Posted: Jun 14, 2012 8:27 AM by Carina Corral
Updated: Jun 14, 2012 9:11 PM
A Nipomo High School graduate is setting off on Sunday to travel, but Melinda Marchiano is not going on a tropical vacation before starting college in the fall.
As a cancer survivor it was her wish to visit children's hospitals along the west coast and earlier this week her wish was granted.
As it has for so many children with life threatening diseases, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties came through for Melinda.
"We're going to be in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and back south," Melinda said of her itinerary that Wish Granters, along with the Chi Omega Cal Poly Sorority who helped fund this trip, presented to Melinda on Tuesday.
During her month-long, six-state Tour of Hope, she and her mother will visit seven children's hospitals.
Already four years removed from her own cancer treatments, Melinda thought long and hard about her wish because she wanted to make it count. "I have this opportunity to make this one wish and to make it so it would just influence me I feel like, personally, that would be a waste of my wish."
Instead, she hopes to inspire others from own experience.
At age 13, Melinda was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
While going through four rounds of chemo, she also had a cancer survivor visit her in the hospital.
"I, hopefully, can do that same thing for them, giving them that kind of light at the end of the tunnel," said Melinda.
She herself is a bright light. She shines on stage as an accomplished dancer, off stage as an award-winning, published author for the book 'Grace' she wrote about her cancer experience and now a childhood cancer advocate.
Melinda and her mother embarked on a similar journey last summer visiting children's hospitals on the east coast.
Come fall, Melinda will attend Pepperdine University. She said she eventually wants to become a pediatric oncologist, bringing her cancer experience full circle.