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San Diego student survives cancer and helps others


Sana Moezzi awarded Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — One day a Carlsbad teenager was working in a pizza shop, the next she was being rushed to the hospital with a deadly lump on her chest. In this Zevely Zone, I met a cancer survivor who plans to spend her life helping others.

“I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. I had Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer and the doctor gave me four weeks to live, said Sana Moezzi.

Sana’s survival is miraculous but what makes her story so special is everything Sana is doing to help others fight for their lives. She showed me pictures of her journey that went from recovery to volunteering. 

“That was my first-year volunteering with Make a Wish San Diego,” said Sana who became the youngest wish granter for The Make-A-Wish Foundation and then received Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship.

The costly treatment associated with childhood cancer can lead to long-term financial challenges, including questions of how to afford higher education. Northwestern Mutual is committed to helping children and families affected by this disease achieve their college dreams. As part of these efforts, Sana was selected as a 2020 recipient through the company’s Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship program. 

The scholarship program was developed to alleviate the financial strain on families that often results from expensive cancer treatments by helping to fund school tuition and fees. Forty-three students, the largest cohort to date, have each been awarded a $5,000 renewable scholarship (for a total of $10,000) through this year’s program. Sana was diagnosed with cancer during her senior year of high school.

“It’s helped me get a job right after college that’s what it did,” said Sana. She just graduated from the University of San Diego and now works for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society where she can share first-hand the shock of a cancer diagnosis. “I was emotionless and speechless I just didn’t know what to say,” said Sana. 

But now, she can turn that shock around and inspire children and other cancer patients with her journey that went from chemotherapy to a celebration. Sana showed me another picture that she is proud of and said, “That was the night I won Prom Queen my senior year of high school.”

You don’t have to have cancer to hear the message this 21-year-old shares with everyone she meets. 

“It really comes down to the positivity, you know continue living your life to your fullest because you never know what the next day will bring. Every single second of your life is worth living,” said Sana. 

Her seconds are piling up. She’s now four years cancer free.

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“I find myself smiling just to see another day,” said Sana. “Cancer stripped away the person I once was and sculpted me into the person I have grown to truly be, a survivor. Since being diagnosed, I am dedicated to living life to its fullest.”

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Since 2012, Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Program has focused on advancing childhood cancer research, providing family and patient support, and serving as a resource to families managing the long-term effects of cancer treatment. With the support of Northwestern Mutual employees and financial advisors nationwide, the company has contributed more than $30 million and funded over 400,000 hours of research through the program. 

Applications for the 2021 scholarship program are open now through Feb. 1, 2021. Selection results are expected by May 2021.

To learn more and apply, click here.  


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