In addition, Mary wanted to participate in her treatment. She joined in clinical trials, research, conferences with doctors, etc., because she was eager to help medical science find a cure for her disease - not for herself, but for others.
"She told the doctors, 'I'm going to fight,' " said her daughter Phyllis Lacca.
From that initial diagnosis, Mary fought for nearly two years. She died Thursday at age 80. She lived in Penn Valley.
"She had an amazing life," her daughter said. "Her life was a party."
It was a party that featured the delicious Italian delicacies that Mary prepared for the numerous family gatherings. With seven children, all those grandchildren and great-grandchildren, siblings, nephews, nieces and cousins galore, there always seemed to be an occasion to celebrate.
A dark-haired beauty, Mary in her youth was often said to resemble Elizabeth Taylor.
Proud of her Italian heritage, Mary traveled frequently to Italy. Her favorite destination was the Island of Capri, where she enjoyed what is known there as "Capri time," meaning no time at all, especially for worries or the pressures of life on the mainland.
She also enjoyed other destinations in Europe and liked flying to Puerto Rico and other sites in the Caribbean, preferring the airplane to the cruise ship.
Mary was born in South Philadelphia to Arthur and Rose DiTullio. When her family moved to Overbrook, she attended Overbrook High School.
She married Benjamin J. "Benny" Lacca in 1955. They lived in South Philadelphia before moving to Penn Valley on the Main Line in 1967. Her husband, who died on Sept. 20, 2010, was an electronics distributor.
The couple also had homes in Ventnor, N.J., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Mary was devoted to the news, and would relate current events to family members who might have missed them. She also could have walked away with most of the prizes on her favorite game show, Wheel of Fortune, her daughter said.
Besides her daughter, she is survived by five other daughters, Darlene Lacca Iacoviello, Cindy Lacca Morris, Joy Lacca Gottih, Maria Lacca and Gina Lacca D'Alessandro; one son, John Lacca; a sister, Gloria Ramagli; two brothers, Thomas and Robert DiTullio; 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Services: 11 a.m. today at St. John Baptist Vianney Church, Youngsford and Conshohocken State roads, Gladwyne. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon.