Melinda's Logo About Melinda's Illness


This page is dedicated to the loving memory of
Melinda Rose Hathaway

On February 14th 1994 our 12 year old daughter, Melinda Rose, was diagnosed with cancer (spelled throughout this homepage with a small "c" because we dislike it so very much).

We heard the words, but we couldn't even begin to understand them ... "Your daughter has Askin's Tumor, an extremely rare form of cancer that strikes mostly young adolescent females, and is invariably terminal". Upon investigation, medical statistics indicated to us that, with her type of cancer in such advanced development (stage IV - as bad as it gets), her chance of survival for any more than one or two weeks was remote.

Only the day before, Melinda had been a typical carefree pre-teen with dozens of friends... pretty, graceful, full of hopes and dreams, an "A" student, a peer counselor, cited for her work with severely challenged children, awarded the "All Round Cord" for excellence in Girl Guiding, a server in the Church, a pipe organist in training, and much more. Her only known problem was a tiny bump on her back that was going to be removed in a day surgery that would take only a few short minutes.

And now there she was, lying in front of us like a crushed doll. In severe pain, hardly knowing who or where she was, and unable to even sit up in bed because of the deep investigative surgery on her shoulder and spine.

Thus began Melinda's personal battle, the likes of which we had never seen before. The Doctors had no protocol for the very rare Askin's Tumour, so Melinda remained in hospital for four and a half extremely difficult months and received "high strength" chemotherapy. Then she was allowed to come home for a short afternoon visit. A few weeks later she got to sleep in her own bed again for two nights. Unfortunately she encountered some complications and had to return to the hospital for another two months.

In September of 1994 the doctors started six weeks of intensive radiation at which time she received her lifetime limit of exposure to that type of treatment. During this period she insisted on going to school almost every day.

One more round of chemotherapy was started in October of 1994, but complications put Melinda back in the hospital again. At that time the doctors decided to stop the chemo as her body could not tolerate any more. Early in August of 1995 we were told that the cancer had progressed, only this time with even more tumor sites than before.

Pallative chemotherapy was then started in September of 1995 and continued for the next six months, but eventually the doctors stopped the treatment because it seemed to be doing more harm than good, and she didn't seem to be improving. So she was sent home where she would be more comfortable than in the hospital.

In July of 1996 she was determined to go to Camp Goodtimes for a week. The nurses there were kind, caring and very skilled in providing 24 hour care for Melinda. To everyone's relief she not only survived, but also had a very good time!

When Melinda returned from camp she was hospitalized, and soon after our whole family moved with Melinda to the Canuck Place Hospice For Children.

Melinda fought on, and continued to fight until September 15th 1996 when the cancer finally overwhelmed her.


Starting just a few weeks after her initial diagnosis, Melinda spent a lot of her time comforting and counseling other young cancer patients and their caregivers. Several times she was the only one who could bring a shell-shocked Cancer Kid out of the protective cocoon that they sometimes throw around themselves. Her zest for life, her will to live, her unending hope, and her genuine caring let her achieve what many people only ever dream about - she reached out and restarted other peoples hearts. Hopefully through this page, which she worked so hard to complete, her dream can continue.

The message?

TO PARENTS: Don't ever take your kids for granted (we never did with Melinda, but in these stressed out times, some parents do). Their lives, and yours, can change in an instant, leaving you crying every night as you remember the way things used to be before your own personal disaster, and how things in the future will never be as you imagined them when you held your newborn child in your arms for the first time. But if it does happen, you will somehow find the strength and the courage to do the things that have to be done ... always remember that.

TO KIDS: Having cancer is not cool - it hurts real bad for a long, long time, so don't do anything that might increase your chance of getting it. And those kids that you sometimes see in a wheelchair, with a very white face and little or no hair ... try to go out of your way to treat them like a friend and not as someone who is "different". After all, they were just like you a few weeks ago, and surely you can take just a little time to share some of your future with them to make up for the future that they might not have. And if you do get cancer, remember that there can be life after a cancer diagnosis ... Melinda is proof of that! It's true that your life will change a lot, but at least some periods of it can be both beautiful and rewarding.

TO EVERYONE: In the words that Melinda used so often: "Life is so much better when you concentrate on the things that you can do and on the things that you do have, instead of sulking and worrying about the things that you can't do or that you can't have".

Something to think about.

David and Joanne Hathaway

For the continuation of this story, please go to A Tribute From Melinda's Dad.

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