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Finding the Beauty in Scars: Meet 2016 Recipient Jennifer Canaria


"Whether they are literal scars or figurative ones, our scars remind us how much stronger and how lucky we are that we conquered this tough fight." - Jennifer


If there is one thing in the world you could change, what would it be and how would you do it?

That there is more of a show of open-mindedness and tolerance for people different from us. Showing an open mind to others whose plight we may not understand, allows us to create an environment of acceptance that hopefully leads to empathy and less violence.


By slowly introducing yourself to people or activities that is outside of our bubble would be a good way to invite diversity in our lives. Forcing yourself to be open to the opinion of others by truly listening to them would allow for personal growth. 


Where do you see yourself 5 years after graduation?

I will be a practicing Occupational Therapist in a pediatric hospital helping children and their parents regain the life that injury or illness took from them.


Why did the chicken cross the road?

So that it can run free in the farm


What makes you happy?

Spending time with people who love me even on my worst days


What type of cancer were you diagnosed with and when?

Stage IIIA Breast Cancer in 2010


How did the diagnosis of cancer rock your world?

Losing a sense of myself without the independence that I had before. Having to rely on others more than I usually do showed me the meaning of humility and gratitude.


Describe the process of getting back into life after treatment.

The process of readjustment and acceptance of my new life after cancer took some time, but with the help of friends and family, the transition of accepting my new body and my new outlook, gave me a new lease on life that I can only be thankful for.


How has overcoming cancer made you stronger?

Stronger in ways that I know that life throws us curveballs and we can either get hit time and again or learn to maneuver ourselves so we get smarter and malleable.


Many people aren’t familiar with the financial, physical, and emotional toll when treatment is over.  Describe your process of recovery after treatment spiritually, emotionally, and financially.

My spirituality played a big role in how I handled my emotions and to some degree my finances. Being a Christian and knowing that Christ “has my back” allowed me to worry less about the days to come. The trust I placed in the Lord that whatever happens is His will, calmed me, and allowed me to stress less about the changes that are happening. Financially, having the help of my mother who researched many groups and organizations to help share the financial strain of treatment gave me less time to worry about having to pay for it all. Being able to access scholarships and other funding removed much of the financial burden.


What does it mean to have a support community during cancer treatment?

The support given to me was tremendous in that I would not have literally conquered all the emotional trauma without those who knew what I was going through or just those who would do anything to help. From meals being made, to helping clean the house, to those who take me to the movies to get away from it all, gave me the strength I needed to push through.



What does it mean to receive scholarship money to help you achieve your academic goals?

Making the decision to go back to school after years from graduating was very frightening. The leap of faith I took to move across the country to immerse myself in an environment that is foreign to me, took so much courage, and also money. Having a scholarship helps to keep my mind at ease that I can pursue my dreams without having to worry about whether I can stay in the program because I cannot afford to pay for books.


How has the MHH scholarship helped you?

The MHH scholarship will help me do well in the Occupational Therapy program without the stress of how I will pay for rent, books, and other bills that would only hinder in my success of completing the program.


Top 3 things you are grateful for since remission.

A more positive outlook in life.

Being more empathetic than I ever was.

Bras that help me look decent in clothes without having real breasts to fill them.


Top 3 life goals (places you’d like to visit, things you want to do, etc.)

I would like to retire my parents. They are getting older and should not be working anymore

I would like to get married and have a family of my own someday

I want to go to New Zealand and visit where they shot Lord of the Rings


Advice for other young adult cancer survivors.

Don’t be ashamed of the scars that cancer leaves behind. Whether they are literal scars or figurative ones, our scars remind us how much stronger and how lucky we are that we conquered this tough fight.


Biggest take-away(s) from your cancer experience.

The biggest take-away is to relax and take it easy. Worrying will not help improve any situation. Work hard and always do your best and the rest will take care of itself.


Words to live by.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.



More info on Jennifer's Hero Powers here.

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Want to sponsor a scholarship for a future MHH recipient? Learn more and take on the SCHOLAR SQUAD CHALLENGE. - See more at: