Cancer survivor becomes a bemedalled gymnast
Cancer survivor becomes a bemedalled gymnast
Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4, Daniela dela Pisa thought she had no future in sports. But her spirit was stronger than the disease

TAGUM CITY, Philippines – At a young age, artistic gymnast Daniela dela Pisa has endured the most difficult of challenges.

Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4, Daniela thought she had no future in sports. But her spirit was stronger than the disease. Now, she has become a multi-awarded young athlete. 

David Lozada reports.


Like other young athletes her age, Daniela dela Pisa dreams of becoming the best in her sport. But unlike her peers, she has gone through the most devastating challenge.

At the age of 4, Daniela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Luckily, she survived the operation and chemo therapy.

Daniela’s mother Darlene says her daughter’s situation broke her family’s heart. They thought she has no future in sports.

DARLENE DELA PISA, MOTHER: Noong nalaman ko na may cancer na si Daniela, nawala na sa isip ko yung mag-gygymnast pa siya kasi grabe eh. Grabe kasi nung nalaman ko at sa asawa ko na may cancer anak ko. Mahirap eh. After ng 3 years niya maoperahan, gusto pa rin talaga ni Daniela pumasok ng gymnastics. Ako, okay lang sa akin kasi kaming magkakapatid gymnasts kami eh pati mama ko gymnast.

(When we found out that Daniela had cancer, we were devastated. We didn’t think she’d still become a gymnast. It was so difficult for us. Three years after she was operated, she wanted to enter gymnastics. I come from a family of gymnasts so I let her train.)

But Daniela’s spirit is stronger than cancer. The 11-year-old is making a name for herself in artistic gymnastics. She was the champion in the below 10 category of the sports event in Palarong Pambansa 2014. She was also named Most Outstanding athlete in the National Milo Olympics in 2013 and 2014. 

DANIELA DELA PISA, GYMNAST AND CANCER SURVIVOR: I pracetice everyday. I want to be part of the national team and represent the Philippines internationally.

Darlene, a former gymnast who is also her daughter’s coach, says she wants Daniela to learn there are no excuses in life.

DARLENE DELA PISA, MOTHER: Lahat ng gymnast ko, wala akong pinapaboran. Kahit anak ko siya or kaibigan ko nanay niya, patas po lahat. Ano nafe-feel niyo kapag nakikita niyong nahihirapan na siya? Wala. Natural lang yan. Kasi gymnast din ako eh.

(I don’t have favorites in any of my gymnasts. Whether she is my daughter or a family friend, I don’t give favors. Everyone is equal. What do you feel when you see Daniela having a hard time? Nothing. It’s natural. I’m a gymnast so I know she has to go through hardships to succeed.) 

Even in her young age, Daniela a champion both in the gymnastics mat and in life. Her story shows how the human spirit is stronger and more resilient than any disease.

Daniela believes she will reach her dream of becoming a part of the country’s national team. After defeating cancer, what can she not conquer?

David Lozada, Rappler Tagum City


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