Childhood Cancer Survivor Noelle Talarico Embracing Experience As THON 2023 Dancer

For Noelle Talarico, THON’s mission is nothing new.

At four years old, Talarico, a New Jersey native, was diagnosed with leukemia. She spent the following two and a half years in and out of hospitals, enduring rounds of chemotherapy and various other procedures.

As the years went on, Talarico attended frequent check-ups, spaced at three months apart, then six months, and now, she only returns to her oncologist annually.

Today, Talarico is double majoring in economics and history here at Penn State. Even before making the decision to come to Happy Valley, Talarico knew what THON was.

“My mom is an alum, so she would always talk about THON. I knew the general gist of what THON was before attending Penn State.”

Talarico said that especially since she was a childhood cancer survivor, her mom would talk about the event even more.

Talarico’s mom was involved with THON when she attended Penn State, but she acknowledged that THON was still in its relatively early stages. The event has seen a huge uptick in attendance and popularity since its move to the Bryce Jordan Center in 2007.

“Once I knew I wanted to come to Penn State, it just was obvious that I would get involved since not only was it for cancer but specifically for childhood cancer,” Talarico explained.

Talarico’s mom also ran multiple marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society when she was younger, so fundraising is familiar to her family.

Talarico is involved in Phi Beta Lambda, a co-ed professional business fraternity here at Penn State. Her involvement began in 2021, but this was the year that THON had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Talarico had the opportunity to finally attend her first in-person THON. To make things even sweeter, she had the privilege of serving as one of Phi Beta Lambda’s THON chairs, specifically their family relations chair.

“[Being an FR chair] made me want to dance even more. Just being there and seeing the dancers made me think, ‘next year I definitely want to do that.'”

This year, Talarico has been chosen to be one of Phi Beta Lambda’s five dancers. She expressed her excitement and gratitude to be one of 707 dancers on the floor.

“Seeing the kids… I was them. Now that I’m healthy, I feel like I should be doing all that I can to get us closer to a cure.”

Over the weekend’s 46 hours, Talarico will be supported by her roommates, her best friend, and members of Phi Beta Lambda.

Talarico’s boyfriend and parents will be traveling from New Jersey for the weekend.

“My mom is super excited,” she said. “Any time she gets to come back to Penn State, she’s excited.”

Today, Talarico is 16 years cancer-free. She notes that it’s her lucky number, so it only makes sense that this is the year that she would be dancing in THON.

“The fact that I’m dancing, that I’m here, that I stood up to cancer — it means so much.”

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a 2024 graduate of Penn State with a degree in immunology and infectious disease. She relocated to Williamsport but will not be taking any questions about what’s next in her career. Haylee continues to be fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter if you must.

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