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Class act / An outstanding young Western New Yorker

Megan Johnson, an "A" student at Kenmore West High School, enjoys music and art and is active at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda.
She was diagnosed as a toddler with an aggressive cancer that cost her part of a lung. Her spine was fused to a 14-inch titanium rod to keep her back straight and to help her with her breathing. The curved spine was the result of radiation therapy, and more surgery will be required to correct other side-effects from the radiation. She wore a back brace from age 6 until just over two years ago.

Megan, now 16, plans to one day become an orthopedist because she says she wants to help others the same way she has been helped. And that's one of the reasons she recently was designated Roswell Park Cancer Institute's youngest "Star of Hope."

The teen "can inspire us all," says Deborah Pettibone, of Roswell Park's public relations office.

Megan -- a sophomore at Kenmore West, who has a twin brother, Daniel -- is modest about the honor.

"I only know what it is to be a cancer survivor; it's always been a part of my life," she said.

Her mother, Kathy Johnson, says Megan "has some physical problems, but she's here living life. We are just very grateful to have Megan with us today. So far, she's beaten the odds. We're so thankful for that, and for all the people who have helped her. She's proof that there is life after cancer. You should never give up hope."

Megan always tries to educate her friends and fellow students about cancer. She's helping to raise money for cancer research through her artwork, having created holiday card designs for Roswell Park's Paint Box Project.

Know a young outstanding Western New Yorker? Tell us about your nomination, including date of birth and address, for possible publication in ClassActs. Photos cannot be returned. E-mail, or write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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