Warrior. Kind. Courageous. Caring. Quiet. These are just some of the words friends and family used to describe long-time Gardiner resident Katrina “Trina” Stiscia, who recently lost her battle to cancer.
“Trina was one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever known,” long-time friend Eileen Seabolt said.
Davilee Deal, Trina’s sister, said Trina knew everyone’s birthday and never forgot any special occasion. She loved to buy birthday cards to send to anyone and everyone.
She was quiet and reserved, at least until you got to know her.
“She was good at giving zingers,” Seabolt said. “She could be very straight-faced, and she would say something and leave you totally cracked up.”
Trina was also courageous and strong, battling cancer nearly one-third of her life before finally succumbing to her disease.
She was a breast cancer survivor, a long, painful ordeal. However, she eventually beat that first bout of cancer, and remained cancer-free for 12 years.
Then, Trina developed Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer typically seen in young adults. She struggled with the disease for two and half years before passing away on March 4.
Even in the midst of her painful cancer treatments, she worried about the people around her before herself.
Seabolt said when she was experiencing a health crisis of her own at the end of last year, she kept it from her friend, at least at first. When Trina found out, she showed up at Seabolt’s door a half hour later with a bouquet of flowers in her hand.
“So here this woman is fighting for her life, and she’s worried about me,” Seabolt said. “That’s who Trina was.”
Her husband, Brian Stiscia, and Deal stood by Trina’s side while she was sick. Even then, she was worried about how her husband and sister were holding up.
“She’s worried about what we’re going through,” Brian said. “What we’re going through? That’s nothing compared to what you’re going through.”
The couple’s friends were their biggest support through all of Trina’s cancer treatments, providing rides to Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hope Lodge, where she resided for three months, and to Fishkill Hematology and Oncology and Hudson Valley Hospice.
For Brian and Trina, their greatest support in life was each other. Trina was a toll collector on the New York State thruway for 30 years. Brian is Gardiner’s assistant fire chief and superintendent of highway, which means working long and odd hours, missing meals, working holidays and giving up vacations.
Trina stuck by her husband through thick and thin, never complaining or discouraging him from his job. Instead, she encouraged him.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” Brian said.
Trina met Brian while cruising the streets of New Paltz with her sister and best friends. As the story goes, Trina was in the car when the girls pulled up next to the car containing her future husband at a stop light.
The girls ran a Chinese fire drill, got back into the car, and sped off. When Brian and his friends went to a local pizzeria, they found the girls who ran the Chinese fire drill sitting at a table.
He thought Trina was cute, so he tried to ask her out. It took a few tries on Brian’s part and some prodding from Tina’s mom to finally get Tina to officially go out with him.
“The fairytale started that way,” Brian said.
The two celebrated their 38th anniversary before Tina passed away.
“She was just one-in-a-million,” Brian said.
Donations in Katrina’s memory may be made to Hope Lodge, 132 W. 32nd Street, NY, NY 10001, or to the Gardiner Fire Department, P.O. Box 271, Gardiner, NY 12525. Online condolences may be left for the family of Katrina by visiting www.copelandfhnp.com.