Saturday Spotlight- Shannon Buscemi

Name: Shannon Buscemi
Aka. Captain Smiley
Age: 40 (12 days till 41…EEEEK)
Hometown: Nesconset
Marital Status: Married
Kids: Arianna-14, Benjamin-13 and Stefani-10
Pets: 2 Pit bulls, Lily and Jeff
Occupation: Realtor/Fitness Instructor
Hobbies: Running, weight training; really anything fitness related, yoga (yes fitness related), meditating, cooking, crystals and learning to read tarot cards.
Current Town: Centereach

I first want to take a moment to thank Lou LaFleur for asking me to be WOTW and to all you Hillbillies for taking the time to read a little blip into my life. I have enjoyed every WOTW post, cried through a lot of them and am inspired by you all who so bravely share.

So here we go… I am a true Long Island girl who was born to two pretty incredible parents in 1978 (so retro). I have a younger sister, Ashley who unfortunately lives in Scottsdale with her family and will never consider the move back to this Island even though she knows it kills her older and wiser sibling 😩! I grew up in Nesconset and have always been proud of my Smithtown roots. My inquisitiveness as a child immediately drew people in. Speaking at a very early age, I commanded the attention of everyone around me. My earliest memory was standing on a little platform at the nursing home my Father was President/CEO of at the age of 1 ½ and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I also had a love for dance and can remember then dancing for the staff and residents as well.

At the age of 5, I almost lost my life to Bacterial Meningitis. It is still unclear how I got it. I was in a coma for days and was given a 40% chance of survival and most likely would have been deaf or blind if I made it through. This was the first time in my life I had to fight. After a month of being hospitalized, missing Kindergarten graduation and only getting to see my baby sister through the window in the playroom, I was sent home. For years after, I suffered major headaches that would blur my vision, have me pulling so hard on my hair just trying to get the pressure to stop and screaming from the pain. Through it all, I would still get up, go to school and smile.

I danced throughout most of my childhood, finding comfort in the music, costumes and emotional expression on stage. It was a creative outlet and allowed me to be me.

In middle school, something started to change in me. Yes, the typical ups and downs of teenage years were there, but my mood swings were more drastic in nature. I became very depressed trying to understand what was happening to me and always felt like the walls were closing in. The halls of Great Hollow Middle School were not friendly places for me either. I was bullied constantly by older girls who followed me into bathrooms, threw me into lockers and made my life a living hell on a daily basis. In addition I had to deal with the same torment from kids my own age. What could I have ever done to deserve any of this? I tried to push through, smile to hide the pain and act like nothing was wrong. Terrified to be there was more like it. My parents assured me it was jealousy and that girls at this age are nasty. But what could anyone possibly be jealous of? The lack of control lead me down the rabbit hole of self destruction. I developed an eating disorder that eventually landed me in an amblance on my way to the ER. It was a subconscious attempt at suicide. I just wanted the pain of people’s words and actions to stop. To this day if I see any of them, and I do see them (thanks Smithtown for being a town no one wants to leave), I am triggered back to that time. Middle School did however end on a high note. I grew a set of balls, forged forward and did not let my own head get in the way. It was during this time I also realized I liked to run…and run we did!

High School was a great time, meeting life long friends, cutting classes, getting in trouble, dating, learning to drive and just being a typical teen. My Senior year however did not start off the greatest. I began suffering severe panic attacks, not being able to be in crowded places and was depressed 24/7. After tests were run, not only did I find out I was suffering from Epstein Barr but I had extreme frontal lobe damage from Meningitis. This was what had caused my depression and anxiety for all these years. I spent the first half of the year, sleeping, trying to stay on top of school work and tried to get my life back on track. I eventually returned to school, experienced the remaining Senior year moments, graduated and headed off to SUNY Oneonta in the Fall of 96.’ GO RED DRAGONS! From what I remember, college was fun. Actually, I had too much fun, until September 27, 1997. The song Spin, Spin Sugar by Sneak Pimps blasted through the speakers of an apartment down town. Strobe lights were going and that’s when I decided to jump off the 2nd story balcony into party goers below. This was a common occurrence at parties, except people would get caught. I was scared when I went and didn’t jump out far enough. I fell almost 30 ft. on a 90 degree angle, landed on my head and felt my body break. At that moment I didn’t think I would survive. I remember saying good bye to my parents, apologizing for want I had done and and said, “I love you.” The last thing I heard was, “We’re losing her!” I was finally at peace. I may or may not have had an outter body experience, but there I was, with my grandpa who I lost at 16, standing above myself. Grandpa Artie and I were thick as thieves and a part of me died with him when he passed. Being in his presence again, I knew I would be ok.

I woke up in Albany Medical Center to my Dad and the peace I felt was completely gone. In days to come we found up that I fractured C 1-6 vertabre in my neck, I was ¼ inch away from severing my spinal cord and being completely paralyzed, I had a compression fracture of T 7-10 vertabre in my spine and lost 1 ½ inches of height. I completely shattered my left arm above the elbow down to my wrist and broke my upper ribs. We were told I would be hospitalized for a minimum of 3 months. That was a hard NO for me. I had them get me out of bed on day 4 after they braced me, I was released on day 8 and actually went back to school on day 11 (NOT SMART). The fight in me ensued and I wasn’t ready to just lay there and be done.

I went on to marry my ex and have 3 beautiful and amazing children. When my youngest Stefani was born I felt my family was complete. I had 3 babies, all under the age of 3 ½. I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom and loved every second of it. My Stefi always seemed a little different to me; like something was off. What happened at 10 months old is still surreal to me. On February 5, 2009, she was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. Now my entire family had to fight. Through Stefi’s chemo treatments and weekly visits to Sloan Kettering I became a robot. Doing what I had to do to save her life, being a mom to Arianna and Ben when I wasn’t in the hospital, trying to be a good wife and really just existing. I was in my head constantly and needed an escape. I decided to go for a run one day to clear my head. I was overweight, sleep deprived, angry and broken. I jog/walked for a mile. I was able to get one of my best to come join me. Jenn and I would run/walk often. It became therapy to me and helped return a smile to my face.

3 years into Stefani’s treatment my ex and I mutually agreed to divorce. I realized I had not been happy for years and life was definitely too short. We happen to be extremely lucky due to our co-parenting skills and much better relationship not being married.

2017 was an amazing year. On Sept. 24, I got to marry the man who changed it all for me. My husband Joey and I met in the cafeteria of our middle school in 1989. He was 2 years older, totally adorable with his mullet and gorgeous green eyes. Unlike my ex, he makes sure that my children see their mother cross finish lines, he supports everything I do and never makes me doubt myself. He’s been my biggest cheerleader, best friend and I am grateful to this man who stepped up and jumped 2 feet in to this shit show of a life I had. He will never fully realize the impact he has had on me. Annnnnnnnd on December 8, 2017, my daughter Stefani, after 8 years of on and off failed chemo treatments was declared CANCER FREE. A complete and utter miracle. I cry every time I think about how lucky I am to still have her. She shouldn’t have survived.

So I wouldn’t be here with you incredible people if it wasn’t for my good friend Michael Oliveri. He was brought to be through real estate but our love for running and his Selden Hills Warrior status brought myself and Rachel Emery Migliorino to the hills. I thought I was going to die!

I said it from day 1. There is something special about this group. I have been able to connect with so many and on our runs, gain knowledge about running, your lives, our common interests and what truly wonderful human beings you all are. I am blessed to be a part of this and thank you all for taking the time to read this extremely long post and gain some more insight into my crazy life. I’m excited for the rest of this week!