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Mia “Punkie” Leon is a bubbly, cheerful young woman. According to friends, her smile can “light up a whole room.” A self-proclaimed nerd, Punkie loves Harry Potter, WWE, The Walking Dead and aliens. Unlike many, however, she dislikes chocolate chip ice-cream.
Prior to her diagnosis, Punkie was not the happiest teenager. Bullied in school and dealing with the separation of her parents, Punkie struggled with depression. When she found a lump on the side of her neck, she hid it from her parents until she couldn’t hide it anymore or stand the pain. On New Year’s Day 2012, the doctor told her parents that the swollen gland she’d been hiding was very serious, and the tests began. After several frustrating, inconclusive tests, a biopsy finally revealed that Punkie had Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The news was earth shattering for Punkie, but right away, she decided to fight.
Throughout treatment, Punkie never stopped smiling. She kept joking and making people laugh, even in the toughest moments. Punkie underwent several months of chemo, and 1 month of radiation. On October 17th 2012, she was declared cancer-free.
Today, Punkie speaks about her experience with childhood cancer and hopes that telling her story can help other kids in their own battles. She wants other kids to know that having cancer does not define you, and you can still be yourself, even if you’re fighting for your life.
“No matter what happens on our cancer adventure, we'll get through it and we'll be smiling. Cancer can take away your hair, it can make some of your friends go away, but you know what it can't do? It can't take away your smile or your hope if you don't allow it to.” – Punkie
Information provided by Punkie Leon
Last Updated: August 2015
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