My first memories of Melissa are of what an ardent animal lover she is. I’ve never known her without a pet. And I think if she could she’d take in all the dogs she could find. She had dogs before she had kids when kids was all I had. She loved them like her own children. Eventually, she married my brother and had twin boys and of course, her love of her dogs never changed. She’s always had at least one dog, usually two, a cat and at least one other animal. She kept a gold fish alive for about a decade longer than their usual life expectancy. She has a natural, loving ability to simply care for everyone.
She also has an amazing talent to decorate and plan. She was my Pinterest board long before Pinterest even existed. She’s always wearing something stylish that she may have picked up as an amazing find at a consignment shop and her house could be in a magazine. A lot of times the furniture in her house is another great find of hers that she’s fixed up to suit her needs. She has such a great eye for decorating. You can’t help but feel at home in her house.
Given all her talents, she could have her pick of jobs but her heart and soul belong to the kindergarten class where she is an aide. She’s been working at our local elementary school for the better part of the last ten years. She started in the cafeteria and got to know all of the kids as they progressed through the years and now gets to use her caring nature on one classroom at a time. We’re lucky to have such a caring person helping to shape school experiences for the kids who come through her classroom.
Melissa is an only child and has always been the strong one in her family to handle life as it tends to throw itself as you. She had a close relationship with her grandmother and took on the role of caretaker and coordinator in her grandmothers final years and she did all this while pregnant with twins. Life hasn’t always been easy but Melissa handles it all as it comes her way with a quiet grace and determination. Sometimes you’d never know anything was wrong.
Right now though, there is. Melissa has MDS. Melissa’s mother has MDS. Melissa’s mother, Carol, was diagnosed years ago with the disease and Melissa has watched her battle for years. Carol is coming to the end of her battle as Melissa’s is just ramping up. She only felt her first symptoms just a few months ago. She is currently already in the intermediate risk category and looking at bone marrow donors. Carol wasn’t able to find a donor. This wasn’t an option for her. Today we found out Melissa has 15 potential donors! It sounds like a huge accomplishment but for Melissa it’s just another step towards a reality that simply just sucks. Bone marrow transplants are not easy. It’s going to be a long battle. And it’s going to be hers. We’ll be here with her the whole way but she’s going into this battle alone. Only she can go through these procedures. As much as we’d love to do it for her, it’s all her. We have to honor how scary that is.
I’m leaving this post unfinished because I am hoping to add soon that she’s had more success with her treatment. This is one part of the multifaceted support we all have for her. Please feel free to share your own story.