Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Melissa

In one split second their world changed forever.   A scary and isolating job that no woman could ever prepare for.  Regardless of the type of cancer, the experience is long and difficult. Regardless of remissions, cures or unimaginable loss, cancer is part of their lives forever.  Their moments in life are now marked by haunting memories and inconceivable feelings.  Their family’s timeline is now marked by ‘before’ or ‘after cancer’. We are working during the month of May in honor of Cancer Moms everywhere, fighting for their kids. We will share stories of many incredible Cancer Moms this month and how they define support.  We want to be their voices, reminding you all that the ONLY way we can make things better for kids fighting cancer is to do something about it. We hope we all find ways to lighten the load for our friends, neighbors and family members struggling quietly, valiantly, every single day, to keep their children alive. Donate today in honor of a mom. Donate in honor of a child. Your donation to ISF helps fund pediatric cancer research in our local community.

By Melissa Scanlon

Melissa is Mom to Gemma, who was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor on her 3rd birthday in 2017. Today, Gemma currently is in remission.

Support as a cancer mom often comes from unexpected people – the charitable volunteers that bring gifts to the hospital, the owner of Planet 21 salons that hears our story and offers to give us both cute pixie cuts to prep for chemo, the dry cleaning lady that texts you for years (even when she changes jobs!) just to tell you she is praying for your family, and our girl nurse Lauren at the clinic who was an absolute angel and took care of me as much as Gemma!

If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a universe to raise a child with cancer. Our daycare (Ballancrest Academy) rallied a huge team to do the ISF 5K in Gemma’s honor. Those teachers and families cried with me and cheered for me the whole way and we could not have survived without them. They still celebrate Gemma coming back to life with us. We will all be sobbing at her “graduation” this summer as she starts kindergarten in the fall. They have cemented roles as our extended family because of their never ending support. 

All cancer moms will tell you we are part of the club no one wants to join. You are all at once the one that holds them down to access their ports and the one that dries their tears after. It is sickening to watch your beautiful child get chemo or sedate them every day for radiation. And even though you are heartbroken you have to be strong because you are the #1 cheerleader. That is why all the family, friends and community support is so vital. Some days you just need a hug! Also you are basically living at the clinic – thankfully we have the wonderful people at Levine and do not have to go far – but someone has to cut back at work in order to stay on the treatment plan which adds a financial strain to an already stressful situation. It is so important that families have resources to alleviate that burden.

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.