Realizing Futures

2017 PCRF Scholarship Awardee: Dante

Each one of our 2017 PCRF Scholarship Awardees has a unique story to tell. Stories about strength, resilience, and overcoming adversity. Stories that continue after a cancer diagnosis.

2017 Scholarship Awardee: Dante

We’d like you to meet Dante, a young man who has a bright future ahead of him and doesn’t take one second of his life for granted.


“My name is Dante H. Guzman and I was seven years old when I was diagnosed with Myxopapillary Ependymoma, a type of tumor that arises from the central nervous system. When I was seven years old, my back was hurting so much that I could not sleep on my back. The pain was so severe that I fainted and my mother immediately took me to the hospital. An MRI concluded I had tumors in my spine that needed to be removed promptly.

After surgery, doctors discovered the tumor was malignant and it was Stage 4 cancer. I needed chemo and radiation to make certain it did not reoccur. 

Two months into recovery and after a routine MRI, the radiation oncologist found more tumors in my upper spine. I went into surgery once more. This would occur five more times. The last surgery was the greatest pain of all. Doctors found tumors as many as nine in my brain, but only one could be successfully removed. 

After ten years, five surgeries, over 100 days of radiation, and eighteen months of chemotherapy, I am doing very well in high school. I’m able to walk, ride my bike, be independent and live a plentiful life every single day. I still struggle with the consequences of surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, I see life differently than most teenagers. As a child, I endured so much physical pain and I have come so far that nobody who doesn’t have cancer would understand. 

I have lived a path of many obstacles such as needing physical therapy for my balance. I also struggle with double-vision, but I am still able to get myself to school every day without excuses.

Many young people my age have a healthy life and take for granted their daily routines. I’m happy to just be able to eat, bathe and do my homework. 

The journey of having cancer has not been easy. I can’t say it’s a blessing to have cancer, but it has certainly made my point of view towards life much brighter. I value every single day of life that I have and every single person in my life. I’m grateful to my mom for being there for me every single day at the hospital. Every single treatment, doctor appointment and MRI, scans and all the appointments I’ve had. She has never left my side.

I want to be someone admirable in this life. I want to be an example to many that no matter what life gives you, you can make it through all obstacles. No matter what you have been through, a positive mind always prevails. 

I want to be that person that makes something good of himself and encourages others to do the same. I want to make my mother proud by being a strong, independent, and commendable man to society.”

You have the power to help kids, like Dante, live a life beyond their cancer diagnosis. Help us continue our fight to find a cure.

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When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change. – Annette Funicello