WYOMISSING, Pa. — Giovanna DeLima is many things: a student at Penn State Berks, a daughter, a friend, a volunteer — and a cancer survivor. She was recently invited to be the featured speaker at the American Cancer Society's "The Future of Cancer Care Forum: Advancing Cancer Research, Innovation, and Health Equity" on Dec. 2, at the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square in New York.
She explains that her physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center wrote an article about the clinical trial that she completed and about her story. Then she was invited to be the featured speaker at the forum.
DeLima, a native of Washington, New Jersey, was only eight years old when she was first diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer, a type of cancer usually found in adults. She said that she was the first child in the tri-state area to be diagnosed.
Now, at the age of 21, she is virtually cancer-free, thanks to a clinical trial she completed at MSK. She explains that she underwent surgery during her first year at Penn State Berks and she continued treatment in her second year.
She stated that there were two points that she wanted to stress during her talk: That it’s important for insurance companies to understand the importance of biomarker testing, and that cancer is not just the patient’s journey — it’s also the journey of the patient’s family and friends.
“My mom is a huge part of my journey," she added. “We were definitely a team, and we still are.”
DeLima hasn’t let cancer slow her down. She is a special events coordinator for Berks Benefitting THON, the college’s student chapter of THON — the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. She is also a first-year mentor, a Lion Ambassador, and the secretary for Caring Conversations, a student organization.
Currently a junior at Berks, DeLima plans to complete her baccalaureate degree in journalism at Penn State University Park campus next year.
“Because of the clinical trials and because of the treatments that MSK had, I get to live my best life and be at Penn State and live my dream and advocate for the [THON] kids and do all the things I never thought in a million years I could do.”