To my Family & friends near and far,
I know I have not posted anything in quite some time, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I am here. I was hit pretty hard this winter with the pneumonias etc. so spring was quite the recovery, in the meantime, I had been looking for homes online and when I started feeling better, I went out and checked some places out as well. I was searching online, driving around, going out with a realtor, going out with family and friends for what seemed like forever. I was having such a hard time, there were so many different things I had to think about... Obviously price is the big one, this area is so expensive, then if I were going to buy a home, I would have to make updates anywhere I go to make it functional for me, I want to be able to LIVE my life and not just get by day to day with help. I had to be very careful with the amount of renovations each house would need. Every house was going to need a new kitchen and bathroom that was functional so I did not want to buy a house that was newly remodeled and had a nice kitchen etc. Based on everything on the market, we decided it would be smartest to buy a fixer upper because we would have to change the big things anyway so why start off with something pretty, lets find a place that is going for a good price which meant it would not be in the best shape and we did that...
Last week, I closed on a little cape cod in Arnold, Maryland. It is currently a hot mess but we are hoping to gut the house for the most part and renovate the entire house to make it livable and functional for me, so that I can cook again, shower on my own, brush my teeth in a sink rather than in a bowl of water near my sink, reach my own clothes, get in and out of my house safely, and fingers crossed, have a porch that I can go sit outside all by myself and hang out with my dogs and watch my nephews play and just enjoy the day, take it all in, not from the 4 walls of my bedroom. This job is going to take a lot of work and all of my hope for a home fund which was raised by all of you, that is just incredible. It is going to be on a tight budget and I am going to need a lot of help along the way. This house has to go from basically nothing but the bones to a HOME for me to live in and regain some of the independence I have lost over the last two years. I don't even think I am really aware of how much this house COULD change my life and open doors. I will be able to do things for myself and I have always been a go getter and while I feel a little uneasy and a little scared about it now, all of my friends and family tell me as soon as I get a little bit of that independence back, I am going to want more and more because that is just who I am and that will change my life in so many ways and re route my future, I have been on such a bumpy road. When I had cancer I was scared but I knew I would get through it and I stayed focused, the second time, it through my life off, my plans, my goals, but I still managed to get through it with a great attitude and pushed forward. Now TM, has been much harder and more confusing and unclear as fas as my future goes. I can't say that I am not scared every single day, I can't really get a grip on that plan I once had laid out in my head and my heart, it's very scrambled now and I am not sure of much at all. I am sure that this house is going to help me and thats a good place to start, I may not know what is coming but I know I have been through more than most will go through in their lives and I have an army of support behind me that will help push me forward
There is so much crazy and scary going on in this world right now but at the same time, all of you are behind me and have been pulling for me and that is pretty spectacular to think about. I could not be doing this without all of your help. People have reached out to me from around the world to make this happen and that is mind blowing! I am so appreciative; you are all helping me find purpose in this life again and making it possible for me to go one and LIVE. My biggest fear was being alone in a nursing home because I was too sick to work and would not burden anyone to take care of me. I still am so afraid of so many things but my biggest fear has been crushed by all of you, I am not going to be in a nursing home, I will be in my own home and that is great place to start this new chapter of my life.
This is going to be a big project like I mentioned the house needs completely gutted and it will tkae some time but this is the first of many updates to come as we go through this new journey. Thank you all for standing by me as we start this. I will never be able to thank my old friend, new friends, my family and everyone all around the world for all of this amazing support but I will continue to do my best to make you all proud. i will be in touch real soon. All my LOVE. KCCO
Hi my peeps, I know I keep disappearing for too long at a time. This winter has not been kind to my body. I have spent most of the last three months in the hospital, although it has been the best few hospital stays I have ever had with all the support and visits and pick me ups that everyone has been doing, giving and being there for me more than ever now. I know my chive family has been so supportive in every single way. I have yet another pneumonia but I am trying SO HARD to get this stuff out of my lungs, I am in physical therapy even when I wake up and feel like I can't move or breathe well, I am still making it and pushing my body to get healthy.
I want to find a house! I did get the chance to look at a place I like in between hospital stays. It needs a lot of work... New cabinets and counters I can can access easily and reach better, flooring, we need to reconfigure and remodel the kitchen and the master bedroom, bathroom and closet for me so I can function all by myself, that would be my ultimate goal, I am so tired of feeling like a baby almost. I am so grateful that I have help and support but I want to cook again so badly and be able to shower all by myself and go in my closet and pick out clothes that I can reach and do my own laundry and be able to move around my house easily and in an open area where as now, where I am renting, the carpets kill my arms and its a very small place with lots of difficult areas for me to try and maneuver my way around. I would love to brush my teeth in a real sink, not a bowl and get ready in a bathroom that works for me. I know it is coming soon, I am so ready but I am SO LOST and not sure where to start when it comes to all these things. I may ask my chive family to help me and guide me and show me things I don't know. This is ALL NEW to me and I want to be independent so badly so I am getting really serious, I might make an offer on a house that we looked at that is very close to a lot of family members which would be good for the times I do need help or if there is an emergency.
When all this is ready and we have a place and I am settled, I want to have a meet up at my house in the warm weather hopefully in my big back yard if I get it, a housewarming cook out party! I want to see everyone that can make it, that would be the best day.
Anyone who feels that they would maybe want to help me or guide me through any of the things I have mentioned or if you are thinking of things that I have totally skipped over (I know its probably a lot), please reach out to me, I definitely need the support you guys always give me and I can't wait to get it moving and show you all the good and possibilities and opportunities you are bringing to my life. I thank you all so very much. I will never be able to pay you all back but like I have said before, I will always pay it forward. All of my love, Melissa
Hi guys. I know it has been a while since an update but just want to fill everybody in. This is Stephanie BTW. My sister has been pretty sick the last month or so. Pneumonia, some very strange skin condition and a bunch of other NOT FUN issues going on. Yesterday Johns Hopkins did a biopsy on a strange lump/infection that they are unsure of and we are awaiting those results. Today she will under go a lung surgery to take a look at some suspicious spots on/around lungs and to help clear out the pneumonia/infection that her lungs are to weak to do on her own thanks to chemo and radiation. I will continue to try and keep everyone as updated as possible. It kind of feels like one step forward 3 steps back but with the prayers, and love from all of the chivers, friends, family I know my sister will pull through this as she has every other time. She also celebrates her 30th birthday on Sunday Feb. 2nd so everyone keep her in your thoughts and lets hope the madness ends soon.
KCCO as always.
If you want/need to contact or or send anything to Melissa, please email me at HopeforMMS@Yahoo.com
I wanted to check in because I may seem a bit distant in the last month or so but I have been SO SICK! I was in the hospital for a while and am home now but feeling less than par. Today is the first day, I could even think about sending a text, making a call or reading an email but I don't want anyone thinking I'm ignoring or not around, I'm here, I'm trying to get better. Started with a nasty pneumonia and my body is working real hard to get well, unfortunately, it works a little slower than I would like it to! This set back is a big one as far as my progress with physical therapy which I've missed now for almost a month ugh :( that is so frustrating to me because that's my happy place and where I feel my best and where I'm getting strongest, I will get there, I always do. I just wanted to let you know that too. KCCO. Thank you for the support, these are the times I don't think I could make it without it. Sending all my love I posess, I hope everyone is living their days to the fullest and counting their prayers every morning, take it all in :). LOVE, melissa
Hi my lovelies.. Just wanted to let you all know that my standing frame is so awesome, Going to help my blood pressure, circulation, Build my muscles and strengthen my bones, all very important things for me at this point. My blood pressure has been so low, I'm on the verge of passing out, but all because of you guys, that will get better now. I'm going to start the house hunt now and plan to keep you totally updated... I might need some help if you don't mind getting down & dirty to renovate :) sending you all my love and hoping everyone has family and friends and warmth & love this holiday season. Thank you all for being on my side and carrying me through these harder times. I don't know where I would be without all of you. Remind yourselves everyday how special you are and how you've changed my life and many others. With love. M
Hi guys! Sorry it has taken us so long to update. Things have been crazy lately. Amazing, but crazy. I wish I could thank and hug each of you personally on behalf of my sister. I've seen her hope and smile change so much the past few weeks all because of Chivers all over the world. She was able to purchase a very expensive piece of equipment called a "standing frame" thanks to all of you. This will help with blood flow, blood clots, muscle gain and so many other things. It would never be possible without all of you. So thank you so very much. She is also currently working with a Realtor and looking into houses in the Anne Arundel County area... how exiting to be able to say that!! Lastly, we are currently looking into a place called ProjectWalk. It is based out of CA and from the looks of it... it changes peoples lives. We have read and researched this place and believe this could be an amazing opportunity for her if they accepted her and we could get her there... To read more about ProjectWalk... please refer to their site at http://www.projectwalk.org/
Any suggestions, kind words and help is always welcomed and appreciated. Please email at HopeforMMS@yahoo.com
Ill just leave this picture right here!! CHIVE ON!
Just finished reading a few more emails and responding and feeling so inspired. Next week I'm
Going back to physical therapy and I will have to send out some pics, you guys have truly changed my drive and motivation and I can't thank you enough. I am sending all the love I can and hoping everyone has the very best weekend! Lets all try to
Do something kind for someone else this weekend, making this world a better place a little
At a time, you all are. KCCO ðŸ’šðŸ’šðŸ’š
Everyone is so amazing :) I cannot believe all of this wonderful support that I am getting. I am still reading emails and writing back. I am loving this part of it all. I appreciate everyone so very much and all of these wonderful emails and kind words. You guys say I am inspiring you but I must say, all of you are inspiring me to be a better person and keep fighting harder, thank you so very much, with all my heart.
I have read some amazing emails today/tonight, these messages make me feel much better when I'm down! It means so much to me to have you sharing your stories with me, it's very encouraging to me as well! You say I'm inspiring you guys but the encouragement I'm receiving is pretty inspiring :) I'm going to sleep feeling a bit lighter than I did all day, thank you all for being here with me, you have no idea how much it's needed. Those prayers and thoughts are touching me and I need, want, love and appreciate them SO VERY MUCH. Sending my love guys, big time. KCCO ðŸ’šðŸ’šðŸ’š
Guys, I had a rough day today so I just went through some of my messages and comments and you all make me feel happier and better about myself, I can close my eyes now feeling much lighter remembering I have so many wonderful people on my side. Thank you. Means everything to me. I'm sending my love right back to you! xxoo KCCO
Still in complete shock that so much love and support is still pouring in from all over...It feels like a dream, STILL! All I have ever wanted to do was help people, and now I feel like in a way, I am. I feel so blessed and thankful to have this huge support system and FAMILY beside me and on my side. I can never give up and now because all of all of you I am actually looking forward to my future!! Any kind words, or people interested in helping through this journey can email HopeforMMS@Yahoo.com. #KCCO. Follow me on twitter guys, I love chatting with all of you !! @MMS_HOPE, and my sister who created this page is @Steph_smith123. LOVE YOU ALL!
I cannot put my computer down because I love the comments so much.
All of you are so incredible, you make me feel so lucky. I will always be paying this forward. I am trying so hard to keep up with my FB message, twitter and this.. I like talking to all of you and hearing all your kind words and stories as well. If I have not replied, I am getting there, some email addresses that I am not able to see but I can be reached at the email linked to this page and I am here for everyone and happy to be of any help I can be. I have gotten so many amazing letters that have brought me to tears and am so touched by all of it, I just want to be there as much as I can, I know how lonely these hard times can be, I have been in some very dark places in the last 7 years, Keep the loving words and messages coming, and I am sending you all LOVE and LIGHT and positive vibes right back as I receive them, Thank you all, KCCO!
P.S. I'm sorry for the people who are completely ignorant to what is going on, must be nice to have nothing to worry about but putting nasty, rude and such mean comments on people's pages. :( It is so sad. You will never have to understand any kind of struggle that I have been through or anyone that has had diseases that are so life changing and I am happy that you won't have to experience those things but you should not judge someone else, ever for any reason unless you've walked a few miles in their shoes or in my case, rolled. My entire 20's have been me fighting for my LIFE, you will never grasp that concept, thankfully, try to be a little more compassionate, you never know the truth to someones situation.
I am SO OBSESSED with all these messages, I am trying to move as quickly as I can to tell you all of what I am thinking and feeling. I had no idea this could ever happen to me. I will be showing all of you my progress as it goes along through pictures and messages. This is a big family KCCO
We are in COMPLETE awe. Best 24 hours of our lives watching so many amazing people come to the rescue of my sister. I cant wait for her to start house shopping. A down payment was a JOKE to these chivers. We are almost 7x PAST the goal that was set for this page... can you imagine what she is feeling in her heart? Her story has touched people all over the world and finally she is helping and inspiring people all over.. which is her only wish and dream in life! #KCCO. You all are amazing and have changed her life forever.
Woke up this morning to look at the site and had to pinch myself, this is Stephanie checking in again.. IS THIS REAL? Will my sister really be able to sleep at night in peace??! She is going to be able to BUY a house because of all these amazing CHIVERS all over!! We are so happy to be a part of the Chive Family. I wish anyone could imagine or understand what this does for Melissa... It turns her life completely around. Follow her on twitter @Mms_Hope and me at @Steph_smith123. Feel free to email at HopeforMMS@Yahoo.com as well :) #KCCO WE LOVE YOU #wegotyoumelissa !!!!!
I have been so afraid I would end up in a nursing home at my young age, You guys are washing that fear out of me, I'm so amazed, I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS to me, they mean so much to me. I am trying to go back to see all the ones I may have missed earlier when I did not have my computer, how incredible is this!?
I am so thankful, I just want to hug all of you, I am so overwhelmed, I am going to be able to live a little and function in a place that I can get around in and feel comfortable, I just never imagined this happening to me. I cannot believe it. FAMILY KCCO LOVE LIGHT LOVE LOVE PEACE
Holy Heart failure!!!!!!!!!
Hellllooooo lovely people!!! I really am struggling to put my feelings in to words, I just feel like there aren't strong enough words to thank you all. I have been reading all of these wonderful messages. They all mean so much to me, everything. I cannot believe this is happening to me. It has been such a long struggle and SO HARD and I realize I will be working hard my entire life, I am PRAYING that I can walk again sometime soon, just like all of you. I have been crying and laughing and have had goosebumps all day! Just walking into my little coffee shop and seeing so many CHIVERS there ready to support me, it was just so overwhelming.
I have asked myself so many times if I deserve this and how many others are having such a hard time everyday and I PROMISE that I will be paying it forward for the rest of my life, I know that I can never thank you all enough but I can pay it forward. The world can be a very ugly place these days and you all make it a much more pleasant place. It's truly a family and one that I am so happy to be a part of. I have wondered for so long if I would ever be able to shower on my own, cook myself a meal, drive, get in my bed on my own, all the little things, having an accessible place was a pipe dream and suddenly it seems like I can actually have these things, its incredible. I am in complete shock that this has happened to me. I have been really needing some good news and I must say this is far more than I could ever imagine.
I feel happy that I will have the chance to raise awareness for a disease that is much deserving of some awareness, it is so much more than just not walking.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I CAN NEVER REPAY YOU ALL. Keep your wonderful comments coming, I absolutely love them, it makes me feel so wonderful.
This is Stephanie, Melissa's sister.. I am watching my sisters reactions as these donations come POURING in from all over the nation and I cant stop smiling. Its a REAL smile, and a real breath of relief. She and I will be able to sleep at night knowing because of all you CHIVERS she will not end up in a nursing home, or living in a trapped house for the rest of her life! It is the most amazing and surreal moment of our whole lives and we have ALL of you to thank. I wish anyone knew what this meant. For SO long it has been let down, after let down and FINALLY it is a LIFT UP!!! #KCCO .. We love our entire CHIVE family. You guys BLEW that goal out of the water SO fast. A M A Z I N G!
Hi! Thanks for taking the time to visit, I am Stephanie Smith, Melissa's sister. I created this page to raise funds for a
handicap accessible home for my sister, as well as raise awareness of
Myelitis. After we had a bad fall out of Melissa's wheelchair outside of her small INACCESSIBLE rental apartment it became a crucial goal that I was determined to reach, to get her into an accessible home that is 100% safe, a home she could actually live in and not feel completely helpless and trapped. After 8 years of fighting, there is nobody more deserving. All donations made through this page will go directly to my sister and I hope and pray that we can get her what she needs and deserves......Read on.
At age 22
, Melissa discovered a golf ball sized lump in her neck. We had no idea what to expect but when they sent us to an oncology surgeon, it made us feel a little nervous. While we desperately hoped for the best, we were devastated to hear the diagnosis, Melissa had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The doctors told us that this cancer had a cure rate of 85% after treatment so we were super confident. She spent a great deal of time at the hospital back and forth for chemotherapy every other Friday. We would all sit in the room for hours and hang out with other patients or watch movies while she received treatment. It was never a big ordeal for her, she didn't talk much about it, just pushed through. She was so strong, even on Saturday mornings after chemo, she would take herself to work with a smile on her face. She continued to work full time as well as finishing her Bachelors at Towson University. Almost a year later, Melissa was in remission, what a relief, we could breathe.
After almost 3 years of remission, Melissa once again found a lump in her neck and once again heard the word CANCER. Her Hodgkin's Lymphoma had returned, more aggressively. That being said, the treatment this time was also much more aggressive. She received several types of chemotherapy for several months which doctors referred to as the "big guns" chemo followed by an Autologous stem cell transplant. This knocked her immune system out completely and Melissa was very sick within 24 hours of starting all of this treatment and Hopkins became home for over a month so she could be monitored. There were infections and fatigue and her body refused to make platelets and we needed to have so many blood transfusions and the list goes on; while incredibly painful for Melissa, she never lost her smile. After cancer the first time, Melissa began taking classes again to be a nurse and give back, she worked so hard and while she was finishing up her transplant she found out she was accepted to nursing school with a 3.75 GPA, this had to go on the back burner for the time being since she still was not finished with her treatment. Melissa knew as soon as she was sick the first time that she wanted to be a nurse and it made perfect sense because she has always been the first person to help ANYONE in need. Melissa finished her 28 days straight of radiation in November that year. Months later, we heard the word again, REMISSION!
All of these accomplishments, putting herself through college, beating cancer TWICE, her admission into a nursing program, were shadowed in 2012 when a tingling on her legs grew until she was tripping and dragging her feet, often to the point of falling. We were back at Hopkins and Melissa was in excruciating pain but all of her spinal taps came back clear and doctors were at a loss. Further testing revealed that she had developed an extremely rare neurological disease called Transverse Myelitis in which the immune system attacks its own spinal cord. The disease started to spread so fast once they found out what it was. At one point it reached my sisters blood brain barrier and the doctors told us that she wasn't likely to make it through the night if it crossed over this barrier BUT it didn't! There is not a specific cause for this disease and there is no cure either. One thing that is so important to know about TRANSVERSE MYELITIS is that it DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. While, my sister had other health issues before TM, one would think that it was linked to the history but in most cases we have ever read or heard about, people affected are healthy as can be and it takes them over all of a sudden. This disease affects all ages including little babies.
Currently Melissa has been left paralyzed from the chest down and is confined to a wheelchair. Her life has been flipped completely upside down. Simple everyday tasks, we take for granted, she cannot perform unassisted, including going to the bathroom, cooking meals, taking a shower, getting dressed and the list goes on. My sister has always been the most independent person that I know and has been the one that always helped all of us and anyone else but never needed the help, she has always taken care of herself and everyone around her so this has been a tough transition, it is a work in progress to say the least.
My sister is the strongest person that I know and that being said after 7 plus years of fighting for her life, it has taken its toll on her in every way. She has always bounced back so quickly from everything and pushed herself after cancer, as she LOVED the gym and working and being around her friends and family, she dove back into her life head first. Now there have certainly been times she simply retreats and isolates. The stress of not being able to work and take care of herself and her endless medical bills and loss of independence is weighing on my sister so heavily at this point. This is frightening to me and my family and ALL of her friends as stress can trigger TM. Melissa should be back in physical therapy in the next couple of months which helps her so much since she has always loved the gym anyway and it has always been her stress relief, it helps her feel more normal and like she is making progress. She only gets so many physical therapy appointments every year because of insurance purposes so these times are very important to all of us.
We do not know what the future holds for my sister but our goal for Melissa would be to find her an accessible place to live and function once again. If she was able to live in a fully handicapped accessible home, I believe her spirits would lift dramatically. She has ahard time getting in and out and has two dogs she adores that have been with her through all of this and she doesn't get to take them on long walks anymore, she hasn't been able to cook for herself in over a year, it's the simple things she misses the most, the things that we don't even realize are privileges and luxuries. Another goal would be to raise enough to put hand controls on Melissa's car once shecan get one as her car was on a lease which made sense 3 years ago but not today, that lease ends in May. She hasn't been able to drive in over a year and having to depend on everyone else to get her fromplace to placeand all of her appointments is tough and she just doesn't have that independence anymore which is such a big loss.
While our WONDERFUL community has come together to support Melissa, that money goes quickly. My sister and I would also love to help raise awareness about Transverse Myelitis as it is such an unknown and relatively unstudied disease. It is hard to get funding for TM since the disease isn't "popular" but it is so important to us as this disease is SO MUCH MORE than not walking. My sister would be so happy if she could help represent this disease and be there for anyone and everyone who has any questions or feels like they can't handle all the hard things that come with TM. Just reach out to us, I know she will do whatever she can to help anyone she can.
We will continue to share her story until she is in a comfortable living place and can find her independence once again.
Any donation of any amount is much needed and so appreciated. #KCCO