Posted: Aug 13, 2010 9:30 AM by Carina Corral
Updated: Aug 13, 2010 9:00 PM
She is an award-winning author, a dedicated dancer and a cancer survivor.
And she is only 16-years-old.
Nipomo teenager Melinda Marchiano is being honored this weekend at the American Cancer Society's Annual Fundraising Gala and there is no wonder why.
Melinda has always gracefully danced her way through what ever life has thrown at her.
" No matter how crazy my life got I could go to dance and have an awesome time," said Melinda.
And did her life get crazy.
On December 18, 2007, at the tender age of 13, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
" I had a 13 x 9 centimeter mass, which is about yay big, in my chest cavity," Melinda described as she held her hands together to reference the size of a grapefruit.
Enough to bring a grown man to his knees, this ballerina got up on her toes.
" I danced through treatment, when I could, bald. I joked it made me more aerodynamic."
Melinda joked and danced her way through four rounds of chemo and three weeks of radiation.
When we asked her how she feels about being cancer free, she could hardly contain herself.
"Awesome!!!! Yay!! If I wasn't sitting down, I'd be jumping right about now... I just find myself grateful everyday. Every second of everyday."
Now that she has survived it, she wants to help others through it.
" I didn't go, 'Okay, I want to write a book.' I just started writing, but gradually I had so many spiral notebooks filled that I said, 'hey maybe I have something going.'"
She certainly does have 'something' going.
Her memoir titled "Grace" won an international book award and has received praise from the likes of Lance Armstrong, Ray Romano and Jeff Foxworthy.
At 16, she has already accomplished what few will in a lifetime and she is just getting started.
"I plan on becoming a doctor and author all in one. A doctor, write books, keep dancing. I have plans."
And she will do it all with amazing grace.
Melinda did not mention this during her interview, but she is also a pianist (there is video of her on YouTube serenading nurses in the hospital while undergoing chemo), she is a pageant beauty queen (crowned 2009 Miss Jr. Teen Santa Barbara and Miss Congeniality) and is academically at the top of her high school class.
Modest and courageous.
Tickets to Sunday's American Cancer Society's Annual Gala Fundraising event at Tolosa Winery are still available.