From all outward appearances, Savana Bowers is a beautiful, bubbly young woman. She’s looking forward to college after graduating in May from Lodi High School, where she maintains a high grade-point average. But for the past year, she has been fighting a raging battle against a brain tumor.
“She’s a kid you wouldn’t even know has brain cancer. She’s a senior in high school, she knows that and she just lives life to the fullest,” said close family friend Jonelle Steckman, who nominated Savana to be this year’s Parade of Lights grand marshal.
“I didn’t nominate her because she has a cancer, but because of the amazing young lady she has become,” she said. “I nominated her for her positive attitude and being a great role model for other teens.”
Savana will lead next Thursday’s annual parade through the streets of Downtown Lodi. Her younger sister Jenna will ride with her.
Since her diagnosis — one year ago in December — Savana has endured two brain surgeries, 33 of rounds radiation and monthly chemotherapy, delivered through a temporary port near her heart. She has eight more months of that to go.
Her last two MRIs have come back clear, according to her mother, Debbie Bowers.
Steckman, whose daughters have grown up with Savana and her sisters, said the high school senior never missed a day of school until the prognosis. Despite the obvious absences, she’s still carrying a good GPA.
She’s also a member of the school’s drill team.
The Lodi resident recently walked in Lodi’s annual Relay for Life, where she raised $3,000, and was just crowned Lodi High’s 2013 homecoming queen.
“She has had a phenomenal attitude, and you can capitalize phenomenal,” Steckman said. “She’s basically, ‘Yeah, I have cancer. Let’s get on with this. What can I do with my friends?’”
Debbie Bowers, who is equally impressed with her daughter’s perseverance, didn’t expect Steckman to nominate Savana, but thinks the honor is “awesome.”
That was the exact word Savana used to describe the honor, as well.
He family attends the Parade of Lights every year and has even walked in it as part of the Relay for Life group.
This year, there were several grand marshal nominations, but the committee chose Savana Bowers.
“She is such an inspiration ... and maintains that positive attitude for everyone to see,” Parade of Lights chairman Chet Somera said of the Chamber of Commerce’s choice. “We are so honored to have her in the parade.”
It is the first year the chamber is in charge of the parade. A list of past grand marshals was not available.
In the end, Steckman said Savana has not only shown bravery, but exceptional strength and outstanding courage through her continuous fight to overcome the disease.
“(It’s) all due to her belief of ‘attitude is everything,’” she wrote in her nomination letter. “I feel Savana is an inspiration to our community especially teens, by living life to the fullest and not letting anything get in your way.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.