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This Professional Dancer's Cancer Story Is Not Just Another Cancer Story

“How do you find the courage to move on when your life is spinning out of control?” professional dancer Brianna Mercado asks the audience in her TEDxBend Talk below. “To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out.”

The 22-year-old bone cancer survivor gives a powerful 14-minute speech — but she doesn’t just tell her story; she dances it.

At the 6-minute mark, Mercado plays a recording she made immediately after getting her cancer diagnosis on Christmas Eve. While her voice echoes throughout the room, she dances.

“What I do know is you can’t let your fears, worries and doubts about the future prevent you from living the life you want to live,” Mercado says after her performance. “In the face of something you fear you must stand up and be brave. Life is too short to live cautiously. You may not be able to control the world but you can control who you choose to be and what actions you take… So choose to be something when your life starts to spin.”

She ends her talk with another dance, staged to a cover of Bastille’s “Pompeii.”

“How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” the song goes. Mercado dances.

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The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself in regards to a cancer diagnosis. What would you say or wish someone had told you? Find out how to email us a story submission here.