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Survivor Story: Melissa Marshall

Survivor Melissa MarshallSinger, and songwriter, Melissa Marshall was 51 when she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in September of 2013. She ignored the telltale signs of colorectal cancer, and ended up being fitted with an ostomy bag. After a lengthy batter Melissa was cured, and began a crusade of inspiration and education.

Because of her high-energy career of nightly musical performances, Melissa felt the toll of years of dancing on her hips and joints. While prepping for a routine hip-replacement surgery, Melissa dealt with fatigue, rectal bleeding, and weight loss. She assumed all of the signs were connected to menopause and the stress of preparing for surgery.

Following months of escalating bleeding, constipation, and irregular bowel movements, Melissa 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 14, 2013, with little chance of a reversal. This meant that, for the rest of her life, she would be living with an ostomy bag. She began chemotherapy on January 31, 2014, as well as 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.

While recuperating from her ostomy surgery, the idea for the No You Cant’cer Butterfly necklace came to her. Melissa wanted a token of her fight against colorectal cancer. She designed the blue-ribboned butterfly charm and had a jeweler set it into reality. Fueled by a new excitement, she penned the song, “No You Cant’cer” about her surprise at being diagnosed and how she would persevere in her attempts to overcome it. Even though Melissa still was unsure if she would ever be able to sing again, writing the inspirational music began to heal her.

After receiving her necklace during the December holidays, Melissa’s jewelry became her trademark and she wore the piece every day. It garnered interest with strangers, some for its beauty, and others for their understanding of what the blue ribbon represented. Melissa found herself sharing her story with others, many of whom didn’t understand what an ostomy bag was. She saw that there were many untruths to the life-saving appliance, and those who did not understand it thought it to be unclean, undesirable, and unnecessary. From these myths, she decided to devote her life to educating the public about colorectal health and ostomy bag realities. From this, the No You Cant’cer Foundation was created.

In early June of 2015, Melissa found the strength to record “No You Cant’er” and begin the task of legitimizing her new nonprofit. She built the idea of “It’s in the Bag,” an educational pamphlet that will be available in all hospitals and colorectal doctors offices. In these publications there will be links to support groups, the dispelling of ostomy myths, and facts to help others take charge of their colorectal health. Colorectal cancer is not “glamorous,” nor are many comfortable discussing it as they are with the more mainstream cancers. After she was found to be cancer-free on July 17, 2014, Melissa found that she had the voice, and the courage, to empower more people to say, “No You Cant’cer.”

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Kathleen says:

    Very inspiring. My husband will have this same surgery in a few days. His body was ravaged by simultaneous chemo and radiation for 6 weeks this summer. We were discouraged from alternative care but are looking at doing it post surgery.

  • Tolu awe says:

    Very inspiring. My dad going through same phase. I’m encouraged by this testimony. My dad will live again.

  • kingstonGA says:

    Really inspiring post. One of my friend had colon cancer. He had diagnosed during is his early stage. Consult with professional colorectal surgeons in Sydney

  • Kahreen abrea says:

    Im 25 y.o female and I had two sons(alef-2y.o and ethan-5mnths). Last march 3 of this year, I was diagnosed of colon with peritoneal cancer stage 4. It was difficult for us since we are strugling for my medication and chemoterapy because my parents salary are not enough. Im praying always to God that I’ll be healed soon so that I can go back to my normal life and take care of my children. “Nothing’s impossible in God”.

    • Dominga says:

      God is good and will heal you will see your little angels growing…

      I was also diagnosed of stage 2 colon cancer on the 2nd week of this month(April) and had the surgery on the 22nd of the same i am still in the hospital recovering and looking forward to go back home on the 29th..i feel you because i also have a 9years old son and 14years old daughter who needed a mother’s care…upon reading all these testimonies i am more encouraged to keep fighting and believing that i am completely healed after the surgery..

      • Sam Dalli says:

        On 4th November 2021 I underwent an emergency surgery where a colon tumor was removed. The doctor didn’t know the nature of this tumor. The tumor was sent to a pathology laboratory and after 15 days test results showed a stage 2 colon cancer. I have seen an oncologist but haven’t yet started treatment. I am now waiting for an MIS test result. The MIS test result will show whether my cancer is due to a genetic disorder or not. Based on this i formation the doctor will decide on the type of treatment that I shall take.

  • shara jane raval says:

    Nothing is impossible to God dear, you will be healed in Jesus name..God is always faithful! My husband iwill be having his colonoscopy test tomorow, he has symptoms of colon cancer, despite of this, we are still hopeful the result will be negative..stand firm I faith, God won’t give us any hardships that are beyond our capability..
    Be blessed and stay encouraged !

    • Magdalena says:

      Hi can í ask… where the results positive, did he have colon cancer….. my dad has almost all the symptoms but has not seen the docktor. If you see this and can answer í would be thankful

  • Tony g licursi says:

    Hello I had the colorectal cancer and received the ostomy bag I am 65 yet to be off in the pasture , what I am not happy about is my sex life it seems for now is out of touch with my mind ED is not what I hoped for .I ‘ be told the surgeons that Ian not afread to die , but friten not to please my wife .What do you say to her , go and have your pleasure I ‘be waiting here for you when your done . It’s not what it is to be. ?
    My name is Tony

    • cindy says:

      Don’t you worry Tony. You get well. Your wife loves you and I am sure is more concerned about supporting you than her sex life. I am 62 and have a very happy marriage…without sex for over 20 years. My dear husband got sick early on in our marriage and continues to struggle with heart and other health issues. I couldn’t love him more.

  • very inspiring story. the Cancer Center fosters wellness through its programs in cancer advocacy and education, screening and early detection, and treatment assistance.

  • Sam Dalli says:

    Saturday, 11 December 2021.
    In mid October 2021 I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling the need to defecate although my food intake was normal, the feeling went on for more than two weeks during which I suffered intermittent vomiting and cramps. I got worried. I went to hospital and had a CT scan. The CT scan clearly showed a total blockage in my colon due to a tumor. I underwent an emergency surgery where the surgeon removed a 15cm long piece of my colon. He also performed a Colostomy and fitted a stoma where I started using a Colostomy pouch. The extracted piece of my colon was sent to a pathology laboratory. After 15 days the results came back with confirmation of colon cancer stage 2. I am now seeing an oncologist who told me that I must do an MIS test as a first step in order for him to determine the type of treatment. The MIS test result would help the doctor to decide if my colon cancer was due to a genetic disorder or not. Based on this information my oncologist will decide on the type of treatment that I shall take. The MIS test result is expected to be ready in ten days.

  • Harry says: my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 (t4an1a). Original t stage was 3 but the doctors said it was elevated to 4a due to perforation. They also said that other important factors, such as preoperative cea lvls we’re good and the fact that only lymph node is good, the differentiation is moderate. So they told me I’d give an 80% percent survival for 5 years. And this is where I lost 10 of mine. Plus I went online and saw like a zillion medical articles books and abstracts about colon cancer that gave me worse prognosis for iiib t4νn1α , I think I can pass their exam. Now!

    Is there someone professional in this thread, maybe calm Me down a bit?

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