Zienia Cabrera was given life-changing news in early December of 2010. She was told she had approximately 18 months to live. The diagnosis was stage IV breast cancer and, needless to say, this news turned her world upside down. At only 31 years young, this happily married mother of two made it her goal to LIVE out the rest of her life and not waste a single moment. Her bucket list included tailgating for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, something Zienia had never experienced. And this is how Zienia came into my life…
A friend of mine, Misty, called and told me Zienia’s story and asked if I was able to help her do something really special for Zienia. I wanted nothing but to help make her dream come true by giving Zienia a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I arranged a meet and greet for Zienia with my fellow cheerleaders at our Saturday field rehearsal. We were so anxious to finally get to meet this vibrant and brave woman that we had heard about. She came in with her husband Saul and the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. We took a few photos and presented her with a gift bag including a personalized calendar, pink football, and a Buccaneers Breast Cancer Awareness shirt. We also included letters of encouragement and love, personally written by each individual cheerleader.
On Sunday, Zienia attended the game and had a blast at the tailgate party. She was surrounded by family, lifelong friends and even made some new ones. She was certainly in my mind as I took the field on Sunday. Her vow to leave a legacy of love, kindness and compassion truly touched my heart and I feel like I danced that much harder on Sunday to honor her courage and strength.
I was reminded to take a step back and to be grateful: for my loved ones, for my talents and treasures, and for my health.
I am thankful for the opportunity to play a small role in this special, happy memory for not only Zienia but for her loved ones as well. Her smile and courage will stay with me forever.