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“I Fought Cancer, and Won!”

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To see freshman Alison Ziniti laugh with her friends and walk through Adams, one would never guess that just four years ago she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She has been in remission since 2011. Ziniti explains that although she classifies that time in her life as having been the hardest she has endured, with the love and support of her friends and family, she was able to overcome her illness.

Allie Ziniti will not soon forget August 3, 2009.  The two years prior, she had extreme joint pains that came and went randomly. She said that the doctors were not sure about what to do. They sent Ziniti’s bone marrow to Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital, where they diagnosed her with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of a type of white blood cells.

“When my mom told me, I thought Leukemia was a flu,” said Ziniti. “When she told me it was cancer, before I even cried, the immediate question I asked was if I was going to die. When my mom said no, and explained the process and what we had to do, I was just agreeing. I was too much in shock to even think about what she was saying. I thought, Ok. Let’s do this. I was terrified.”

Allie was unable to attend school during her fifth and sixth grade years due to her illness. Her friends gave her all they could- their unconditional support and everlasting friendship.

“I have many memories from when Allie was sick,” said freshman Grace Lee. “For some reason the memory that sticks out the most to me is when I visited her in the hospital. I remember being nervous, because I didn’t know how Allie would feel when I got there, but as usual, Allie had a smile on her face. We played cards for a long time and as we played, we started to laugh extremely loud. The nurse came in and had to quiet us down. This may seem like a simple memory, but it was in that hospital room when I realized how special Allie was. Although she was in pain, she still laughed and smiled. Allie is the most positive and joyful person I have ever met.”

Allie’s friends and peers did everything they knew to let her know that they had her support. Allie was finishing up the soccer season with her local, junior soccer league and recalls not being able to play her last game, because she had thought she sprained her ankle. However, she later found that it was a symptom of ALL.

“My classes always made me cards and my friends ALWAYS came to visit me,” said Ziniti. “My friends always made me uplifting cards and I still have all of them and I look at them all the time. I’ve saved all of my cards I got when I was sick. ALL of my friends were really great during that time. They clearly had better things to do than visit me in the hospital, and l had lost my hair, so I’m sure they were sad and scared, but they always came. I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. I love them so much!”

Allie’s spirit remained upbeat and lively. She strived for this as much as possible, and her friends explain that they knew she had to have been in pain, but she never let up around them. She was always the Allie that they knew and loved.

“Allie remained happy and thankful always,” said freshman Claudia Ripka. “Allie is so strong. The cancer affected her whole life, yet she never changed who she is.”

As many can imagine, being a parent and having to face the idea that your child is severely ill cannot be easy. Allie’s mother, however, was confident her daughter would pull through.

“My first thought when I was told Allie had Leukemia was, ‘is my child going to die?'” said Melissa Ziniti. “But a great team of doctors and nurses assured me that while the fight would be long and tough, her odds of survival were good. I decided then, that I would help her face this with as much optimism and grace as we could muster.”

Allie is not only a survivor. She is a hero. Heroes are not only those who wear capes and fly to save the damsel from the infamous villain. A hero is someone who is courageous and strong and uses this, along with determination and perseverance, to reach his goal and overcome the obstacles. By many, Allie Ziniti is not only known as the girl who overcame cancer but also as hero.

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