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Local cancer survivor shares inspiring story

Oshawa resident featured in PSA with Will & Grace star

Cancer survivor Sabrina Moreino (pictured with her parents) participates in events such as Relay for Life every year, and hopes to spread awareness of cancer and how it can affect survivors and their families. (Photo supplied)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Cancer is considered by many to be the most difficult thing one can endure, but for Oshawa resident Sabrina Moreino it was a chance to do some good.

Moreino, now 23, had a tumor removed along with an ovary when she was only 13-years-old.

Since her cancer has gone into remission, Moreino has worked with the Canadian Cancer Society and has recently gone on to be in a public safety announcement (PSA) with “Will and Grace” star Eric McCormack.

The PSA is provided by the Canadian Cancer Society and Stand Up To Cancer Canada (SU2C), an organization with the goal of ending “cancer’s reign as a leading cause of death in Canada by building awareness and educating the public about cancer prevention, and by raising funds to accelerate research that will help transform cancer from a disease that takes far too many lives to one people survive,” according to their website.

It features McCormack hanging photos of cancer survivors, while they can be heard speaking through voiceover about their own stories.

“I was really honoured to be asked to share my story,” Moreino says.

Moreino says she has also participated in many Relay for Life events in Oshawa, and the rest of Durham Region.

“I was first introduced to it through my dad, whose band performed with Relay for Life,” she explains. “After being diagnosed I decided to show up for one and it was a really life-changing experience being a part of that, and being recognized as a survivor.”

She says she has gone every year for the past 10 years.

She has also participated in Daffodil Month, a campaign where those wishing to participate can buy flowers and pins in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.

She’s also had the opportunity to share her story with some important people.

“Just last year I was fortunate enough to meet the Prime Minister of Canada and share my story with him,” she says.

She says she had heard of SU2C in the past through a telethon the organization does with celebrities.

“The message that they send is focusing on research and the innovative treatments, and really through sharing personal stories by cancer survivors and people who have been touched by cancer in some way or another, I really think that they send a great message,” she says. “It really hits close to home for everyone, so it’s a great message – it’s an important message.”

Moreino was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor on her ovary when she was 13-years-old, which she says is a really rare form of the disease.

“Obviously, me being a healthy 13-year-old girl, they weren’t expecting that,” she says.

Moreino explains while it was hard to find the tumor, when doctors located it she was in stage 3B, “which was still treatable and thankfully they had treatment options available for me.”

After getting her tumor and ovary removed, she began four rounds of chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy in itself is such a challenge to explain,” she says. “The best way that I can describe it to someone that hasn’t experienced it is that it’s like the flu times 10. It truly was a life changing experience – and as thankful as I am to have had the opportunity to have had chemotherapy, because not a lot of people can have those treatments, depending on the stage that they are in, and to come out a survivor, it was definitely a very, very hard thing to go through.”

After her four rounds of treatment, she lost her hair and felt very sick.

“Through it all, I tried my best to stay positive,” she says. “I had my family around me for support, and my friends, and of course my amazing team of doctors and nurses at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.”

She says she went into remission in 2010, but that didn’t signal the end of the battle. “People think that cancer stops after you’ve been put in remission or you’ve been told that you’re a survivor, but I learned quite quickly that the doctors appointments don’t end, and they’re always kind of looking to make sure that I’m still healthy and there’s no chance of reoccurrence.”

Moreino explains her appointments have become less frequent and “things have gotten less crazy, but it was definitely a long road, and I still deal with the lasting effects that cancer had on me, mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

Since she was diagnosed early on in Grade 8, she had to take the entire year off of school, which she says should have set her back.

“Thankfully, I had a really amazing teacher in Grade 8 who offered to tutor me at home and kind of keep me up to date about what was going on at school,” she says.

She was then able to graduate from elementary school on time with her friends and classmates.

Moreino says when she was in high school, she and a group of friends got together and created a group called “Moreino’s Military,” and raised more than $15,000 for Relay for Life over four years.

Today, Moreino has a social service worker diploma from Durham College and is currently at Trent University Durham completing her bachelor’s in child and youth studies.

“Cancer will always be a part of my life, and it was definitely important in those crucial years of my high school career,” Moreino says.

To view the PSA from SU2C and the Canadian Cancer Society, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sMxLToYrwg&feature=youtu.be