September is childhood cancer awareness month. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, cancer is the No. 1 cause of death by disease for kids in America.
When she was 18, Bianca Maderal was diagnosed with stage 3 multifocal anaplastic astrocytoma.
The brain cancer diagnosis changed Bianca’s life, but it did not define it.
"Cancer has taught me a lot. I am not thankful for cancer but I am thankful for what it has taught me,” she said.
While undergoing multiple surgeries and treatments, Bianca founded Fight Like a Kid, an organization that provides care packages to kids in hospitals battling cancer.
"It was actually my therapy. Instead of going to a psychologist or having psychologists come to see me at the hospital I opened Fight Like a Kid,” she said.
Bianca organizes several drives and events each year. This month she worked with local schools. Student volunteers prepared baskets for cancer patients in South Florida hospitals.
The baskets are available for kids of all ages. They have items such as stuffed animals, gift cards, and blankets.
"The students write little notes sometimes and they throw it inside the baskets to encourage and motivate the patients at the hospital. When they see that other kids, other healthy kids, are helping them through their roughest times, being sick and facing death it helps them to know that they are not alone,” Maderal said.
For the September drive, Bianca received more than 1,000 basket donations.
Bianca is now 23. She is overjoyed she is a cancer survivor, but she knows all too well she must continue her fight for other children still undergoing the most difficult days of their lives.
"Never give up, be hopeful, always have a positive mindset, and of course to show cancer that it is cancer's turn to be afraid," she said.
The next Fight Like a Kid drive will be during Thanksgiving. If you'd like to donate or volunteer, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.