By Rebecca Drew


DOCTORS gave this woman SIX MONTHS to live after she REFUSED CHEMO, but over TWO YEARS later she’s been labelled a MIRACLE – and she puts it down to her love of DISNEY COSPLAY.

During spring 2011, Tanya Mannella (35) from Cape Coral, Florida, USA, started to experience severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and regular high fevers, which were brushed off by her gynaecologist as ‘girl problems’.

By August, Tanya was being prepped for laparoscopic surgery to address her ‘girl problems’ when she was told she couldn’t have surgery as she had a high fever of 105 degrees Fahrenheit. She had emergency surgery as her appendix had perforated and was causing her to become septic and she stayed in hospital for two weeks after to recover.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya and her husband Chuck dressed up as Carl and Ellie from Up. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

After this, Tanya assumed that her health had just gone through a temporary rough patch and didn’t expect to fall ill again. But in autumn 2012 she started to experience similar familiar stomach problems and was heavily fatigued, and one day she found a large amount of blood in her stool.

Her GP sent her to a specialist who did a colonoscopy and diagnosed her with stage four colon cancer at the age of 27. In December 2012, Tanya underwent eight hours of gruelling surgery to remove the cancer from her body, which included; one foot of her colon, one hernia, one ovary and fallopian tube and part of her rectum.

There were some small cancer cells left behind and once she had recovered from her major surgery, Tanya commenced chemotherapy and radiation in February 2013, which left her dealing with her hair thinning, nausea, low white blood cell count and going through radiation menopause. Tanya completed all 25 rounds of radiation but was only able to complete seven out of 12 rounds of chemotherapy due to complications.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya in hospital. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

In March 2017, Tanya was told that her cancer had returned, and she underwent another surgery in June to have more of her colon removed, a total hysterectomy and reversible ostomy put in place. Understandably, Tanya couldn’t face going through chemo again and she was placed into home hospice care and given six months to two years to live, which she didn’t want to ruin through the devastating side effects of chemo. In June 2019, Tanya celebrated two years of life after cancer – doctors have labelled her a miracle.

At the heart of Tanya’s positivity has been the support she’s received from her family and husband, Chuck (32) as well as her passion for Disney and Disney cosplay. Tanya says focussing on Disney has helped her to stay positive when times are hard and she shares her ingenious Disney looks on Instagram under the handle, @theboundingblondie.

“After the debacle of 2011, I thought that the ‘rough patch’ of my life was over, despite, the surgeon warning me that she may not have gotten everything and that the problem may again arise in the future,” said Tanya.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: The balloons and gifts Tanya received after her surgery. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“I remember my first diagnosis as plain as yesterday. The colorectal surgeon stood bedside and gave me the life-altering news. I was only one week away from my 28th birthday.

“I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. I started bawling and contacted an oncologist doctor friend for advice.

“I had my first scheduled abdominal surgery. I had multiple surgeons working on me and it still took seven to eight hours in the operating room. This time, my colon was wrapped around one ovary squeezing it to the size of a softball.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya as Rapunzel from Tangled, her favourite Disney film and character. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“One foot of my colon, one hernia, one ovary, one tube, and a part of my rectum were removed along with any other signs of cancer. Unfortunately, there were smaller cells in my body that could not be removed and required further treatment.

“By February 2013 I had recovered enough to start chemotherapy and radiation treatment. A port was surgically implanted, but due to my small stature that never fully worked as it repeatedly ripped open and a hole could be seen into my body.

“I was forced to have it re-stitched multiple times in office, but ended up having most of the chemo injected directly into my veins, which burned greatly, or taken by mouth.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya emulating the ‘Floating Lights’ scene in Tangled. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“Chemo was the single worst thing I have ever experienced. This was the main reason for me opting out the second time. I was constantly nauseous and fatigued. I even was admitted into the hospital on multiple occasions.

“Managing the side effects was hard. The nurses gave me medicine for the nausea and steroids to ‘make me feel better’. Both only helped on the surface.

“June 2017 marked my third abdominal surgery and my second stage four colon cancer DX. I was put into home hospice and given a six month to two year life expectancy. I had to make the most out of a most unfortunate circumstance.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya with her husband Chuck and a young family relative. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“I prayed that I would make it out of the surgery, and I did. Aside from the power of prayer and God, I am not sure how I made it past it.

“I knew chemotherapy was not an option. I only had six months to live and did not wish to spend them feeling horrible. I would much rather spend that little time that I had left enjoying life with family and friends and at Disney. I have never looked back at my decision, as it was mine alone to make.”

In Autumn 2017, Tanya had her ostomy reversed which took some months to adjust to, and she was in a wheelchair for the best part of a year due to her weakened state.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya channeling her favourite Disney character, Rapunzel from Tangled. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

Tanya has followed a vegetarian and largely plant based diet since 2000 and doctors believe that this could be key to her survival.

“During the time that I had a ‘poop bag’ (starting post-surgery 2017) my diet was very limited and I dropped to 94 pounds. As a vegetarian it was very hard finding foods to eat as too much fibre produced too much ‘stool’ in my colostomy bag,” said Tanya.

“It popped many times, many of those times were in public which was horrifying in itself. I hated to look at myself and my stoma, so my husband obliged to take care of it for me. After the ostomy was reversed, however, I was not free from humiliation and troubles.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya at Star Wars Galaxy Edge at Disney dressed as Rey. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“I had a horrible allergic reaction to the tape used around my stoma and my skin was raw and irritated for quite some time. My bowel, also, did not yet work properly and I was forced to wear child sized diapers for many months after in case of any ‘accidents’. I still keep some on hand but have been fortunate to not need them for many months.

“Having exceeded the doctors’ predictions is unbelievable. I have to pinch myself daily.”

Tanya has been to Disney around 100 times and counting but staying in the castle is a dream of hers which is on her bucket list. Chuck and Tanya are currently looking to move to Orlando so they can spend as much time as possible at their happy place.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya in Spiderman cosplay. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“I love the magic of Disney. It’s a feeling that embodies you and you cannot help but smile,” said Tanya.

“Playing ‘dress up’ and having a ‘young at heart’ mentality help in this aspect. I will not say that it is easy, because it is not. But, focussing on doing something that I love (such as Disney, Disneybounding, and cosplay) helps me to remain positive.

“Disney and fancy dress have always held a soft spot in my heart. The fact that I can combine the two is even better. Seeing what I can create and who I can become through fashion and fantasy allows me ‘escape’ the day to day struggle of living with cancer.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya holding balloons and gifts she recieved when she was poorly. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“My favourite Disney film is definitely Tangled. I love the music and the romance, not to mention the lantern scene makes me swoon.

“Rapunzel is ‘hair down’ my favourite Disney character. Not only is she a princess, but she is a heroine. She was dealt a bad hand but found the will and way to live her dream.

“In the words of a thug to a lost princess, ‘Go. Live your dream’. Do not let others stray you from doing what makes you happy. Happiness makes you stronger, it helps you heal.

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, USA: Tanya dressed as Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. MDWfeatures /@theboundingblondie

“I hope that I can bring hope and joy to others facing, fighting, surviving cancer as well as anyone else that may need a ‘boost’. If I can be an inspiration, then I am grateful.”

To find out more about Tanya’s journey see