April 13, 2012 – Zayan Pereborow (B’12) a member of the executive team for the April 20 American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Georgetown, will never forget when she was diagnosed with leukemia at the tender age of 5.
“My mother sat me down and told me that I was very sick,” says Pereborow, a finance major. “I initially did not think much of it since I was used to always being sick as a child. At such a young age, I had no idea that I was about to embark on the most challenging battle of my life. “
Pereborow’s 5-year-old world quickly transformed as she adjusted to the new realities of daily life with a chronic disease.
Acute myelogenous leukemia is marked by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells in bone marrow that interfere with the production of normal blood cells.
“Instead of sleepovers with my friends, there were endless nights at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia” says the Georgetown student, who is from Avon by the Sea, N.J.
After numerous medical procedures, Pereborow won her battle with cancer. But by that time, another tragedy had struck.
A Father’s Secret
“In 1999, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer,” Pereborow says. “For my courageous but stubborn father, this was his silent battle that he and my mother kept as a secret from me.”
Following a four-year struggle with colon as well as liver cancer, her father passed away.
“After my father’s passing, I felt like my whole world came undone,” she says.
But she later gained the strength to help others.
“I treasure my life with a knowledge that … has encouraged me to give back to those who face the same struggles that I overcame, a knowledge that has taught me how to hope,” Pereborow says. “My life experiences have inspired me to celebrate, remember, and fight back – because my father would have wanted me to.“
Since 2006, Georgetown has raised more than $1.4 million for the American Cancer Society. The 2012 Relay for Life takes place at Georgetown’s Multi-Sports Complex.
As of today, Georgetown had raised $141,666 and had 151 teams comprising 1, 462 participants.
Pereborow has been part of the Relay for Life for all four years at Georgetown.
“As a freshman, I was overwhelmed by the campus wide enthusiasm and dedication that I observed at Relay For Life Kickoff,” she recalls. “In that moment, I felt a stronger connection to the Georgetown community and for once in my life, I felt comfortable to share my experience as a survivor and caregiver to make a difference and positively contribute to the Relay for Life movement.”