MEA's Race Against Cancer
Melanie E. Andreasen, known by close friends and family as MEA (pronounced “May ahh”), has had a life-altering medical diagnosis and is going to need our love and support to get through what lies ahead.
Some of you have known her most of your life, growing-up with her in rural Illinois. Some know her from the events and hobbies she participates in, including automotive car shows, clubs, and car racing events. Some know her from meeting her at concerts ranging from Classical Orchestra performances to shows from the little-known European Metal bands that she is so passionate about. Some know her as the hostess that seats you at one of the most popular restaurants in town during the lunch shift most weekdays. And still, others know her for being a dedicated mother. She is 34 years old this year. No matter how you know Melanie, she needs our help to get through these difficult times.
In June of 2015, Melanie’s doctor uttered the words everyone dreads the most, “I’m afraid it’s cancer.” Melanie had suspected something was wrong for quite some time…but now the diagnosis was definitive and not exactly what she was expecting. Her doctor had seriously doubted the possibility of cancer, but the lab results proved otherwise and now far-reaching fears have become reality. The doctor explained what they knew at this point about Melanie’s situation and what they didn’t. The possible treatments and implications of each were explained and now she is beginning a process that is one of the hardest things that many people will ever have to face.
A follow-up visit with an oncologist in Atlanta, Georgia confirmed the diagnosis once again with limited options for treatment. Melanie’s type of cancer is usually diagnosed with routine tests long before the pre-cancerous cells turn into a visible growth or lesion. Melanie’s cancer is large and growing and the new doctors suspect she has been living with this for several years while being overlooked during previous examinations. Extensive surgery is required, and permanent, debilitating consequences may also be in her future. A subsequent PET scan gave inconclusive results as to the extent of the cancer’s movement. The surgery, scheduled for late August, will hopefully determine the scope of the treatment Melanie must undertake.
The initial shock of such a life-altering occurrence often requires a great deal of time to process and digest and the event could be crippling in and of itself. Melanie has been an extremely health-conscious person, incorporating a clean diet, exercise, and lifestyle into family life for the last 10+ years, making this diagnosis even more difficult to cope with. Melanie has come to terms with the enormous undertaking laid out before her and decided to meet it head-on. However, for the best hope of success, she needs the prayers and support of family, friends, and anyone able to aid in her quest to destroy this disease.
Melanie has very limited resources in the way of family and is mostly counting on a handful of friends to her pull through this. She is extremely grateful for those of you that have already chosen to reach out to her with love. Unfortunately, she is also going to heavily rely on her 15 year old son James to care for her after the surgery. This is a hard concept for her to face because she is normally very independent and self-sufficient. She retains a great deal of sadness for having to ask anyone to help and for placing a great deal of responsibility for her care on her son out of necessity.
A huge burden to anyone facing cancer is the enormous price tag of treatment. Even, with insurance, the cost still incurred by the patient can be overwhelming. I am reaching out to others to help fund this battle Melanie finds herself suddenly dropped into the heart of. In the weeks leading up to and after her surgery, Melanie is not able to work and will need help with the cost of food, power bills, home health care, gas and transportation to office visits and the enormous medical bills. Every donation, no matter the amount, will make a huge difference to Melanie and her family as they wage this battle. Melanie believes in the power of prayer and hopes that you will remember her in your prayers even if you cannot donate in any other way.
Melanie became a part of my life when she brought her family to visit our Civil Air Patrol Squadron five years ago. Her daughter Victoria decided to join the ranks of our cadets and soon became involved in nearly every level of training and activity offered. Melanie, the ever supporting mother, was there to encourage her daughter through every step. As the weeks and months passed by, Melanie’s shy and reserved demeanor began to fade away… slowly at first, then more and more quickly. The other members and I were genuinely privileged to witness her unwavering character, charming whit, and heart of gold. MEA became, not just a friend to us, but part of our family. As with any family member in need, it’s our duty to offer her our prayers, love and support. It is OUR turn to return the many blessings she has bestowed upon us.
Over the phone I heard the nurse telling me that, “The CT scan showed that you have tumors in your breasts. Those need to be addressed right away. We need to set you up with a referral and an appointment with the breast surgeon”. I needed a couple of moments to compose myself before I mumbled something about needing to check my schedule and I would get back to them.
I have had tumors in my breasts for almost 8 years. They first started to form around 2008 when I was 27 and moved from Illinois to Georgia. I had a lot of bad things happening in my life at the time and I understand now how that may have played a significant role in their development. My Ob-Gyn immediately sent me for tests. I actually had several doctors examine me before I was told that I had a specific non-cancerous type of tumors, and there were many, as much as 5 or 6 confirmed on each side. I was not willing to do a biopsy, but the doctors that gave me the diagnosis felt confident that this was not even necessary.
When I received the phone call from the nurse that day in October I was very angry. I had never had a call from the office about my test results and now I wasn’t even given the courtesy of a phone call from the doctor himself… it was his NURSE giving me news, over the phone, when I didn’t even know what was going on. I seethed about the callousness of it all. I wasn’t even healed from the surgery and they were already trying to point their fingers to something else! I had told my Ob-Gyn Oncologist about the breast tumors at the first appointment that I had with him… but like so many things I discussed with him, he seemed to completely disregard my words.
When I had my PET-scan early on I was very nervous about the test results because I was so scared that they would show traces of cancer in my breasts… and when it didn’t, I was incredibly relieved. This relief, coupled with the doctor telling me that, “As long as the cervical cancer hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes, this was the easiest type of cancer to treat” turned out to be big influencing factors in my decision to have the surgery. I have always been against traditional cancer treatments. I have always felt, in my heart, that there MUST be a better way to treat this terrible disease that doesn’t involve poisoning and mutilating women’s bodies, but in this case, I felt I was on a time schedule and fear was a huge motivator.
As I was waiting to be examined at my next appointment after the phone call, the nurse came into the room and handed me a sealed envelope. When I looked at it strangely, she said that it was the referral information I would need when I saw the breast surgeon and she would help me schedule an appointment before I left. Then she gave me a very sympathetic look that just made me feel like I was something to be pitied. I wanted to yell at her, tell her that they were all wrong about everything because I had already had it checked-out years before, but I also knew it wasn’t right to yell at anyone and she probably believes she is doing a wonderful job and is really helping people.
When the doctor came in, he confirmed I was also not healing nearly as well as expected. In fact, I was healing so poorly that at 8 weeks out from surgery, I was still actively bleeding. He told me this was abnormal. The doctor did not release me to go back to work. He also feels that I need to address the tumors in my breasts.
So I have come to a decision.
My decision is that I am not going to continue to follow the standard protocol that is cancer treatment in this country. I believe, with all my heart, that cancers can be cured holistically and without harmful side effects. There are REAL women out there, just like me, who believed that there was another way and sought alternative treatments that CURED them even despite being in advanced cancer stages. It IS possible and there is a growing community of people who are learning more and more about this every day. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the only legal forms of cancer treatment available in this country, so I will have to travel outside the United States to receive alternative treatment. Although the cost is reasonable, this will NOT be covered by my insurance. Treatment sessions are generally 2-4 weeks at a cost of around $10,000 per week. I am still trying to scrape by and provide for my son (with the help of the wonderful and generous donations from some of the kindest people I have ever known) and also by the sale of some of my own personal effects. But I can only sell so much before there is nothing left. I was already living a minimalist lifestyle when this began and there are not many possibilities on that front.
I noticed that around the time of the phone call from the nurse, my healing process from the surgery seemed to almost stop completely. I see now that stress is a MAJOR problem when trying to heal your body. Up until that time, I had been very hopeful. I had accepted the permanent side effects and was ready to be well, get back to work and move on with my life. I was making progress. The possibility of having a second (completely different) type of cancer absolutely devastated me. I was extremely depressed about it for a couple of weeks and actually felt like I was getting sicker by the day.
Recently I have had some reaffirmations about the power of positive thinking, but I’m not just forcing myself to feel this way. I really believe it. I always have, it’s just easy to lose sight of what you need to be doing when you are devastated and mired in despair. I like to think of myself as Atreyu’s white horse in The Neverending Story, but thankfully, I have managed to see that I am going about things in the wrong way, and I WILL pull myself out of this. I have already contacted a facility in Mexico with a very good success rate for healing cancer holistically. They have reviewed my case and believe they can cure me. I believe that God will provide me with what I need to make this journey and heal my body once and for all. Any help that anyone can offer me assistance, either with a donation, or by networking and sharing with someone who might be able to offer assistance would be greatly appreciated. I do not have a very large circle of friends, so I really need those that do to spread the word.
I do not know if or when I will be released to return to work. I might have to seek employment elsewhere, but I do NOT want to focus on negativity. I am not afraid anymore, I’m just ready to love life again.
I still have a very large amount of nice clothes priced to sell that will be going to Sisters Kids consignment sale held at the Troup Agriculture Building on the corner of Hamilton Road and Vulcan Material Road in LaGrange. The sale runs between Friday, October 30th to Saturday, November 7th (with Tuesday and Wednesday being restock days) 5:30 am-6pm. This is a HUGE consignment sale that takes days to prepare and would be great for any women and children needing clothes and accessories. All profits raised from the sale of my personal items (within the consignment sale) will go directly to this fundraiser.
It has been 23 days since I began treatment for my cancer with surgery consisting of a “radical” hysterectomy. During the surgery I had stents placed in my ureters to protect my kidneys during the procedure but they were removed before the anesthesia had worn off. A Foley catheter was also placed in my bladder and would remain with me for the next 20 days due to the fact that a surgery of this type does great damage to the bladder and it takes it at least two weeks to begin recovery.
I was allowed to leave the hospital two days after the surgery, but I was to be confined to the bed for over two weeks after that. The hardest part of bed rest was the fact that it was not possible to lay on my side at any time. I am a side sleeper and I also have severe carpal tunnel in my arms and when I lay on my back, one or both of my arms go numb. This is something I have always dealt with by shifting positions, but that was not an option during this time, so I was often extremely uncomfortable. I realized only a few days ago that I am finally able to lay on my side without extreme pain!
For the first four days after the surgery I was on Oxycodone for pain. I have never taken a pain medicine of this type or strength and it did not agree with me even though I was taking the lowest dose recommended to me. Suddenly, on the fifth day, I began to develop an allergic reaction to the pain medicine. This included every symptom listed for this drug, including those listed as “rare”. I also developed hives and large red “welts” around all of my incision sites. This development resulted in a trip to the nearest ER to obtain a different type of pain medicine and while I was there they performed a CT scan to check for blood clots because of pain I was having in my right leg.
Nine days after the surgery I began to develop a bladder infection from the catheter. Because it is normal for some bacteria to grow in the bladder while a catheter is in place, I was told beforehand that antibiotics were not usually given for the duration of use. I self-medicated with all known over the counter treatments for the next six days until it started affecting my whole body and I was extremely sick. At that point I had to go to the Emergency Room at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. They diagnosed me with a severe Urinary Tract Infection and I was given antibiotics.
On Friday, September 11th I had my Post-Op follow-up appointment with my OB-GYN Oncologist. He removed the catheter and prescribed a different type of antibiotic for the UTI that I was still fighting. He also ordered another CT scan to be performed immediately that day due to the increasing nerve pain/numbness I am having in my right leg. He told me that some pain is normal in the groin area due to the lymph node dissection performed during the surgery, but the nerve pain I am having extends all the way down my right leg into my foot and this is not normal. I am still awaiting test results from that CT scan and will update ASAP.
The good news is that my Doctor believes that all of the cancer was removed during the surgery. The situation is promising and hopefully I will not require further major treatment.
I am extremely grateful to everyone that has wished me well, checked-in with me, and prayed for a positive outcome. I ask that you continue sending positive energy and continue praying for my health and healing. I am also extremely grateful for the handful of those that have so generously donated to my cancer fund. Every donation made will make a difference in my life and for my son.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the financial aspect of my course. I have been away from work for almost four months at this point and any savings I had are now depleted. The surgery, hospital stay, and the addition of two extra visits to the ER, and consequently, two high dollar tests as a result are a frightening prospect. I have always been very responsible with my finances, and as a result, I did not start this journey with outstanding bills. Unfortunately now, I am growing fearful of the cost for basic necessities such as electricity and groceries. Any financial assistance, help, or support I can get in the coming months will be very necessary and deeply appreciated with all my heart.
My next appointment with my Oncologist is in four weeks and he will let me know at that time when I will be able to return to work and if I am cleared to drive again.
MEA.. Wish I was closer I would drive you to your appointments, cook some meals for you, help you with laundry, I am 12 hours away .... Made a donation... Here to support you any way I can!
Praying for you Mea!! Your a strong lady you can beat this...love you.
Love you MEA! I'm praying about what all I can do to help!