My Story

Oct 18 2010

Has Melissa's music and message helped you, a friend or loved one get through the difficult battle with cancer? Email us your story. We will be featuring stories throughout the month of October.

My story has a happy ending. September of 2003 was a terrible year. My dad was diagnosed with cancer, my mom passed away and after the funeral, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is a very scary time no matter how early you catch it. Mine was in the very earliest stages and I had a lumpectomy and radiation. I have been cancer free for 7 years from diagnosis. I had the best support group ever and every day during my radiation, I received a little gift by a secret support group member. I never saw anyone putting them on my porch but something was there almost every day. A card, some candy, some sort of sign of love and caring from my family and friends. At the end I was given two parties. One out of state with family in Colorado and one instate by family and friends in SC. Nothing could have been a better medicine to lift the spirits of someone whose husband worked far away and couldn’t be there with me.
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At first I felt like I was going through it all alone. But it didn’t take long to see that I wasn’t alone. Along with my family and friends, I came to realize that many things influenced the way you went on every day. Melissa’s song "I Run for Life" came out shortly after my treatment ended. The first time I heard it, I cried all the way to work that day, but just the words inspired me to get a hold of myself and get in shape and get on with living my life. I was a fortunate one. My sister had died of breast cancer 5 years earlier and I watched as she tried to cling to her life every day. She was 51 years old. I count my blessings every day. I have an aunt and a cousin going through treatments now and we pray every day that some blessing will be laid on them, the way it was with me.

I saw Melissa at Candlestick Park last May and she was wonderful. It was the very best concert I have ever been to, and she is still such an inspiration to me. Keep up the good work and I will too. Thanks for inspiring so many people out there that you have never met. With all my heartfelt gratitude! Gail G.

My mom died from breast cancer when I was only five years old. Melissa has always been a huge inspiration in my life both for her music and her courage. I have had the opportunity to see her live many times. I loved each and every concert and the way Melissa always makes me feel that she is singing to me, in particular. When breast cancer knocked on Melissa's door, I anxiously awaited her return to touring. Fortunately, I was able to go to Las Vegas to see her kick-off her return to the stage. I was at Caesar's Palace and the date was June 18. June 18 happens to be the date my mom passed away in 1968. That particular concert was, perhaps, the most moving Melissa concert EVER for me. In fact, I wrote a letter to Melissa and asked the hotel staff to deliver it. I wanted her to know how much she affected me. Ironically, I saw her perform at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN in 2008.....again on June 18! When she was singing "I Run For Life," she called people to come forward if they wished. I was balling my eyes out, feeling such a connection to Melissa, and I actually got to shake her hand!

Thanks, Melissa, for sharing these days with me. The anniversary of the death of a loved one can often be a difficult day to get through. Thanks, Melissa, for sharing these two with me and helping to ease my pain with your beautiful, inspiring songs!

One of Melissa's biggest fans in Chicagoland - Wanda G.

What I enjoy about Melissa's music is in how she writes about her life, though others can place their stories in her songs as well. So that sense of relationship means so very much to many a people, and I love her for that. My story is very sad for me in that it seems that my family has been plagued with cancer these past few years. My father had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he passed away in 2005 (I miss him very very much). Seven months ago two of my dear aunts passed away one month from each other. My Aunt Terese on my mother's side (she was like a second mom) passed away of stomach cancer. Then the following month my Aunt Julie on my father's side (close to her as well) passed away of a cancerous brain tumor. I have been having a tough time with such a loss of loved ones, and my world sometimes seems so lonely. I can say that my faith in God, remaining family, friends, and Melissa's music really helps me to get through some of the tough times. Thank you for letting me share my story, for sometimes it helps when I am feeling so sad and lonely. - Danette P.

Hi my name is Bridgette and my journey started back in 2001. I wasn't living my life right and was very much into the drugging and the party life,well that never last long and I found myself in a women's correctional facility. A few days after I got there a doctor told me the lump I had in my chest was breast cancer and that something needed to be done. He didn't say what at that point but sent me back to a cell, no pamphlets, no counselor, no nothing just me and my head,and boy that was a scary place to be. At that time, I was coming off drugs sitting in prison and now diagnosed with breast cancer!!! talk about scared to death!

There was no music in the part of the prison I was in Music is like my center and it soothes my soul no matter my situation, and at this time i needed it sooo bad. Then like something magical one of the cos at the end of the hall turned her cd player on and I heard.. "hello hello this is romeo"...and through my tears I couldn't help but smile. I layed there and listened to almost the whole cd feeling sad but somehow better. Ironic how she would play "Brave & Crazy" right at that moment. My life changed in that moment and I knew I was in for the fight of my life.

I fought and came out the other side a lot different but a lot better too. I came home never did drugs again, made amends for the pains and hurts I caused the people I loved, and today I still fight. I had a tumor last year and by the grace of god it was benign and I'm ok. I saw Melissa three times this year and hope to again real soon. She is an inspiration to women everywhere. "I Run For Life" is incredible!!! Melissa is incredible and someday before my day, I'd love the chance to tell her so. Until then keep doing what your doing and I'll be right here running :)

On the day I was diagnosed, I had tickets to the Melissa Etheridge Concert in Deer Valley, Utah in August of 2002. My biggest dream has been to meet her in person one day. Here is my story.

One of the greatest lessons and gifts I have learned is, life is not to be taken for granted! Live each day with no regrets and enjoy the sunshine, because none of us know what our future brings. Diagnosed with breast cancer on August 24, 2002. I under-went lumpectomy surgery on September 3rd, followed by six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation treatments. This life changing series of events could have been devastating and often is; however, I chose not to let it!

I coach volleyball and softball at the high school level and after my diagnosis, my athletes chose to wear pink ribbons with my name to every practice and game. They were committed to wearing them until I beat the cancer. My sixth graders begged to wear my wig and watching their reaction to a bald-head relieved me of ever wearing it again. Their support meant the world to me and partially because of the kids, I missed only thirteen days of school through my surgery, 6 months of chemotherapy, and seven weeks of radiation.

Instead, I vowed to do whatever I could to help in the battle against this number one cancer killer of women. In April of 2003, only eight months after my diagnosis and while still involved in chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I organized a “breast cancer hit-a-thon” to raise money for breast cancer research. The RHSM softball team rallied around me, as did three public schools in the state, and $12,000 was donated to research. In the 2004 hit-a-thon, my efforts were to involve as many young people as possible in this endeavor, we involved students from seven public schools and were able to raise a total of $22,000 for breast cancer research. In 2005 & 2006, 20 more school softball teams joined the efforts and over $24,000 was again donated a total of $125,000 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

My passion for this project led to the establishment of what in 2007 became known as “Swing for Life, Inc.,” a not for profit organization whose annual mission is to host fund-raising hit-a-thon events to raise money for breast cancer research, we now donate it to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation because we found out 100% of the dollars raised goes to research without any taken out for overhead. As long as I can, I will keep building this foundation until we find a cure. Every year we enlists more and more teams and sponsors who make monetary donations directly to Swing for Life or donate merchandise or gift certificates that I then uses as door prizes to help make the hit-a-thon event even more fun for the participants. I organize student volunteers who take on a myriad of jobs that need to be completed in order for the hit-a-thon to succeed. Determined to make the opening ceremonies of the Swing for Life event special, I also involve the local media, and have even been able to enlist the help of the Jazz Bear, Bumble the Bee, and Utah Grizzlies, Grizzbee at the event!

It’s been 8 years and I have been blessed with good health and have kept the cancer from coming back. No matter how big Swing for Life becomes, I will always make sure 100% of the money goes to breast cancer research, we have a board of trustees that will never take a salary. I enjoy every minute I put into this and truly believe that my life has been changed for the better because of it. I can’t say enough about the kids or Swing for Life's Co-Founder, Kendra Tomsic, they have become soul mates on a mission and learn first-hand what it means to be involved in service for the greater good of others. I compare it to the movie ‘Pay it Forward’. If everyone did something special to make it better for someone else, we would eliminate a lot of terrible things in this world! These teams compete on the field but have learned more important lessons off the field with Swing for Life; how to make a difference in the community by giving back their time and efforts in finding a cure that could effect a family member, friend, or even themselves.

My message to others that battle this ugly disease; don’t let the beast win! Get in, detect early, and fight like a giant with the best of attitude. I think pink everyday! Nobody plans on getting this handed to them in their life but take these lemons and make “Pink Lemonade” www.swingforlife.org

Thanks for your time, join us at Swing for Life, our youth community making a difference - Kathy H.

I am a midwestern gal in the entertainment culture who appreciates Melissa's story. I staff musical events in the area and have been a M.E.I.N.member for years now.

I lost my guardian mother, she was also my grandmother, to breast cancer. I have been driven/inspired to also become a hospital certified REIKI Master and volunteer at the Sutter Health Women's Integrative Health Services clinic in Santa Rosa, CA. Free and Sliding scale health care for any woman with any type of cancer. I recognized many of these women at Melissa's Fearless Love Tour last August. It was moving for me to see them up front and center.

It is the most rewarding service I can offer to the world and I want to tell everyone about it. "WOW!" is the most consistent comment women make after a REIKI treatment. Had I known these techniques as a young woman in Iowa in the late 70's I would have offered more comfort to a precious woman in my life - my mom, "Pete.". So now I promote alternative healing modalities. - Pamela "Pete" J.

Hi! in 1995 Melissa Etheridge sent me an autographed photo because I could not go to her concert because I was having radiation treatment for throat cancer. I was so sad to not be able to use my ticket. My girlfriend at the time approached someone who worked for Melissa and Melissa Etheridge took the time to write me a note saying "Love and Peace" and she signed it. I had another cancer in 2007 in my mouth again but I'm still alive! I would like thank Melissa for the photo and her music that helped me so much during that difficult time. - Celine B.

Michelle and I have been friends since we were teens. I'll never forget the phone call I received the weekend of my 42nd birthday. I was at Pow Wow, "Perfect place for you to be while I tell you what is happening." were the words Michelle spoke with a serious tone. "We will be having a Titty Funeral!," she said. " I have a large lump in my right breast, it's cancer. Both breasts will be removed as soon as they can schedule an operating room." I was stunned, slumped down as if kicked in the gut. No, No, NO!!! I screamed in my head! It doesn't have to be this way. "There are other ways to beat this," I said. "I'm ready. I don't need these breasts. I do need to live. I do need to be here with Bev. I'm OK with it." Bev her partner of more than 20 years was ill.

Ok, where do we go from here? I myself have had great success with natural medicine, bio-feedback, homeo-pathics, herbs, color therapy, light therapy, harmonics, and going within to heal. I had helped so many to discover the wonders of the natural ways I thought I could do same for Michelle. I soon learned that this was Michelle's journey and she had decided to not take that avenue. Knowing this beautiful being and the strength she had always shown I trusted her power to heal. We spent many days and nights exploring fears and dreams. Melissa's music often being shared.

About a month before her scheduled double mastectomy, I heard these words from my own doctor, "There is a lump in your right breast. It is cancer." I smiled as I looked into his eyes and said, "Don't worry Doc. It is not mine. It will soon be gone." Not taking any chances he began treating me with Pau de Arco, various homeopathic detox formulas my own body chose, and of course lots of water. I had a follow up visit the same day Michelle had her surgery. Both of our doctors announced that day that we were FREE of cancer! We had survived!

I often reflect on the lessons learned and often discover new lessons while doing so. I'm compelled to share the following: Cancer is a DIS-EASE. While it comes from many different sources it starts with an internal acceptance. An imbalance within. One must explore that darkness at it's source, within. As an archery demonstrator, I tell my students, "Never take your eye off your target!". Michelle and I both dreamt of living long healthy lives. This is our target. We each chose to heal in our own way. Healing comes from Living Ones Own Truth.

Journey well, dream big and Create Freely
Short Bo Spirit

Hi,
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago it stunned me and my family. Though I am in the medical field and had a suspicion that something was wrong I was still not prepared for the diagnosis to be positive for breast cancer. Everything happened over the course of a month.
I first noticed a fine redness under my breast and later that afternoon I did not feel well and had drainage. I went to the emergency room because I thought perhaps it was an infection. The doctor that treated me was very kind, and sat down and talked with me. She told me that she had talked with a surgeon and that I should go and see him the next day as she was suspicious. This was a fast growing tumor and I knew it, as I could feel it.

I had several mammograms and an ultrasound but nothing was definitive, until I had a breast MRI. Then the lump was seen. Core biopsies confirmed that I had ductal carcinoma insitu. I went home and called my best friend and cried. The surgeon gave me my recommendations and I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction done. My next trip was to the oncologist. I had four rounds of chemotherapy. I lost my hair but tolerated the chemo treatments fairly well. I was lucky I did not have to have radiation treatments.

During all of my treatments I thought about my life and how I was living it. I decided to do things for myself that I had not yet completed, like going back to college. I also listened to Melissa's music and thought about the strength she provides to others in her music. I share my story with others now to let them know that surviving breast cancer can be achieved and that life is precious and to be enjoyed.

Terri
aka Nowhr2go