(Melissa and Jayce)
Always present at Melissa's house, are another micro-family of rescued animals. Melissa, her children, and their friends, are all animal lovers and rescuers, so while it may not be a shock to us that Melissa currently takes care of eleven, of what she calls her "fur babies," most people are surprised. All of these animals have made their way home with Melissa, while others Melissa has rescued and then found forever homes for. Whether they are on the street outside, or someone reaches out, Melissa always opens her home to animals. Melissa loves her animals just like she loves her children. Among the pack are three dogs, Kanye and Meatball, two gentle giants whom Melissa rescued from an LA shelter, as well as BooBoo, A small Yorkie mix who is the outspoken pack leader, among the animals at least. Also parts of the family are Melissa’s cats. The cat that Melissa rescued most recently is named Coco, she came to Melissa's door as a tiny infant without a mother and Melissa took her in as her own. Coco has slept right next to Melissa every night since, and has refused to have it any other way. Lastly is Luna's rabbit Lunar, who is the silent Queen. She is usually sitting in her little strawberry house. She rules with her King Boo, and has already started to inspire jealousy among a cat or two.
(Top left: Symba, rescued cat; Top right: Lunar; Bottom in left to right order: BooBoo, Meatball & Kanye)
Melissa has worked as a waitress at The Kettle in Manhattan Beach for over twenty years. You may have had the pleasure of meeting her there if you have ever stopped by for a late night snack, or meal. She loves her job very much. I remember the first time I got to visit her at The Kettle when I was younger. She had the biggest smile on her face as she introduced me to all of her coworkers as her son. It was double the joy for her having her family at her work. She may be a little tired now from working so hard for decades, but Melissa truly does love what she does and she truly loves her customers. She treats her customers and her coworkers with the same love and kindness she does her family. In every walk of her life, she touches hearts, which is rare.
(Melissa and Luna)
I wish I was here to just tell everyone about Melissa's positive personality and life, but I am not. I'm here to tell the part of the story that has led her family and friends to GoFundMe. The week of Thanksgiving 2014, I was getting ready to visit Los Angeles from Northern California where I currently reside. I received a call from Melissa the morning I was set to leave and she let me know that she had been in the hospital for a few days, and had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Yes, the mother, not only to her kids, but metaphorically to a dozen other young adults, has become sick with one of the worst diseases. Melissa has been dealing with pains and other symptoms for well over a year now, but she had been turned away from many Los Angeles hospitals, which refused to treat or diagnose her properly. Instead, they most often sent her home with some Tylenol to help with the pain. It was not until she was admitted into USC’s Los Angeles Medical Center that she received proper diagnostic testing, as well as her diagnosis, and great care.
The next day, together with two good friends whom are also part of our little family, we went to the hospital to see Melissa. A mix of anxiety and fear seemed to take over my mind. I didn't know much about the disease of cancer. Just things I've picked up here and there. We got to the hospital and Luna was right by her side. As soon as I saw Melissa and Luna, my nervousness ceased, the fear was gone. There was my sister and my mother, the same strong women I had seen just a few months before. After some big hugs, we sat down and it was the usual, love and laughter, and as always with some sass. How could I think anything could stand in their way? We talked for hours, Melissa affirmed to us if she was going to lose her hair from chemo, we would be seeing her at work in pink wig. Our friend Miguel assured her she'd have the finest pink wig, with a lace front.
Today, Melissa is preparing for treatment. As of December 5th, Melissa has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the bladder, initially thought to be isolated to her bladder, but most recently found to also be located in the lymph nodes all In the back, pelvis and adrenal glands, which has enabled the cancer to spread to her uterus. Being in stage 4, the cancer is aggressive and fast moving, which is cause for Melissa to begin chemo therapy immediately. Though initially in a state of shock, Melissa has accepted this fight for her life. Despite working for years as a single mother, she is not tired and still holding her head up high to live. I was having a hard time fearing and thinking the worst when I found out Melissa had cancer, but she, herself, was the one who very quickly dismissed those negative thoughts from my head. Melissa has shown nothing but strength and positivity right from the start. A day after she was released from the hospital, diagnosed with cancer, Melissa went right back to work at The Kettle. Yes, literally the day after, despite her friends and family not wanting her to. It was not until that first shift, that she came to the realization that it would not be feasible for her to continue working, while fighting cancer. She did not believe the doctors when they said she wouldn't be able to work, she needed to see it for herself. Her pain is increasing in intensity on a daily basis, thus work is simply not going to be possible, especially with chemotherapy that will start soon. Over the next three months Melissa will be in undergoing treatment. It will be a tremendous struggle and battle to keep her finances stable during this period of treatment, which is why we are seeking help with funding. The responsibility of rent, bills, groceries, alternative treatments, and the costs to keep the rescued animals, will fall heavily on Melissa's daughter Luna, as she is already working as much as she can, all while being the number one supporter of her mother.
With kind, thoughtful and generous donations from this caring online community, friends, and family, we can ensure that this beautiful family is kept safe and healthy in their time of need. As independent and strong of a woman as Melissa is, she needs help. This is a woman who has spent her life selflessly helping humans and animals, and now it is her time to receive the same support, kindness, and love back. Let’s make sure Melissa Meyer can truly take the time to relax and heal as she undergoes treatment, and does so strongly. Let's make sure her family is safe and secure as they fight cancer right by the side of their mother!
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- Claire Anne
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