Meet Melissa, Breast Cancer Survivor and SmartStop Employee
Meet Melissa, Investor Relations Representative here at SmartStop since 2018. We're honored that Melissa has shared her story with us and we hope that with her wise and inspiring words, you too will find strength.
I was living my life like any ordinary person. At this time I was a mom of a 3 year old boy and had recently been engaged in July 2016. Months went by and in the month of October I was noticing a bump on my left breast. At first I didn’t think too much of it, cancer was never on my mind since it does not run in my family. But shortly after the tumor was getting bigger and bigger. I started to do my own little research about symptoms on breast cancer and what to expect. So I examined myself. All the signs and symptoms matched exactly what breast cancer can be. At this very moment deep in my heart I got the answer with no doubts what my body was going to endure. God was already preparing me to be a warrior and have no fear. I accepted God’s will and prayed for strength and grace. I didn’t need the doctor to diagnose me to know what was going on. After I examined myself I made an appointment with my doctor for an exam. I didn’t want to share what was going on with any friends or family because they would be in denial. I waited to receive my official results after my biopsy. November 2016, I went to the doctors for my results. The words were you have stage 3 IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) and need to start treatment right away. I think the hardest part of my battle was sharing the news to my family and friends. As I shared the news everyone took it hard and saw this as a tragedy, disgrace, and unfortunate. I was being strong and giving words of encouragement as God was illuminating my heart. It’s like I knew exactly what to say and how to comfort although I was going to be the one having a suffering. This brought me so much peace to my heart.
January 5th 2017 was my first day to start my chemotherapy. I was feeling anxious, eager, nervous and excited at the same time. It was an overwhelming feeling to have. I had to go every 3 weeks. The first round of chemotherapy was easy and thought this was going not going to get me sick. But days went by and I started to feel very tired and my stomach was upset. After that when my 2nd round of chemo was coming I was feeling back to my normal self. But after round 3 and 4 I came to the reality there is no cheating the treatment and had to go through all the sickness and suffering it comes with. Experiencing nausea, fatigue, major headaches, loss of appetite, all I wanted to do was hide under my covers and close my eyes wishing I could feel like a normal human being. My heart was feeling sad because even though my son was 3 he understood and felt my agony. All he wanted to do was comfort me, color pictures for me and just hug me and lay next to me. His preschool teacher was so amazing because she would text me asking if I was doing ok because Elijah (my son) was sad at school. I let her know sometimes I was at my worst and he saw that. Teacher Yvonne just gave him a hug and said your mom is going to be ok. After that he cheered up and started to play. After my 6th and last round of chemotherapy, I was at my most unfavorable moment with so much distress and felt affliction. I was hoping every day that I would wake up to feel better but it seems that I was feeling the opposite. I didn’t want to mention anything to anyone, especially my mom or sister, because I didn’t want them to worry. In that moment I was thinking to myself I wish I could close my eyes and not wake up to avoid the nasty pain my body was feeling. But when I was closing my eyes one night all I could see with my eyes shut was my son’s image. This was a sign from heaven that I have to fight harder than I have ever fought in my life. Elijah still needs his mommy. I still need to see him grow. I want him to see his parents get married in the church receiving the blessing of our union. This was not going to be the end for me. As my guardian angel whispered to me and said “tell your sister to take you to the hospital”, with all the strength I received with these spoken words I got up from the couch and called out to my sister to take me to the hospital right away. She had to carry me out to the car with a trash can because all I was doing was vomiting. I arrived to the hospital and everyone was staring at a bald women, vomiting, barley moving or opening her eyes. I could only imagine how I looked. The way my sister looked at me, I knew it was close to looking like I got hit by a train or something. After a short wait, I was taken to a room for examination. I was severely dehydrated and in need of a blood transfusion. I ended up staying at the hospital for 5 days and 4 nights. I am so thankful and grateful to God because of all the medical staff that was helping me to get better. But there were 2 people who made the most impact in my life and still to this day I think of them and pray for them. One was the last nurse who attended me. She stood out from all the other nurses, why?, because she had grace. With her sweet charisma, kindness and humble heart I knew God’s presence was within her. I knew I was in great hands and I knew that was the place I needed to be. The hospital I stayed at was St. Joseph and I was desiring to take Holy Communion. On the last day of my stay there I was in the room alone praying as an old sweet gentleman who knocked on the door and asked, would you want to take communion? I was like YES!!! Never in my life have I desired something so much with my heart and it came to me when I mostly needed it. The sweet old man looked at me and said “May God Bless You”. His eyes spoke with such love and compassion that I saw him as a sign of Jesus’ love and mercy who came to lift me up. His resemblance was gentle and comely. So after this it was time to go home. June 2nd 2017 was when I was scheduled for my mastectomy. It all went well and I fully recovered. I healed and took some time to give my body a rest. After I started radiation in September of 2017 and have been in remission since November 9th 2017. J
Being a Survivor
Going through this journey has changed my life. I feel more grateful for all the things I have in my life, my family, friends and especially my son. Just enjoying life (the simple things) to see my surroundings that I can walk, breathe fresh air, acknowledge nature and how it is created. I realize now more than ever life is beautiful even if it’s not perfect. I never thought I would be able to conceive again because several medical professionals advised the chances of me being fertile were very slim to none. My life now is better than what I could ever ask for filled with so many blessings. I am alive today, married for 3 years and currently expecting a baby girl.
Thank you again to Melissa who shared her personal story with us!