A VERY Inspiring Young Woman - Meet Marissa

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a pretty amazing young woman through NuttZo! Another one of those times, when I LOVE the power of social media and who it connects you with. I knew after hearing her story and getting to know her, I wanted to share this young woman's journey with all of you. 

She is only 22...She has already battled cancer...She is strong, confident, inspiring, and mature beyond her years! She lives a healthy and active lifestyle that works for HER...makes her HAPPY...allows her to run far and strong! Did I mention she is only 22? Friends, I want to introduce you to Marissa. I hope that you will take the time today to get know her and her journey and be INSPIRED by this beautiful young woman! THANK YOU Marissa! XOXO

I am 22-year-old student who will soon graduate with a degree in Communications with a focus in Public Relations. I am very passionate about eating healthy, exercising, and doing what makes your heart happy. After I graduate college, I plan on working for a children's non-profit organization to help raise money and bring smiles to children with life-threatening illnesses. I was not sure what I wanted to do for a long time, but I finally decided after going on a journey I never expected to travel on. 

On May 24, 2012, at just 17 years-old, I was given news that would change my life forever. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. The cancer was located in my lower right calf (a tumor the size of a tennis ball), as well as in my bone marrow. After undergoing 54 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of Proton Therapy Radiation, I was declared cancer-free on July 10, 2013. My battle with cancer was not something I would want anyone to go through, but in the end, I am very thankful for cancer, because of what it has done for my life. 

I was still considered a child when I was diagnosed. This meant I got treated at my local children's hospital. Even though I was considered a child, I was fairly old compared to all the other children. I embraced my age and used it as guidance for myself and for other patients. Cancer brings many hard days for people, but I tried to push away all of those days and turn them into better ones by remaining posititve and keeping a smile. I have shared my story at multiple fundraisers with 300+ people for our hospital and other local non-profits in the area. I became the patient ambassador for cancer patients to help them cope with this awful disease. I was able to share a story that many fear to share. I also loved being bald because it showed people I was not afraid. My journey battling cancer is what led me to my future career and showed me what real strength, dedication, motivation, and passion was. 

I am now 3 years cancer free and living life to the fullest, but doing it in a whole and healthy way. I was healthy before I had cancer. I played lacrosse, soccer, and swam for my high school, and I was a half marathon runner. After being diagnosed though, I decided to take healthy to a whole new level and that is why I am surviving! Since finishing treatment, I have continued to run half marathons, as well as full ones. Running is an activity that I thoroughly enjoy and I am grateful that my body has allowed me to continue to do what I love. Cancer has also led me to live a much healthier lifestyle than I did before. I focus on eating foods that are natural to our bodies. and stys away from the products that my body does not recognize. I have followed a Whole30 lifestyle since May of 2015, and I am so thankful for the changes I have made. 

Living a lifestyle like this is not easy, but once you see the amazing results that come with it, it becomes easy. For me, focusing on a healthy lifestyle has brought self-confidence that I never had. I am a much better runner because of the way I eat. I truly feel 100% better both mentally and physically. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but its well worth it in the end. 

I conquered cancer, so I knew it was time to conquer something else and for me, it was living a healthy lifestyle and making it a daily routine. 

You can follow Marissa's journey on the below links:

Thank you Marissa, for sharing your story and inspiring so many people on a daily basis!