On Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, friends and family gathered to celebrate Melissa Waller’s 33rd birthday. Between tears and laughter they paid tribute to a courageous young woman who died on Thanksgiving Day from lung cancer.
The statistics tell us this is possible, but it still seems unreal. Waller, a fit, athletic, seemingly healthy young woman was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at the age of 31.
In her own words, here’s what she faced. “In early February 2009, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Adenocarcinoma (non small cell lung cancer). It is an extremely deadly disease and there is no cure. The cancer has metastasized to my bones, so at this point radiation and an operation is not an option to kill the tumors, they can only be used for palliative care. I will be going through Chemo over the next months in hopes that we can stop the spread of the cancer and maybe even send it to remission.”
Titled, “The Spirited Warrior,” the blog describes her as someone “who doesn’t let obstacles define her: She reinvents the rules.” Indeed, that’s exactly what she did.
Through nearly two years of treatment, with full knowledge that her cancer was terminal, Waller made the most out of every single day. She never sugar-coated what she was experiencing, but she also didn’t milk it for sympathy. The ups and downs of rigorous chemotherapy and the toll treatments took on her body didn’t daunt her spirit, it caused her to reflect on the many gifts friends and family and life had given her and to reach for more.
Waller’s lifelong wish was to travel to New Zealand - a benefactor made that dream come true in March 2010. The advance preparations and medical emergency arrangements alone would have intimidated many people, but they weren’t obstacles for Waller, just part of a to-do list so she could savor the beaches and other highlights. http://www.themelissawaller.com/2010/03/beaches/