Last year, Larissa Podermanski was lying on her couch dreading the month of October. It was going to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the world would get splashed in pink. Larissa was very “aware” of breast cancer. Months earlier, at age 30, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, an incurable form of the disease. The cancer, once in her breast, had now spread to her liver and bones causing them to break.
“I was laying on the couch because I couldn't get up. It was really painful to walk,” she said.
She was on this couch when she received a call from The Pink Agenda, a nonprofit aimed at empowering millennials to support breast cancer research, with all funds donated to BCRF. Earlier that year she entered the organization’s FAB-U-WISH program which grants wishes to breast cancer patients. On the call she learned she was selected and her wish of attending their annual gala, held in October, was granted.
“I needed a boost,” Larissa said recalling the conversation.
Weeks later, Larissa found herself standing in front of a crowd of 500 people sharing her story for the first time. She gave every heart wrenching detail: how she felt a lump in her breast and convinced her physician to undergo screening despite her young age; how after learning her diagnosis was terminal, decided to marry her boyfriend in six days; and, how her collarbone and hip broke while on their honeymoon. It was a sign the cancer had spread to her bones.
“I left the stage feeling motivated and invigorated,” she said. It became a defining moment for Larissa, who has become an outspoken advocate to raise awareness and funds for metastatic breast cancer.
“If I have to have this disease, I need a purpose,” she said.
Today Larissa regularly shares her story including all the successes and setbacks that get thrown her way. She does so in her personal style – adding humor and wit whenever possible.
“Talking about death can be a very uncomfortable conversation. I realized when I started bringing humor in, it helped brighten the mood,” she said.
With no known cure for metastatic disease, Larissa has made it her personal mission to educate the world about stage IV breast cancer with the hope it will inspire others to support research.
“I'm up against something I can't physically beat without research to give me the tools to beat it,” she said.
While she remains on a hormone therapy to prevent her cancer from spreading, she understands she will eventually need new treatment once this one stops working.
“I hope that the research being done now will act as my next treatment that's going to let me live,” she said.
Until then, she continues to live every day to its fullest – making as many new memories as possible with her husband and family.
“Every moment doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m just grateful it happened,” she said.