Deborah Armenti, chronicled her battle to live


In the spring of 1991, Deborah Armenti, 35, learned she had cancer. Defiantly, she wrote about it for The Evening Sun's Other Voices page:

"I wake up in the morning thinking about cancer and I go to bed thinking of cancer. I am terrified, and yet I go through the motions of an ordinary life. . . . My friends tell me how brave I am and how they admire my courage. Whenever I hear those words, I think about how I don't want to be brave; I want to be well."

She wrote again this April 9 that a year of treatment had not worked.

"It's like a lousy movie you can't walk away from," she said, adding that she was planning her funeral. But "I am not going to die today. Today I'll watch 'Perry Mason' on television. Today I'll read Nietzsche and Norman Vincent Peale. Today I'll eat spaghetti and green beans for dinner.

"Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is another day."

Ms. Armenti died Monday at Stella Maris Hospice at age 37. A service will be held for her today after a reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the A. Alan Seitz Funeral Home, 3818 Roland Ave.

Ms. Armenti was born July 8, 1955, at Fort Jackson, S.C., the daughter of Ralph E. and Elizabeth Toth. Raised at various Army bases, she graduated from Mannheim American High School in Mannheim, Germany, in 1973.

She met Robert J. Armenti at Kent State University in Ohio, from which she earned both bachelor's and master's degrees. They were married in 1980 and lived and worked in Washington, D.C., before moving to Charles Village in Baltimore in 1981.

She became a computer programmer and technical writer at USF&G; and was active in the Abell Improvement Association.

Shortly before she was laid off by USF&G; early in 1991, Ms. Armenti enrolled in the Weekend College of the College of Notre Dame.

"I still plan to change careers," she wrote in 1991. "I will do my student teaching in the fall, and I hope to become a high school math teacher like my husband."

Mr. Armenti said yesterday that his wife fulfilled her wish. She earned her Maryland teaching certificate and did her student teaching last fall at City College, "between chemotherapy sessions."

Besides her husband, of Baltimore, and parents, of Murphy, N.C., Ms. Armenti is survived by two children, Elizabeth and David; a brother, Edward Toth, of Gastonia, N.C.; and two sisters, Linda James of Clayton, Ga., and Beth Moyer of Oklahoma City.

The family suggested contributions could be made to an animal welfare or assistance organization.

Mike Bowler edits The Evening Sun's Other Voices page.

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