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Long Island communities rally to help family of young Sayville woman who died of cancer

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South Shore communities are showering their love and support on the family of a young Sayville woman who died on Saturday, Jan. 29, nearly six years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

By all accounts, Danielle Santiago, 37, was a compassionate woman with a radiant smile and a make-you-laugh-out-loud sense of humor.

Nicknamed “Red” for the color of her long locks, the 2002 Sayville High School graduate inspired countless relatives, friends and acquaintances with her grit, strength and composure as she waged an up-and-down war against cancer.

“She was an absolute ray of sunshine!”

Danielle Ortiz commented on a Facebook post memorializing Santiago.

The post referenced above was published by T.J. Finley’s, the Bay Shore bar and restaurant where Santiago had worked and made so many friends.

A GoFundMe page titled “Remembering ‘Red'” has raised $22,210 as of 8:30 a.m. on Sunday to help Santiago’s family with funeral expenses.

You can click here to donate to the fundraiser.

“We lost a friend and a member of our T.J. Finley’s family, but the world gained an angel,” reads the GoFundMe page organized by Andrew Dvorkin. “Danielle ‘Red’ Santiago is finally at peace. She was a warrior and an eternal optimist. She valued life and was stubborn in death. She is an inspiration.”

Her hard-fought battle

In 2016, Santiago was diagnosed with stage 2A breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction, and after starting cancer treatment, she was in remission, according to a 2020 GoFundMe page supporting her.

After being in remission for about two years, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver and bones.

Despite the diagnosis, and throughout her chemotherapy treatments, Santiago kept “a smile on her face” and fought “with everything she has,” friends said.

Funeral visitation services for Santiago will be held Monday, Jan. 31, from 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m. at Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Homes’ West Sayville location, 245 Main St.

Top photo: Facebook/T.J. Finley’s