Meet Michele, a forever 24-year-old cancer warrior that was taken too soon. Just by looking at Michele’s social media, you could tell that she loved to live life. She loved traveling, especially to the beach. Michele fought a three year battle with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). The cancer was initially found in her forearm in 2013. In the fall of 2014 she relapsed. In the final year of her cancer journey, she was referred to another oncologist who tried a new chemotherapy that seemed to be working for a short time from February to June of 2016.
While Michele was at work, her mom, Valeria got the call. It was Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:34pm and it was 72 hours after Michele’s biopsy. Michele was at work and I got the diagnosis over the phone. She said, “I couldn’t believe it. I called my family, friends, and Michele’s dad. They all came over and we decided to let Michele just come home from work and then tell her. I was a total wreck, so her dad sat her down and gave her the news”, Valeria remembers.
The first battle with cancer consisted of ten and a half months of three chemotherapies weekly, and every third week all three chemotherapies were inpatient. The second battle with cancer consisted of eight and a half months of three chemotherapies with the first week inpatient and then weekly outpatient chemotherapies. Through her cancer journey, Michele had six surgeries.
During her fight, she continued college and graduated from University of Connecticut with a BA in Psychology, minoring in Women’s Studies. She held a 3.74 GPA and was the Magna Cum Laude with high honors. She even started graduate school for her Master’s degree in Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University. She wanted to prove that, “yes, I have cancer; but cancer doesn’t have me”, as she would state on her Facebook page.
Michele passed away on September 28, 2016. She once wrote on a Facebook post, “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” She continues to be an inspiration to those closest to her with her #TeamM Facebook page.
For more information about RMS: https://www.acco.org/sarcomas/
To donate to ACCO: https://www.acco.org/donate/