When doctors diagnosed seven year old Shanna Decker with stage four bone cancer, everything changed for her and her family. The little girl from Minnesota faced months of chemotherapy, losing her left leg through a procedure similar to amputation and rehabilitation so she could learn to move like a typical child again.
After surviving Shanna’s fight with cancer, the Deckers – renewed with gratitude and understanding – put their hearts into giving back to the community. The family frequently visits patients and amputees of all ages and Shanna’s mom, who recently retired from her career, serves as Vice President for Brighter Tomorrows, a nonprofit organization that provides outreach to families touched by childhood cancer. Shanna’s sister even designed Shanna’s personal website.
“My parents want to give back to these people. They understand what they are going through because they went through it,” Shanna said. “It’s definitely a family affair.”
Shanna, now 20, is currently in her junior year of college at Winona State University in Minnesota studying business administration and the management of information systems. Due to her medical bills and physical therapy expenses, however, Shanna says she was originally unsure she would even be able to go to college – until she won a $25,000 scholarship from the Discover Scholarship Program.
The Discover Scholarship Program annually recognizes high school juniors who demonstrate excellence in community service and leadership and have faced a significant challenge in their lives.
“The Discover scholarship allowed me to go to college and at the same time, continue my volunteer work and build a speaking career,” Shanna said. “Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to pursue my dreams because I need a college education to do so.”
Through her speaking engagements and volunteer work for Brighter Tomorrows, Shanna joins her family in their ongoing commitment to helping families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis and hopes to one day establish her own nonprofit organization – a retreat set in peaceful surroundings which will allow families to support and spend time with one another while their loved one undergoes cancer treatment. Shanna’s other dreams include working at the Mayo Clinic, where she received treatment as a child, and publishing her first book.
To learn more about Shanna and her amazing story, visit her website www.becauselovewins.com.