By: Kane, Valley Patriot Mascot – June, 2021
Battle Grounds Coffee Company in Haverhill was a buzz on Saturday, May15th in anticipation of their honored guest Angela Tita Antonopoulos who everyone knows as Tita. Friends, Family, and patrons of Battle Grounds Coffee Company gathered in this Haverhill Hotspot to surprise their friend Tita to celebrate her remission from an aggressive battle with cancer.
Tita swept into the party with an air of confidence and a warm heart pleased to have her “Haverhill Village” around her where she had the opportunity to ring the bell symbolizing entrance back into daily living without the physical and emotional interruption of cancer treatment. Coffee shop owner Dana DeFranco had gone all out to create a trellis of balloons and a welcoming environment for her guest of honor. Standing by was the Haverhill Fire Department who provided the dazzling bell (pictured below) for Tita to achieve her dream of ringing the sound of freedom from cancer into the air.
Dana had this to say when asked about the coordinating and hosting this event, “I knew Tita from community events, but not personally. I followed her cancer journey on social media and admired her strength and courage. When I saw her disappointment when she was told she was unable to ring the ceremonious bell upon on her last treatment I decided I would create one. Battle Grounds was created to celebrate milestones like this; we are a space for our community. So, I contacted the Haverhill Fire Dept, connected with mutual friends who reached out to Tita’s friends and family to ensure all those who love Tita were there to witness and encourage her ringing the biggest & prettiest bell Haverhill has to offer!”
Tita was pleased to be interviewed about her recovery journey with the hope that her experience could help and provide support to others battling cancer. Tita explained, “I decided to share my story in hopes that others would get checked. It is so important to know your body. If I did not pay attention to my body, then I would have gotten a different diagnosis.
Tita stated; “When I was first diagnosed on April Fool’s Day 2020, I just lost it. I thought that I was having a nightmare and that I needed to wake up. I also decided that I was not going to be anyone’s victim. I was not going to be embarrassed that I got cancer. There are so many people that are ashamed. Why? It is not as if I got cancer because of something that I did. I didn’t say “oh, why me”. Well why not me? I have been through so much in my life that losing to cancer was just not an option. I kept telling myself that I would see my son graduate High School. I will see him grow up and be an amazing man.
In response to asking Tita how she stayed motivated during her journey, she has this to say. “Well, that was a tough one. I went through all kinds of emotions while having treatment. There were some days that it was really hard to get out of bed. I remembered something that one of the specialists at Dana Farber told me. “You are allowed to be sad for 30 minutes a day, after that it becomes counterproductive”. I really kept telling myself that. I am also a single parent to an amazing special needs child that needs me. I had to try to be as positive around him as possible. Some days were so much more challenging than others. I also had a FANTASTIC village around me. My family, my friends and just hearing feedback from others helped me.
Tita emphasized she hoped her interview would provide hope to someone battling cancer. In response to asking her how to support someone recently diagnosed, she stated, “I would tell someone that just got diagnosed, do whatever YOU need to do to get through the day. Feel that emotion, yell, scream whatever you need. Then when you are done, Get up and fight! Don’t give in. I am not saying that it will be easy, because it will suck 99% of the time. You will get on the other side.
I developed my routine, especially on chemo days. After my surgery, my village was there to help me with my son. During radiation, my village was also there.”
Today we celebrate both Tita’s rémission from a battle with cancer and an example of a community coming together to celebrate. Haverhill certainly has their thumb on fostering a sense of community. Once again Battle Ground Coffee Company hosts a place to gather, serve their community, and recognize their patrons’ struggles and accomplishments. Isn’t this what it should be about. Thank you, Dana DeFranco and Salvatore DeFranco, for knowing the importance of creating a supportive village.
And Tita, well she has already hit the ground running. Loving her family, servicing her community, and running her business. Tita is no stranger to servicing the Haverhill Community herself. She serves on the Planning Committee for Haverhill Restaurant Week, Haverhill Cultural Council, Planning Committee for Winning Opportunities for Woman, Team Leader for the Jimmy Fund, Soul Cocktail with Tita, and running her business Olive Drop Management. ◊