MARIETTA—After surviving a stage two breast cancer diagnosis in 2019, Washington State Community College (WSCC) Student of the Month Vivian Muntz came to the realization that she was defined by only one major accomplishment—being a mom. Her new lease on life fueled her desire to pursue more opportunities for herself including finally achieving her lifelong dream of going to college.
It was four years ago this month that Muntz was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer and the BRCA2 gene mutation. She described the diagnosis and subsequent surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy as the most difficult time of her life. “I was faced with my own mortality, which made me think about what I had done with my life other than being a mother. The answer was that I had nothing for myself, or even tried to follow my dreams,” confessed Muntz.
Surviving cancer was a wake-up call for Muntz and she was determined to make the most of the life she worked hard to save. “When I fought my way through cancer and won, I realized how lucky I was since there are so many others who aren’t as lucky. I took it as a second chance at life and decided to go for it. I didn’t want any regrets.”
Included on her bucket list—finally going to college. At the age of 45 and just two and a half years after her cancer diagnosis, Muntz registered for her first college class and set her sights on earning her degree in accounting. “For years I wanted to go back to school but I was scared that I couldn’t do it,” Muntz explained.
College wasn’t quite so scary when she compared it to the battle she had just won. “After I made it through the chemotherapy and surgeries. I got this mentality that I just beat cancer! I just kicked it in the butt! I can do anything,” proclaimed Muntz who defines herself as a warrior.
She relies on the same tenacity that got her through the fight of her life in the classroom. “I think what makes me a successful student is my determination and drive to achieve my dream of graduating from college and pursuing my dream career in accounting. I always want to do my best at anything I do.”
She also credits the support she has received from her accounting instructor and mentor Christina Gater-Hixson. “She is always very encouraging and takes the time to explain things in more detail when you ask because she genuinely wants her students to succeed.”
Just a few months from graduation, Muntz shares a message of encouragement to those who think going to college is impossible. She considers herself living proof that it’s better to live your dreams than to try to live with regrets. “The only thing worse than failing is simply not trying,” Muntz said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still do it. Even if you want to change careers; you can do it,” she encouraged. “It’s absolutely attainable.”