She has always been the strong one, Melissa. A single mom of two great boys, the primary breadwinner for the family. Her ex-husband and boys’ father died of ALS. She has always supported her boys on her own. Things were going great, she was flourishing in the sales job, and she was happy. Until she realized something was wrong. She found a lump in one breast, and it was growing fast.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer, after rigorous biopsies and tests, with an aggressive treatment plan recommended that needed to begin right away. “It’s ok,” she thought, “I can do this.” Chemo, then surgery, and a great deal of pain but she had faith that she could manage it.

So the chemo treatments began, which left her feeling sick and struggling to maintain her normal routine. Being a private person, she had to figure out how to hide the symptoms of hair loss and the physical side effects. She didn’t want anyone pining over her and feeling sorry for her. Many women have done this, and she believed that she could too. Keeping her sense of humor she joked about how much dust gets in your eyes when you don’t have any eyelashes.

For the last several months she endured chemotherapy treatments, maintained her job, kids and household. As the strong and private woman she is, Melissa continued to brave her uncertain future, and scheduled her double mastectomy, with provisions for reconstructive surgery down the road with many delays after chemo due to low platelets and blood issues.

She was finally cleared for surgery, and she had high hopes that this was the beginning of the end to this nightmare. But those hopes were dashed when complications began almost immediately after the surgery. So much that she had to endure more painful procedures, antibiotics and another emergency surgery to correct the issues. It was like having a double mastectomy procedure twice in the short span of a few weeks. It is hard enough to do this once, but twice!? Once again she rolled up her sleeves and marched forward.

Next steps included follow up visits, and with confirmation of live cancer still inside of her, she continued to give up more of her body. A cluster of lymph nodes removed, and 33 treatments and 7weeks of radiation therapy now looming in the not so distant future, the bills continue to pile up. Even with insurance, the copays alone are astronomical. The road ahead for Melissa continues to get longer, as procedure after procedure are added to her list. There are so many more follow ups, medications and things to do before the next step can be taken. It began to become overwhelming. She now starts a second round of chemo while still in radiation for 7 weeks.

Hoping for the best, she has finally allowed us to help on one condition. Her request is that what we do for her must also help others, to pay it forward. As she navigates this journey, we are documenting the resources available, and answers she finds, in order to assist others who walk this path after her. She always has a selfless eye towards helping others.

Today, the Two Titimice Foundation has accepted Melissa as their new nominee for assistance. This campaign hopes to raise enough funds to help her though the piles of medical bills and multiple upcoming procedures and treatments. Please give today to help keep Melissa in the game. Every dollar counts, raises hope, and paints a brighter future for the ones that walk in her shoes. She is paying it forward for those who walk behind her, by documenting her journey of resources and support she has found to battle breast cancer. She is creating a reference file that will be launched on the Two Titimice Foundation page.