Melissa was first diagnosed in September of 2013 while prepping for a hip replacement surgery. A life-long dancer and singer, Melissa assumed the rectal bleeding, fatigue, and weight gain were all a result of thousands of high-energy performances. After months of escalating bleeding, constipation, and irregular bowel movements, she confided in a friend about her struggles. The friend urged Melissa to speak with a colorectal surgeon who, in turn, immediately paused the hip replacement surgery and sent Melissa for a battering of medical tests to determine what was causing all of these irregularities. After a colonoscopy, a tumor the size of a golf ball was found very low near her sphincter. It was cancerous.
After being diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer, Melissa began the arduous wait to see a colorectal specialist that could offer her the care she needed to survive. Melissa ended up receiving a colostomy bag on November 14th, 2013 with little chance of a reversal. This meant that, for the rest of her life, she would be living with an ostomy bag. As she began chemotherapy on January 31st, 2014, as well as undergoing radiation from April to March of that same year, Melissa found her body ravaged by their effects. She was frightened that due to the ostomy bag, and the months of chemotherapy, she would never again resume her singing career.
However, Melissa beat cancer on July 17th, 2014, regained her strength, and began preforming, once again to rave reviews. From her victory over colorectal cancer, she was inspired to record Cancer’s First Fight Song, “No You Cant’cer”. From that liberating piece of music, The No You Cant’cer Foundation was born in an effort to inspire through song, raise awareness about colorectal cancer, and get rid of the stigmas surrounding the life-saving ostomy bag. During her battle against cancer, Melissa found her strength in the love of her friends, family, and other cancer fighters. Now, as she is free from cancer, Melissa sees it as her opportunity, and duty, to empower those affected by cancer and help them find their voice to say, “No You Cant’cer”!
The focus of this foundation is to not only inspire, but to educate. Colorectal cancer is not seen as “glamorous” and the ostomy bag is seen as something to be ashamed about. The No You Cant’cer Foundation believes that colorectal cancer deserve the same amount of research and visibility as the more mainstream cancers and that the ostomy bag is a life-saving prosthetic that helps people lead happy, healthy, lives. This is why the “It’s in the Bag” publications have come into effect. These informational pamphlets will be nationally distributed in hospitals and doctors offices. They will answer the frequently asked questions, dispel ostomy bag myths, and get readers in touch with some of the best resources available both locally and nationally.
Join the fight against colorectal cancer and ostomy bag stigmas today!