Guest Commentary

Meet Penny Feddick, who was stricken with cancer--and turned her illness into a positive

Volunteering is one of the greatest examples of selfless love one can give--and Penny Feddick is full of selfless love.

Feddick, 40 years young, is someone I call a "volunteer angel." Feddick has been volunteering--her passion--since high school, and she says that giving back keeps her simultaneously tired and energized.

Feddick started giving even more about seven years ago after being diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Searching for resources to help her understand her new illness, she became involved with the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). Around the same time, Feddick's mom presented her with Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. Feddick was hooked on doing more to help people and was determined that her positive attitude would make a difference.

Today, Feddick is the army leader for LAF's LiveStrong Army here in Tucson.

According to Feddick, on May 13 for the last seven years, Lance has taken delegates from every state to Washington, D.C., to lobby for LiveStrong Day. The purpose: To promote awareness of all types of cancers, and to make it clear why we need to address the issue. On LiveStrong day, Feddick holds a LiveStrong Bike Ride here in Tucson to raise funds and awareness for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

I had to know, from Penny herself, what really inspires her to work two full-time jobs, yet still find the time to not only volunteer, but to head up so many projects.

"Children inspire me the most, because they are the most innocent, and they are our future," Feddick says. "I give back to the community in any way I can. I drive around giving out Lance Armstrong notebooks and wristbands. I volunteer at Tu Nidito, the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry ... and the Red Cross."

When asked what advice she has for others facing tough times, Feddick says, "If you have to face cancer or any tough challenge in life, try to stay positive. Get a second opinion if you don't like the answers you're getting. Attitude is everything."

Feddick says that volunteering for LAF is a blessing. She sees Lance Armstrong's passion and says she admires him so much for it. She states that Armstrong stood a significant chance of dying as he fought different forms of cancer. He simply would not take "no" to living for an answer and went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France races.

"He has helped move people more than any other cancer organization," she says, adding that no matter how many times he wins, Armstrong wants to be known most for bringing awareness to cancer issues. After being in retirement from bike racing since 2005, Armstrong has announced he will try to win his eighth Tour de France in July 2009.

While facing the good, the bad and the ugly, Feddick says, "Cancer changed my life for the positive. It was a positive! I've found focus in life. I've met some of the best people in my life since I was diagnosed with cancer."

Penny ponders her situation briefly, then adds, "A lot of people say, 'Why me?' I don't. I thank God every day for this. My life now holds passion, intensity and enthusiasm."

Penny says she thanks her mom for giving her Armstrong's book. She feels that this one simple gesture of love and a search for understanding opened doors to great friendships and a truer bond with God.

"It's a great feeling that comes back to you in so many ways, and you feel soooo good." Feddick says about giving.

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