. “I have to say that I’m not going to go down easy.”

It was her idea to have a wedding anniversary party.

“I wanted to get all of my friends and family together and have a party; have everyone come together,” she said.

Joe Marchi said marriage and dealing with his wife’s health issues has not been easy on either of them.

“When she got it again, that’s when we got back close,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy over the past 25 years, but we’re glad that we are here together.”

Joe Marchi said anyone dealing with a loved one with cancer just has to take it one day at a time. Anna Marchi said her children have been a motivating force in her recovery.

“I’m going to keep fighting for my kids and my Joe, my parents, my sister,” she said.

There’s no doubt in her husband’s mind that she will.

“She’s a fighter,” he said. “She’s not going to give up easy. She’ll continue to fight.”

After “I Am Woman” ended, everyone hit the dance floor to Jefferson Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

“I did a little dancing,” Anna Marchi said. “My dad even danced. Everyone had fun.”

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