CLEARWATER - Both suffered tremendous hardships. Both were not expected to live. Both beat the odds. Now a breast cancer survivor and a world famous dolphin are setting an inspirational example that miracles do happen.
You've probably heard Winter the dolphin's story. She's famous worldwide for the tale about her tail.
Four years ago, Winter got entangled in a crab trap rope. The accident resulted in the loss of her tail and several vertebrae. Experts didn't think she'd survive.
Cindy Farber is with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
“She was just a baby and she was able to overcome everything she faced, from actually losing her tail to having to learn how to swim again, without the normal motion dolphins swim in, to learning how to use a prosthetic tail."
"They didn't really give her much hope. Our stories are really very parallel," Farber said.
At 31, Erin Pianko got a shocking breast cancer diagnosis.
"When I was diagnosed at stage 4, they didn't give me a great prognosis. They have all those percentages."
But Erin didn't focus on the numbers. Instead, she entrusted herself in a new set of doctors and a grueling cutting edge chemotherapy treatment. She lifted her spirits with positive things like planning a wedding and wading with Winter.
“Everyone's cancer is different. So you know you just have to go for the fight and do what you can and just hope for the best."
Both Winter and Erin are now in training. The tail-less dolphin will be staring in her own feature film and the two-year breast cancer survivor will walk the 'Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure' 3-day-walk in October.
Erin says, “It was a neat experience to be able to share with such an incredible animal who has done so well, besides the odds.”
Cindy Farber adds, “Everyone’s unique but you need to find your own way in yourself to overcome what you're facing and Winter definitely portrays that. She embodies that message to tell people you can do anything if you put your mind to it. And that's really what we hope anybody who comes to the aquarium takes away from Winter's story."
The wade program, which is what Erin took part in, is offered to the public.
You don’t have to have a disability or an illness to bond with Winter.
For more information on availability and cost go to:
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