Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Perspective is an amazing thing

Perspective is a remarkable thing.  This morning, I might have had some fear around sending two of my children (the little ones) for their first week-long trip away.  This afternoon, I might have had some anxiety around my own trip to Europe for a business trip. I might have acknowledged fear in either situation.  But, instead I sat down to read two submissions to You Fearless that I had been intending to post to the site, and I realized I not only had nothing to fear, but also that those fears were so incredibly small relative to the courage of two people: Perry Zimmerman and Nikki Ferraro. 

And so I share with you a post directly from young Perry as she celebrates the end of her chemo treatment and a post from Robin Ferraro on behalf of her niece, Nikki who turned her challenge into a tremendous opportunity.  If you have even the slightest bit of fear today (or any day), I encourage you to read these and I am convinced you will be inspired to conquer whatever challenge you may have in front of you.

Post from Perry Zimmerman: "Finally I'm done!"

I'm so happy to finally be done with chemo. I mean it was nice making friends and all but it's a big scene to have out of the way. The inpatient was drab except for the Friday night candy cart. The stays are so boring especially when I'm feeling ok. There is a playroom but it's so small it's almost boring in there. One day in my last stay I went to the playroom at seven at night when technically it would be closed and made slime.   We made so many colors and then over the next few days it separated.

The MSKCC pediatric prom was amazing. It was on my second to last day of being there. They had music and food and everything you need for a great prom [see photo above of Perry with her mom]. The music was blasting loud. The best part was the doctors and nurses and everyone dancing and singing along. It was probably tied for the best day at Sloan with Halloween.

On my last day at the hospital for treatment, the candy cart people stopped us on our way out and told us they were setting up the cart. They invited us in to pick out a few pieces. Ok fine - more than just a few. How could we hold back?  Indulge! The last day was a huge relief. It came all at once. I was just thinking about it saying how is it possibly this close. And yet it is gone.  Finished. All this stuff out of the way.

Post from Robin Ferraro: Just Believe

“ I really do believe that anything is possible if you just believe,” says Nikki.

I am reminded of Jennifer Goodman Linn’s positive, can-do attitude and You Fearless spirit by my niece, Nikki Ferraro and her fight to conquer Medullary Thyroid Cancer, which is a rare form of thyroid cancer she was diagnosed with 2 years ago at the age of 17.  

Despite what would be devastating news for any teen, Nikki took charge of the situation from the start and fought back against her cancer diagnosis by forming a Relay for Life team called Bite Me Cancer a week before her first cancer surgery.  At the relay near her hometown of Chantilly, VA her team placed first for both team and individual fundraising for the American Cancer Society.  She also placed first as the individual online fundraiser for the 8-state South-Atlantic Region of the American Cancer Society.

Nikki was on to something! Determined to build on the momentum she had started in her efforts to raise money for cancer research, she convinced her parents to help her establish the Bite Me Cancer Foundation (“Attitude is Everything!”) in 2010. A small non-profit, their mission is to fight cancer through research, education and inspiration.   

Nikki and Bite Me Cancer are currently focused on 2 major initiatives. The first is a program that will support teens newly diagnosed with cancer by giving them a special teen support bag called “A Bit of Bite Me Cancer” filled with items to support them on their cancer journey.  The second is the $50k for 50k campaign.  It is predicted that more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012 and the foundation’s fundraising goal is to raise one dollar for each new diagnosis. The money will fund one 2-year research grant aimed at fighting thyroid cancer, which is the fastest growing cancer in the United States today.

The foundation had begun to do some great work and I am happy to share that personally, Nikki is doing well too.  After surgery and radiation treatments, her cancer is stable and she successfully completed her first year of college at James Madison University.  Cancer survivor, foundation founder, college sophomore --- we look forward to the future and Nikki’s continued efforts to educate and inspire people to get involved in the fight against cancer!

I'm off to the airport.  As always, I hope you will send me your stories and thoughts for You Fearless at

-Janet Balis Allen