An Inspirational Story About the C Word

We all know somebody who threw up fists in a fight they never wanted to pick, a fight against that nasty C-word – Cancer. It’s an unfair battle that many people lose. However, my friend and fellow pageant sister Shana Pawlowicz is one who came out victorious. She has used her high heels and tennies to not enter another one-on-one fight with the enemy, but to enlist the help of other to start a war against cancer.

I asked Shana to share her story here on OnceAmonth4Ladies…from one lady to many others.


My name is Shana Pawlowicz and from glance I’m sure there are a couple of things most people could probably assume right about me. I’m a total girly girl and that fact accompanies my mass amount of pink accessories and big blingy jewelry.  I’ve recently become a long distance runner, this can easily be picked up by the hobble most people have been seeing me roam around with as my calves and well every part of my body have become sore from 10 mile plus runs. I’m super outgoing, my parents must have forgotten to instill the whole notion of don’t talk to strangers because well frankly it’s one of my favorite things to do! But one thing about me that most people usually can’t pick up at first glance is that I am a cancer survivor.

While cancer has always been a lurking disease in my lifetime, having on both sides of my family- aunts, cousins and uncles diagnosed with various kinds, it was honestly something I never thought I would have to deal with first hand. This belief, the common belief that it can happen to others-not me though, is something that sadly becomes too common and we keep a blind eye until we too have to face it.

After being diagnosed with Thyroid cancer 5 years ago my life was immediately turned upside down.  I went through two surgeries and fortunately did not have to undergo any chemotherapy! I am safe and healthy today and just go in to make sure my medicine (which replaces what my thyroid use to do) is at the right levels. While I knew about the terrible disease and how devastating it could be, it wasn’t until my own diagnosis that I was able to see firsthand just how important programs are that help not only educate people on what they can do to prevent their own diagnosis but also programs that help ease the mind and soul once you hear those terrible words “you have cancer”.

I was a college student and one that was not insured. My mother does not live in the state and my father being a veteran is covered by the government. Being a normally “healthy” college student, or so I thought, I wasn’t all too worried about not being covered. That was until my diagnosis came, and shortly after the mass amounts of bills. Even for those who are covered by insurance, there are tons of out of pocket costs that occur and build up while you are trying to fight for your life. It wasn’t until I began volunteering with the American Cancer Society, that I began to learn of programs that they provide like gas cards to help ease the cost of traveling to doctors’ appointments, or free lodging with their Hope Lodges to help you have a safe and close place while getting treatments, or even something that may seem so small but truly makes a different in ones spirit like their Look Good Feel Better Program that helps provide a free wig to anyone in need. These things may seem small, but in a world where everything is coming down on you, that one “small” thing makes all the difference in the world. The one moment you can spend staring in the mirror back at a brilliant brunette wig you now have, seeing the woman you remember you were before this terrible diagnosis, a shadow or glimpse into what it will again be like once you get through this.

I am proud to say I am now able to work full time with the American Cancer Society, and the people I get to meet each week continue to amaze me. I am thankful for my health and being thankful for your health means more than just smiling and thanking doctors, it means truly taking a look at how you plan on returning the favor that so many of your friends and family and often times strangers partook on you as they helped you through your battle. This idea of giving back has always been a part of me and this is the reason why I have decided to challenge myself and celebrate my big 5 year cancer free anniversary by running my very first half marathon!

 Now for anyone who is not familiar a half marathon is a whopping 13.1 miles. For anyone that doesn’t know how far that really is-get in your car, trust me it’s long! Not only has this been very physically demanding, more importantly it has been emotionally rewarding because on May 27th, I will be running with thousands of people but even better I will be running with over 50 other runners there for the same cause- we are running for a purpose, our miles are dedicated to those who have battled cancer. I will pin a ribbon on my jersey for each person who has touched my life and has been touched by cancer. Some of these pins represent people who will be there cheering me on, and some of these people sadly will be cheering me on from up above. So far I have raised almost $1200 towards finding a cure and helping patients with programs that are free of cost to them in their time of need. I’m hoping to raise $1500 by next weekend. But my biggest goal, is to truly live in the moment and know that we don’t change lives by just admiring someone’s passion, we change lives by being inspired and finding our own charge to get just as involved!  Find your charge and live your life-when you really start to do that, do me a favor? Pass it on!

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