Woo hoo! We are so excited to introduce you to this beautiful young woman, Miss August! Not only is she so cuper cute, but she's also got one of the biggest hearts you'll find. Read on to learn a little bit more about Miss August, Melissa Bates.
The BASICS about MELISSA BATES
Name: Melissa Bates
Diagnosis: Stage III rectal cancer on October 2, 2008
Age at Diagnosis: 20
ON SURVIVING CANCER:
Where were you when you found out you had colon cancer?
I was on a bus at school. It was really crappy. I had a breakdown on the bus. I felt like my world was coming to an end.
What were your symptoms?
Basically everything. I was in so much pain. The tumor was pressing against my nerves. I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t hungry but felt full all of the time. I had rectal bleeding and a change in stool.
What did your treatment involve?
28 radiation treatments, surgery and chemo
How did this impact your fertility?
Originally the oncologist didn’t bring it up my fertility or saving it as an option, but I had gone online to research and learned about the possibility for fertility preservation. I asked my doctor about it and she said I didn’t have time and it wouldn’t be a wise idea. But, I went against her recommendations and did it anyway, even though she wanted to start chemo right away. She told me without treatment, I wouldn't be around in 6 months.
I held off treatment and went to Chicago to bank eggs. They told me it didn't go as well as it normally does, but they did save some which are frozen now. I now have them if I potentially need to use them in the future. I felt like going against my doctor's advice was the right thing for me to do at the time, and I'm glad I did it ... even if I don't end up using them.
Worst thing about treatment?
Putting my schooling on hold, that was my sense of normalcy. My energy was wiped out, and I had so many thing I wanted to do but wasn't able to do them. I wanted to scrapbook and hang with friends but all I could do is lay in my bed.
What got you through cancer treatment? Any goals or mindsets that plowed you through?
My family and my friends. My church family – all of their support. My horses – I kept looking forward to showing them again.
Does cancer run in your family?
Not genetically; other people have had cancer – skin cancer.
WHAT HAS SURVIVING CANCER TAUGHT YOU…
About your body?
To listen to it. It’s amazing and it’s a lot stronger than I thought it was.
Life can be over the next day. Try not to live with regrets; live everyday as it comes and live it to the fullest. If there’s something you want to do – do it. One thing cancer helped me learn was to take the time to enjoy life and don’t go rushing through it all of the time.
They’re really important and they’ll always be there no matter what.
My faith has helped get me through everything. I know God has everything planned out and knows the plan more than we do.
Do you do anything now that you didn’t thanks to cancer?
How has cancer changed your life for the better?
Meeting several people through this has been a really neat experience and made me a braver person. I speak my mind a lot more than I used to. I think I’m more focused with what I want out of life, I’m more apt to make things happen. Meeting people and hearing their inspirational stories lets me know I can do this.
What do you hope your message and survival story will do for others?
A lot of things! Here are a few:
I hope it will help people going through the same thing.
I hope it will show people that life isn't over once you have a colostomy
I hope it will show people rectal cancer isn’t an old person’s disease
I hope people will stay on their doctors and if they think something is wrong and the doctor won't listen - they keep on trying until they find a doctor who will.
I hope people will ask a lot of questions.
I hope people will follow their hearts throughout treatment and do what's best for them.
I hope people know to believe in themselves and their treatment team and know that a positive attitude helps you through everything.
I hope people will take time to heal; from whatever treatment and not go back to "normal" life too soon.
How is life with an ostomy?
Having an ostomy isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s improved the quality of life that I have. It was basically life or death and I chose life. My ostomy isn’t holding me back from what I want to do.
RANDOM INFO ABOUT MELISSA
Job? I'm a full-time student at Iowa State University
Collect anything? I own horses
Hobbies? Horseback riding, dancing, anything outdoors, camping
Where are you from? Kewanee, IL
Odd tricks or skills? I can weld and have done some woodwork