Jun 7, 2011 11:57 AM by Carina Corral

Teenaged cancer survivor and published author adds more to her list of accomplishments

Nipomo teenager Melinda Marchiano grew up on the stage as an accomplished dancer, but last month the 16-year-old was in a different kind of spot light in New York City at the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards.

"I made an acceptance speech and I just remember being so overwhelmed and so excited," said Melinda.

Her memoir, "Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery," took home the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book (non-fiction).

As if that was not enough, she has also been selected as one of just 250 Livestrong leaders worldwide whose goal is to make cancer a priority in their own community. Melinda's goal is to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

"I'm in the process of planning children for Livestrong on Livestrong Day, which will be in October, and we're hoping it'll be bigger and better than before," she said.

Melinda does not just support the cause, she has lived it.

At just 13-years-old she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. She had a tumor the size of a grapefruit removed from her chest cavity and underwent four rounds of chemotherapy.

You would never know it by watching her practice her dance routine in her class at Nipomo High School.

"I'm feeling really, really good! I've been dancing like crazy, two shows, auditions, rehearsals. I'm doing really well physically and I'm really happy and just enjoying life."

After graduating next year, Melinda hopes to attend Stanford University, major in biochemistry and double major in dance.

But before all that, her book is a up for yet another award, ForeWord Book of the Year.

She and her mother plan to travel to New Orleans next week for the ceremony and along the way they plan to visit children's hospitals to talk with kids undergoing treatment.

"For both of us, this trip is about is helping children with cancer," said Melinda's mother, Lee Marchiano.

While in New York, Melinda's book also picked up a silver medal for the Independent Publisher Award. She and her mother started up the publication company Happy Quail.

Last year, it won an international book award, as well.


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