TheCHIVE Charities donates to alum
After not knowing whether she would be able to walk the stage at her graduation, Melissa Smith received her Towson University diploma and became the first in her family to graduate.
That was in May 2006, months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that originates in white blood cells.
Since then she has beat the cancer, relapsed, beat the cancer again in 2010 and then was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurological disease, Transverse Myelitis, in 2012. This disease happens when your immune system attacks your spinal cord and is sometimes a side effect to high doses of chemotherapy treatment.
Within three weeks of the diagnosis, Smith became paralyzed from the waist down, relying on others to do simple daily activities for her, such as going up stairs and reaching countertops in her apartment.
“It’s been very hard,” she said. “There’s been a lot of bad days.”
Smith now sees many good days on the horizon after being chosen as the recipient for a charity fund, run by the website theCHIVE.
“Within 30 minutes she raised $50,000,” her sister, Stephanie Smith, said.
Stephanie Smith was the one who filled out the application for her sister to have the chance to be chosen. Originally they had hoped the donations would provide enough money to add hand controls to her car so that she would be able to drive again. But it far exceeded their expectations.
Each day the donation increases in size and is now at $385,000.
“We did not know it would turn into this,” Melissa Smith said.
Melissa Smith said she hopes to get a house she can cook in and shower by herself, as well as have physical therapy equipment.
“All the little stuff is what I look forward to,” she said. “I can feel like I’m not a burden on everyone else.”
She said that she doesn’t know where she would be without her family and friends that have helped her so much along the way. They even come together each month to pay her rent.
“I’m very lucky,” she said.
She loved Towson and the teachers were understanding after she was diagnosed with cancer the first time, she said. They wanted to see her cross the stage too.
She graduated with a Spanish major and then decided she wanted to pursue nursing and enrolled at Anne Arundel Medical College Nursing Program.
“I want to work with patients,” she said. “Because I had been on the other side so long, I knew the difference and how it can make a difference in a patient’s recovery.”
Just as she was about to start up nursing school again after her second battle with cancer, she was told that she couldn’t complete the program.
“I felt just totally defeated,” she said.
Then weeks later she was surprised as the charity recipient. Now her and her sister joke that she is a celebrity. Her Twitter followers increased from 125 to 2,000 overnight, Melissa Smith said.
“theChive is all about paying it forward and doing random acts of kindness,” she said. “I plan on paying it forward for the rest of my life.”