A Childhood Cancer Survivor Blogging about the World of Childhood Cancer

Archive for July, 2010

Exciting stuff!

July 15-18, I was down in Los Angeles for the PULSE dance convention!  What an AMAZING experience!!!  I had SO much fun!  I took master classes from Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, Wade Robson, Dave Scott and more!  To be taught by such respected and incredible choreographers and dancers made me SO excited! =D 

Lately, I have been so busy that blogging has been moved to the back burner…but now I’m back!  I spoke at the Keller Williams Inspirational Breakfast in Avila Beach a little over a week ago; it was so nice to see a company so dedicated to making a positive impact on the community!  They are actively involved in the fight against cancer…I can’t thank them enough!  It was truly my pleasure to speak for such a wonderful company!  The following day, I spoke at a support group run by Marian Cancer Care.  This was a special time for me because I got to sit down and talk to people who “understood”.  I saw many people who were there nodding their head in agreement as I shared my story with them…they knew EXACTLY what  I was talking about and how it felt.  Recently, I spoke at a career exploration camp for middle schoolers.  It was definitely a new experience talking to kids that age!  They’re a tough crowd!  But it all worked out, I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure that they did too! 

OH! I almost forgot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We received books!!!!!!!!!!!  I am SO pleased with the new edition and very thankful to Greenleaf Book Group for their amazing hard work!  Grace is now ready to be introduced to the world! =D

Dr. Maya Angelou and PULSE on Tour

What does Melinda have to say today about Dr. Maya Angelou?

Yes, I have posted before about Dr. Angelou. I have great admiration for her writing, and even more admiration for the person she is. I love to hear her recite her own work. For these reasons, and more, I used one of her quotes in my book. (Not going to tell you which one– hee hee!) 

Since I used one of her quotes, I felt that the very least I could do would be to send her a copy of Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery.

Guess what? Dr. Maya Angelou sent me a beautiful thank you note. I am so happy to know that she received it, and this kind expression of gratitude makes me think even more of her. Isn’t it inspiring to communicate with people who have integrity and class?! I imagine that Dr. Angelou receives many gifts, but she takes the time to show her gratitude.

Sadly, writing thank you cards is becoming a lost art. Speaking of arts…

Do you ever watch “So You Think You Can Dance?” I’m sure this will come as a big surprise– I love the show! This weekend, I will travel to Los Angeles to dance my little feet and heart out for three days at PULSE on Tour. There is an incredible organization called Children’s Cancer Recovery that has given me a scholarship to attend and I am so excited, I feel that I just may pop!  Mia Michaels is one of the choreographers I will be learning from. Oh my gosh!

Remembering all of those days where I was too sick to dance makes me grateful on top of grateful that I can attend PULSE–and most of all– grateful that my body will let me dance!

DANCE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

International Charter of Rights

Are you familiar with Matthew Zachary? How about “I’m Too Young for This?” I have to tell you that they are doing one amazing job of giving everything they have to help young people (15-40) with cancer. Now, they are working together with other organizations, like LIVESTRONG, to create an International Charter of Rights for young people with cancer. Young people face many different challenges when confronted with cancer than those who are older.

For one… it takes much longer for young people to get a diagnosis and many times, we are misdiagnosed. Very unfortunately, as most everyone knows, this means that their cancer spreads further. I can personally connect with this. It took nearly four months of going to the doctor every week (and having her look at my mom and I like we were out of our ever-loving minds!) and my mom had to stand her ground and demand tests before I finally received my diagnosis. Four months. Four months!

Imagine how much cancer can spread in four months!

In the meantime, I was slowly suffocating. I realize this is not my doctor’s fault.

And I am not the only one. I care about the others.

Here comes the easy part…  this will only take a moment to show your care.

Please sign the charter. You may save someone’s life. 

Thank you i2y Stupid Cancer, Teenage Cancer Trust, CanTeen, LIVESTRONG,  and SeventyK.!

I love my life!


Larry is Nine!

Boom, Kaboom…. Crash, Bang, Boom!

Yesterday, Larry turned nine years old. I will never, ever forget the day my mom brought him home to us. He was only 7 weeks old; he had a big, pink belly, and his ears were bigger than his body. He loved snuggling in his blankets then, and he hasn’t lost the joy of being wrapped in soft blankets to this day. This love of snuggling in blankets helped him through the trauma of fireworks on July 4th.

Each year, when Independence Day rolls around, poor Larry comes unglued when the fireworks begin popping. This year, we wrapped a blanket over his head (covering those huge ears) and he remained calm, cool and collected the entire evening. Somehow we cannot bring ourselves to sedate him with substances, so this “natural” form of sedation is a beautiful find!

Larry came to bed last night in my room, as he always does, with a belly full of his once-a-year ice cream treat. He knew it was a special day. We awakened to thunder and lightning at 4 AM. Poor Larry shook and shook. I don’t know which he dislikes more– fireworks or thunder and lightning!

For all of you who love dogs, I will add this article to my story:)



Oh my gosh… this makes me think of all of the survivors… and everyone who did not survive. It makes me think of how, even when we are alone, we are strengthened by the love and care we share.

It makes me grateful for everyone who is giving it their all to leave this world a better place. Yes– a world without cancer is absolutely a much better place.

Where’s my bike?????????????????


Memoir Writing Class

I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of people today who are taking a memoir writing class. It strikes me that the more opportunities that I have to connect with authors, the more I realize how important it is for us to do this. Writing is such a solitary existence– the human-ness in us needs the bonds.

Not only do we benefit from the “love bonds” between us, but there is always, always something new that we can learn from one another. There is no such thing as “smarter” or “better,’ but only our willingness to share the uniqueness of our lives and ourselves with each other. Seriously, when we learn something of value, we need to pass it on. I guess that the challenge is to look within ourselves to find exactly what that is that we have to share.

I realize, being only sixteen years old, that I do not have the wisdom and insights that others who have been on this Earth a long time have. The more I learn, the more I learn that I have bunches to learn. Maybe, because I am only sixteen, I just might have an insight to some things in life that my older counterparts would not recognize. Maybe, just maybe, I have something to share of value.

Actually, everyone has something of value to share. Our job is to find it– and give it away.

Poppy’s Birthday and InspireMeToday

Tomorrow (7/6,Tuesday!) a little sumpthin’ sumpthin’ I wrote will be featured in the “Today’s Brilliance” section on www.inspiremetoday.com.   =) If people really like it, and it gets a lot of “hits”, it may be published in the Huffington Post! =D

500 words; I hope to inspire you. Please pass it on…

Again friends, thank you for your inspiration.  Thank you for your support.

This young “rookie” appreciates you.

And most important of all… today is Poppy’s birthday. I love you so much, Poppy!

Happy Birthday with love!

Artist Nat Fast

I met a warm, sparkly-eyed man when I was four. I met him at PCPA Theaterfest when my brother, Dean, was a young performer in the play “The King & I.” He would sit backstage, or in the voms, and he would create amazing drawings from what he observed. And every time I would see him, his eyes lit up with love, and his calm and gentle voice would ask me how I was.

Well, twelve years have passed, and I am still friends with Nat Fast. My brothers and I are beyond those Young Performer days at PCPA, but I have this incredible treasure of friendship with Nat that will live on forever. I am always touched by the gift he has to be able to draw and paint with seriously amazing talent.  

Guess what I get to do after dance tonight? I am going to see a show of Nat’s work.

What a blessing to have Nat’s friendship (and art) in my life!  Go hug an artist!

Revealing the Identity of Someone #2

It seems like many moons have passed since I quizzed you on who you think might be Someone #1… and then I compounded the puzzle by adding Someone #2.

Don’t you love guessing games?

Here come the clues:

Someone #2 is a best-selling author, television host extraordinaire, founder of Cassidy’s Place, Cody’s House and Association to Benefit Children, and someone who cares deeply about children. I am deeply honored, and more grateful than my words can say, to tell you that I received a beautiful endorsement from Kathie Lee Gifford for Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery.

I imagine that Ms. Gifford has a schedule that keeps her flying swiftly about her life.  Then, someone like me comes along who requests her time and attention. Just knowing that she took the time to look at my book makes me so happy. It lets me know that there are people who truly care about changing lives for the better… even people who are very successful.

It seems to me that being successful means greater responsibility. Success is a blessing. We then have the responsibility to use what we have to help others. Yes, we need to be excellent stewards.  Life is short. We have so much we can give, and nothing feels better than giving.

Thank you Someone #2!  Miss Kathie Lee Gifford, you touch my heart with your gift to me and other cancer survivors. You motivate me to be generous, and you have given me a master lesson in stewardship.

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