Hi, I’m Mario and I was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer stage IV at sixteen. I was required to be on a rigorous 60-week clinical trial treatment plan that consisted of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. After my treatments ended in June 2008, remaining tumors were on my lungs. November 2008 the tumors were surgically removed, and found to be benign. I have had a total of eight surgeries, my final two on March 6, 2009.

I remember my doctors telling me that I may not make it; I decided then that I was going to beat cancer. In the beginning cancer debilitated me; I lost 35lbs and the use of my feet and legs. I was unable to walk for a while. My chemotherapy treatments were very intense, and after trying different medications, I was able to use my feet and legs but having to use a cane. It was very difficult for me to not be able to walk or run. For three years my independence had been stripped away from me. People looked at me differently. I was not just a normal kid but also a sixteen-year-old with cancer.

I was unable to attend the end of my sophomore year of high school as well as my entire junior and senior years. Being confined to the homebound program where I was dependant on a tutor to help me with my studies. My homebound instructors were not getting my work to me in a timely fashion or teaching me anything so I conceded, and realized that I was working for my present, and also for my future; I began to self-educate myself.

This is when my journey started; I learned that although this was a tumultuous experience for me it taught me how to persevere. I realized that life is not always fair and this was a lesson I was glad to learn sooner rather then later. Cancer has helped to shape me into the person that I am today. It taught me to embrace my weaknesses as well as my strengths.

I have a new appreciation for life and I do not take a single birthday for granted; I celebrated my Golden 19th birthday on October 19, 2009, and I look forward to many more! I have learned to reach for my goals and to press through even when times are hard because tomorrow is a new day. The most significant discovery is to never give up no matter how bad your situation may seem because you never know who will benefit from your testimony. I have come to learn that life is what you make it. One person can make a difference and that person can be me!