Honoring Houston’s Heroes {Melissa’s Story}

“Motherhood is a lifelong promise to protect and fight for your child. For some mothers, the greatest fight isn’t their own; it’s helping their child battle cancer.” – Northwestern Mutual

As Mother’s Day nears, most of us moms throughout Houston are looking forward to breakfast in bed…or a little pampering…or maybe even a special gift or two.  But for some, Mother’s Day is so much more.  From countless appointments to personal sacrifices, moms of children with childhood cancer are selflessly serving their families day in and day out, which is why we are so honored to come alongside Northwestern Mutual to put a spotlight on these heroic Houston moms and celebrate their unwavering strength and dedication this Mother’s Day.

As many of you may know, the facts on childhood cancer are both startling and heartbreaking, but the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is taking a big stand.  In honor of all of the heroic moms across the country, the Foundation has made a $50,000 donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to help fund research hours in an effort to find a cure.  And for all of the moms whose children are fighting the biggest battle of their lives, I can’t imagine there is a sweeter Mother’s Day gift than that.

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Of course, we at Houston Moms Blog are dedicated to taking a stand as well, which is why we are so privileged to highlight three very special Houston moms as part of this oh-so-important Mother’s Day campaign too.  Between now and May 8th, we hope you will join us as we honor these true Houston heroes and share their inspirational journeys and personal words of encouragement.

First up…  Melissa.

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Some of you might recognize Melissa as the anchor and health reporter for FOX 26, but up until a few years ago – she never imagined being on this side of the story.  She and her husband David had a son named Zachary, and then a few years later welcomed another son named Caleb. Both boys were healthy and strong, and they were enjoying life in Houston as a family of four.

But in 2013, at just six years old, Caleb began complaining of aches, pains, and fevers.  Soon after, he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Despite all of the hardships and heartaches that this journey has held, Melissa has relied on her faith as she has helped Caleb cope with treatment and daily chemotherapy for the past three years at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, all while trying to maintain a family balance and making sure that her older son Zachary is never lost in the mix.

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We all know that mothering is challenging, but mothering a child with cancer probably feels overwhelming to most.  Splitting parenting and work responsibilities during treatment can seem like a daunting task, but somehow Melissa and David have managed to make it work by just doing what needs to be done.  They anticipate the other’s needs, and after three years, it has become innate.  And while an experience such as this can often tear a marriage apart, it’s obvious that these two have way too much love to let it bring them down.

And their boys?  They have that same positivity and love too.  Throughout this journey, Caleb’s mantra has been – “Courageous like a lion.”  This boy is full of tenacity and an unwillingness to let cancer define him.  He never complains, and he pushes himself constantly.  All while his older brother Zachary remains such a rock for the family and will tell you that this experience has brought their family closer than ever before.

A few weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Melissa and her sweet family one afternoon, and with Mother’s Day on the horizon, Caleb’s words have stuck with me like glue.  When I asked him why he thought his mom was the best ever, he simply said, “She always helps me, and when I’m sad, she makes me feel better.”  Well, I’m not sure about you, but that sounds like a very special hero to me.

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And to those of you who may find yourself on this seemingly insurmountable journey, Melissa had a few words for you too.  She said that, “Childhood cancer is not a race.  It’s a slow walk, and you have to take one day at a time.  Just be sure to find an amazing place that is filled with great support to surround you.”

This Mother’s Day we encourage you to lift each other up, celebrate one another, and honor the heroes all around you.  And from all of us to all of you… Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

Be sure to visit Northwestern Mutual on Facebook to read more stories of the heroic moms of childhood cancer patients and learn about their efforts to impact the fight against childhood cancer.  We are in awe of all that they are doing, and we know you will be too!

Learn more at NorthwesternMutual.Com

Please Note :: We are so thankful to Northwestern Mutual for sponsoring this series and allowing us the opportunity to highlight three very special local moms.  We are honored to come alongside their efforts to raise awareness for childhood cancer, and all thoughts and opinions included are proudly our own.

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Kelly D
Kelly is the founder of Houston Moms Blog and has lived in this beautiful city nearly all of her life. She has a degree in education from Texas State University and was honored to teach special education for eight years to some of the cutest little kiddos you could ever meet. While teaching, Kelly met Cody – a tall drink of water and country boy to the core – and together, they fell in love, got married, and decided to start a family. In March 2011, they welcomed Hayes into the world, a silly but smart little boy with a story you have to read to believe. And in April 2013, their family was complete with the addition of Hadley, a super gregarious and oh-so-cute baby girl. Now, Kelly devotes her days to caring for her own little ones…and would not trade this new job of hers for the world! In her not-so-spare time, Kelly loves meeting up with her girlfriends for margaritas, failing miserably at Pinterest projects, and exploring this big old city with her two favorite little side-kicks in tow.


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