After talking with a breast cancer survivor and one of our volunteers last week, I was speechless – as I often am when talking with inspiring people – at the challenges one person can face and still maintain a positive, optimistic attitude. Read Melissa’s story of survivorship below and the lifesaving gift she received last year.
“When you hear the words, ‘You have breast cancer,’ it doesn’t really sink in. It didn’t really sink in for me until my hair fell out, shortly after I began chemo.”
At this time last year, Melissa Smith was looking forward to the holiday season with her family. Her perspective changed when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer on November 19, 2009 at the age of 42.
Charging ahead with her treatment plan, Melissa underwent a double radical mastectomy the week after Thanksgiving. Instead of enjoying the rest of the holiday season with her two children, Melissa soon began fighting not just breast cancer, but a deadly infection that raged through her body after her surgery the week before Christmas.
Having already asked family and friends for financial support to pay her medical bills, Melissa couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars in antibiotics she needed to fight the invasive infection. A nurse told her about a program called “Bridges on the Path to Wellness,” a program from OhioHealth funded through the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The program turned out to be a lifesaver and the nurse, as Melissa put it, a “Christmas Angel.”
Because of the funding she received to pay for the antibiotic needed to save her life, Melissa survived the infection and went on to battle through 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments. Along the way she lost her eyebrows and eyelashes, but she never lost hope. Now she’s preparing for Christmas again with her family and looking forward to volunteering with Komen Columbus.
“The grant I received from OhioHealth saved my life. I’m incredibly grateful to Komen Columbus for providing the funding and will do anything I can to help save someone else’s life.”
For every donation Komen Columbus receives, 75 percent funds community health programs like the Bridges program that saved Melissa’s life. Consider making a gift to Komen Columbus in lieu of a present for someone this year. You’ll never know the impact it could have. Just ask Melissa.