One story and organization I hold so dear to my heart. Long post, but for a great cause! Any donations and support is appreciated and we need your help- click the link to learn about how I am giving back---- 

Donate to my fundraiser here

When my mom was 5 weeks pregnant with me, the doctors delivered the news that she had breast cancer, and in order for her to survive she needed to terminate the pregnancy. My parents refused, and they told the doctors that if this baby girl was meant to be in their lives she will be. The doctors again warned my parents of the 10% chance I would survive, and if I did that there were high risks of me having a mental disability, development issues with me not being able to walk, along with other health complications. 

22 weeks later, it was time for the delivery in order for my mom to start her chemo that next morning. I was born 3 months early weighing only 1 pound. By the Grace of God… my mom was soon cancer free and my parents had a functioning, healthy, baby girl. Doctors and nurses couldn't believe it. Now at 24 years old, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, an athlete, a grad student headed to doctorate school with no conditions or limitations the doctors once predicted. I am doing things doctors once said I will never be able to do. A true miracle. 

Saying my mom is a warrior is truly an understatement. Years later after her first diagnosis, the doctors found a second lump in her other breast. Needless to say, she didn't let the cancer win this time either. A two time breast cancer survivor and a determined woman who never gave up. The one who loves so hard and never stops putting others before herself. The one who constantly pushes me and keeps me strong when I feel weak. 

In times of struggle, I look to her for clarity. When I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in college, recovery was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. When I turned 22, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Lupus and in 2018, I found out I had Celiac Disease. There are days where I want to quit and I feel too tired to fight, but I turn to my mom for inspiration. She remained strong and fought every step of the way. Did she do that by throwing in the towel? No. No matter how hard it got, she didn’t stop. She was and still is always fighting the good fight. 

So when things get messy or difficult, I refuse to quit on myself or others. This is where I am reminded that I inherited my strength from her. If she can conquer her obstacles we can too, friends. I am forever fighting for my health as well as for others because in this world we stand stronger together. So mom, thank you for never giving up on me from the start and this is for you! 

Now is my time to give back in hopes to help other women struggling with cancer. To remind them of their strength when they feel weak. To encourage them to keep going because they are fearless and courageous. That they are never alone. To be a helping hand when I can be because there is hope for a cure. And miracles DO happen. Each day is never guaranteed. So love always and make sure you hold the ones you love close and never let them go.

Megan Panzanella