Many of us have experienced first hand the reality that life's fortunes can turn in a moment. Melissa Harrington's life has taken such a turn. While focused on working to build up her community and family, Melissa and Paul received her diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer in November of 2015-just days after their tenth wedding anniversary.
Melissa was the executive director of the Fulton Street Farmer's Market from 2008 until May of 2017. Throughout those years, she was also volunteering her time as a member of the Urban Agriculture Comittee of Grand Rapids, the Heartside Gleaning Initiative, and the Michigan Farmer's Markest Association. No doubt she would still be serving our community today if her health would allow. But today, she is focusing on managing her diagnosis of this extremely agressive cancer, and making memories for her two small children and husband.
The five year life expectancy for women with this type of cancer is much lower than other types of breast cancer, but Melissa is still here with us today. She has undergone several surgeries, 3 rounds of chemotherapy, goes to radiation 5 times/week and has participated in 3 clinical trials.
Melissa is a fighter and a giver. But the truth is, fighting cancer is long , time-consuming, and expensive for the whole family. Her husband Paul has been on a leave from work since December of 2015 assisting Melissa both medically and professionally. She had to retire in May. Her sister Antoinette took a leave from work for over a year to help with the kids. Their mother, Sharon, took an early retirement to help Melissa, Paul and their two sons Silas (6) and Xavier (2). They currently have no income as Melissa awaits her (hopefully) approval of disability.
Please consider donating to this family to ease their financial stressors. As a community, we have the opportunity to give back to someone who has given so much to us. And if we all give a little, it can have the enormous impact of allowing this family to focus on each other and the task at hand.
- Tammy Schneider
- Wayne Homyak
- Greg M
Organizer and beneficiary
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