San Diego

SDSU Student Battles Rare Form of Cancer

Joana Da Cass was diagnosed with undifferentiated carcinoma with rhabdoid features

A San Diego State University student, diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, is getting help from family and friends as she continues working toward her degree.

Joana Da Cass has many passions in life, including hiking with her dog. These days, the 25-year-old SDSU student is unable to enjoy some of her hobbies.

Family members said after months of feeling pain in an ovary, in early March of this year, Da Cass was diagnosed with undifferentiated carcinoma with rhabdoid features.

Pictures show Da Cass flashing her signature smile during her chemotherapy treatments.

“Seeing her smile and seeing the way she acts and facing this gives me strength to look at my life in a different perspective,” explained friend Jaqueline Rizzatti.

Despite the smiles, family does have concerns.

"To not have my cousin around, that’s the concern,“ explained cousin Renata Berto. “But we are keeping positive we believe in miracles.”

Family and friends have set up an online fundraiser to help offset the cost of treatment.

According to the GoFundMe page, Da Cass will graduate with a degree in International Business this spring. 

Local artist Ezekiel Morphis is also lending his voice for a fundraiser April 13 at Thorn Street Brewery.

“We’re just hoping to keep her stress free during this time,” Berto said. “So finances are a way of helping her not to have to focus on that and have the energy to fight this.”

Family members are hoping she will be able to stay on track to graduate this May from SDSU.

They say any additional money they raise will be donated to cancer research.

Contact Us