Lover of: my family, my friends, and good food & wine
This was Mel`s answer when I asked her about what she loved. Simple and definitive. She spoke this way about many aspects of her life and as I got to know her, I realized she was a pragmatist with a beautiful heart. Friends and family were her soul. The end.
When we first spoke on the phone before the metastatic Stretch Heal Grow retreat in 2015 she talked about her husband Jason, her twin little girls Frances and Harlow, and about Michele, her identical twin sister, with the kind of love and passion reserved for only the elite in her life.
There is no doubt that Melanie touched people and the relationships in her life flourished because she approached them with 100% love. She was all-in and it was important to her to focus on the here and now, not on what the future would hold for her and her illness. She told me how living with metastatic cancer affects her day-to-day and I was inspired by how she refused to let her illness define her. She talked about how she preferred the comfort and company of friends and family to other models of support, and how she enjoyed the distraction of continuing to work in spite of it all, for as long as she could.
She declared herself a`realist’ to me, and I think this allowed her to live her life fully and ultimately share her story to help other women with metastatic cancer feel supported and loved too.
In addition to our LiveLaughLearn series, Melanie also participated on our Young + Metastatic panel where she spoke about the needs of young metastatic breast cancer patients and the impact on their caregivers. She had a deep understanding about the important role her loved ones played in supporting her in her struggle with cancer, and advocated for their support needs.
She seemed more concerned for their future wellbeing once she was gone, then the fact that the reality of her disease would cause her to say goodbye too soon.
Each woman I have had the privilege of working with through Rethink has taught me something important. A little nugget of knowledge or inspiration that stays with me…from Melanie I learned that there is mighty strength in loving the ones you`re with, especially when you have to leave them before you are ready.
* Photos courtesy of Catherine Hudon/5Mphotographie