Constance Gaeto Morrissey, 38, of Newtown Square, a corporate sales representative and devoted mother of two young children, died Friday, Jan. 5, of complications from breast cancer at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Known as "Connie," she had been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in September 2016. The illness, which accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of all breast cancers, can be especially hard to treat because it doesn't respond to drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, or a special gene receptor, according to information on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website.
"She was 37 at the time and had just had a baby," said her sister Angela Gaeto. "She was always healthy and ate right. It was a complete shock. It just came out of nowhere. Right off the bat, it was an extremely aggressive cancer."
Mrs. Morrissey's husband, Patrick William Morrissey, immediately began to research treatment options and seek medical advice. She fought "a heroic battle," he said, and willed herself to live longer than doctors expected for the sake of the couple's two children, Benjamin, 4, and Julie, 1.
"She loved her kids so much," said Gaeto. "I feel like she got cheated. I don't feel good about that."
"I am devastated and heartbroken, and still can't believe this is happening" Mrs. Morrissey's husband said.
Born in Parma, Ohio, to Joseph and Lauray Gaeto, she graduated in 1997 with honors from Our Lady of the Elms High School in Akron, Ohio. She graduated in 2001 with a bachelor of science degree in food marketing, and 13 years later earned a master of business administration degree, both from St. Joseph's University.
While studying at St. Joseph's, she met Morrissey, of Westfield, N.J., who also was an undergraduate. The two married in June 2008.
For five years after college, Mrs. Morrissey pursued a career in sales at L'Oreal, working from an office in Cranbury, N.J. She sold beauty products to retailers.
In 2006, she was hired by Johnson & Johnson, which had an office in Plymouth Meeting, to sell skin creams and lotions. She was on maternity leave in 2016 when doctors found the breast cancer. Afterward, she remained on full-time status, but took a disability leave of absence.
"Connie lived every day to the fullest and was the center of her family's world," her husband said. A devout Catholic, she set the values and traditions for her family.
Mrs. Morrissey enjoyed spending time in her backyard garden in Newtown Square, where she grew a wide variety of vegetables and tomatoes. She also cooked and baked, and vacationed at Sea Isle City, N.J., as well as Spain, Florida, California, and Arizona.
She was generous to a fault, her husband said. "Connie always gave without expecting anything in return," he said. "Family and friends were truly lucky to be part of her life. Her smile was infectious. She will be deeply missed by all."
Besides her parents, husband, children, and sister, Mrs. Morrissey is survived by another sister, Jeanne Gaeto.
A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Frank C. Videon Funeral Home, 2001 Sproul Rd., Broomall. A second visitation is planned for 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, at St. Anastasia Church, 3301 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square. A Funeral Mass will follow at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.