Veronica Cappalonga has chosen not to fight against – but embrace the many challenges life has thrown her – through belief and faith. Being diagnosed at the age of 6 with cancer leukemia and in 2005 with brain cancer she was reminded many times that being a straight-A student is impossible. Throughout her life every time Cappalonga was told something is impossible, she made it possible.
In 2004 she majored in Liberal Arts at Santa Monica College and studied Communication with a minor in Leadership at the University of San Diego in the hopes of becoming a spokes person for children with cancer.
“Education assisted me to grow and it continues to help me expand my knowledge,” said Cappalonga who was interviewed by The Santa Monica Mirror through a series of hand gestures with the help and insight of her mother’s translation.
“That knowledge makes me realize that there is more than one way to reach your goals and dreams.”
When Cappalonga was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a multi-form of brain cancer, in 2005 she lost her speech and developed a weakness on the right side. Though only 9% of patients with glioblastoma live two years past diagnosis, an FDA approval earlier this year helped change her story.
In May 2009, the first biologic medicine for glioblastoma, Avastin (bevacizumab), was approved by the FDA and is providing patients like Cappalonga with the first new treatment option in 10 years. She has been taking this medicine for the past three years and is very thankful for its success. “Avastin has afforded her a better quality of life,” said her mother, Rocio.
While other children envisioned futures in ballet or veterinary, from an early age Cappalonga “was convinced that one day I will make a difference.”
In October 2005 after being diagnosed with brain cancer and undergoing surgery Cappalonga ‘s only wish was to be home for Thanksgiving. Though the hospital thought it impossible, she worked hard for a month in order to prove them wrong.
“She walked in our home on Thanksgiving day,” said Rocio. “That kind of spirit has carried her throughout her whole life. She sets goals for herself and writes them down where she can see them.”
The holidays will bring many joys to young Cappalonga’s family and especially to her. “Suffering is not a part of my being. I will take one step at a time, always keeping my dreams in focus. The experience of Christmas can be everyday and I am proud of my life.”
An avid swimmer, Cappalonga is preparing for the Paralympics in 2012. Her list of goals has always reflected the spirit with which she embraces challenges and then lives in a world full of new possibilities. Her next wish is health.
“Allow yourself to open your heart, look inside and believe you can do it,” Cappalonga said.
Contact Marrisa Bojiuc