Vandenberg AFB Beach

OK, so I’m a little slow sometimes. I know that. People say things to me and sometimes it appears that those things aren’t registering with me, but they are. I might just need to ponder, reflect, and consider first. This is one of those times. So many people have told me I need to write a book, but I just don’t have any solid answers for anyone, so what would I even write anyway? But I have learned …. oh have I ever learned so many things. And I’m still learning. This journey of mine is certainly not boring. Fraught with pain, financial hardship, and most of all, prolonged terror … it has been all of that. And has forced me to take out and try on things I would never have peeked at in the past. But it has not been boring.

So, a little about me … I was born in 1958 in NC and I never left the South until I was in my 20s and in the USMC. I went to college and graduated in 1980 with an MBA in Theater Arts. I taught dance with Arthur Murrays, then sang and choreographed for a band called Black and Blue. From there, I realized I had a college degree, but no skills for a real career. It was then that my brother, who had delay enlisted in the Marines, talked me into doing the same. With that degree, I had hoped to obtain a commission, but the universe had different plans. I was not accepted into the commissioning program, so in true stubborn form, I said, “No? I can’t be a Marine? You just watch this.” And I enlisted. And married my first husband. And had a beautiful miracle daughter.

After eight years in the Corps, I decided I could provide better for that child (the husband had since moved on) with bars on my shoulders than stripes on my sleeves, I decided to apply to USAF Officer Training School. Got accepted, got commissioned, and spent the next 12 years in the USAF. During that time, I had two more marriages, but the third time was the charm and I have been married to my husband, John, for almost 14 years now. My original diagnosis was barely a year after we got married.

My Constant Companions

Shortly thereafter, I discovered Papillon dogs and dog agility! That was a life changer for me. I now have FOUR Papillons, two of which have been competition dogs and one of which was a North American Champion! They are my very best friends, my little girls, so you will see a lot of them in here. 🙂

My original diagnosis fell in the last 5 years of my career, so when 20 years came, I punched and haven’t looked back. I am fully retired and spending my time talking to other cancer patients and helping educate people on cannabis medicine. This blog is a larger reflection of that. It’s a bit eclectic, much like me. I talk about my breast cancer experience, cannabis medicine, and other tidbits I’ve picked up along the path like beautiful seashells on an empty beach at dawn.

I feel that my life has been put in overdrive. I learned so much about alternative medicine and God’s will for healing during the course of my first diagnosis. But ever since the mets, things have hit a time warp and my learning has been punched into turbo. It’s getting to where I feel like if I don’t talk about it, I’ll explode. So here we go … strap in, buckle up and hang on. Keep yer arms and legs inside the vehicle. It’s gonna be a ride!

Me & John

Me & Erika

The Big Boys

  1. Nathalie R. says:


    I found your link off cancercured forum/email today. What an interesting story to read so far. You have a beautiful family and I love the dogs too (I am a dog lover!). I will bookmark your blog.

    Take care,


    • daniela torchia says:

      Wonderful and heartfelt story, I love your doggies and the horses and am happy you and John are together. We send you love and light, strength and peace
      Love Daniela and Tony

  2. Thank you so much, Nathalie! There’s plenty more to come. 🙂

  3. Kaycee Drew says:

    Hello Fellow Animal Lover

    As soon as I read your blog my first thought was , I’ve found another horse person! I cannot tell you in the course of my life how many people walk into my life who love and own horses. Even when my dad was dying the hospice nurse who was wonderful in every way, was a horse person and I was 3500 away from my own horses and home. Anyway I love your blog and am signed up to receive your newsletter. God bless you and your wonderful family and may you live in Peace and Joy everyday.

  4. Liz Bean says:

    Hey Melissa aka LizzardLee or whatever you were called. Do you remember me? My name is Liz Bean. I was back on those SHN Boards back when I was first diagnosed and you were there. So were many others. I’m trying to find some of the people that were on that board. I am now 15 years post diagnosis and feeling great. If you know of any others still around, let me know. I hope this finds you feeling fine. I have to go read more on your blog. Liz

  5. Liz Bean says:

    Above….I meant, feeling the best you can feel in your predicament. Your writing is wonderful. You have so much information and use great adjectives! May God Bless You in every way possible. Take care.

  6. Martine Aerts-Niddam says:

    Melissa, you are one of a kind. Your post today, I send it to my closest friends to whom I often cannot express what you so clearly stated. Than k you for helping me with that too.

    I am with you and where you are right now. At still another cross road. XO Martine

  7. Simone Garcia says:

    Hello!!!!!!!!!!! You look GREAT!!!!


  8. Cindy Rau-Sobotka says:

    Melissa….your journey is exciting indeed. Enjoy reading. Let me know when you are down in the Springs so we can mmet up. Blessings!

  9. Melissa Good to see you are radiant and informative.
    Can i give something to ponder?
    My 22yr old went thru emt cert and firefighting school in SLTahoe.
    He wants to learn to train dogs for search/recue, medicine,or exlposive components.

    Where can i steer him, he has a 6mo GR and volunteers 2 days at a dog playschool in Tahoe
    Continue to hooold that spirit.
    thankyou Leonard

    • I’m sorry but are you asking me for guidance for a dog training place in SLTahoe? I live in Colorado, so I wouldn’t know. But that’s awesome y’all find such joy in them. They are so special!

  10. Sandy Upton says:

    Your blog is wonderful and inspirational. Your pictures bring a smile to my face. Seeing the “girls” on the sofa is great. I have had some significant issues with my depression. It has interfered with me being able to follow up with those who are dear and important to me. I pray you are doing well, and continue your incredible determination to help others and get the word out about alternative therapies and how it has helped you. I hope things will improve for me soon and I too will be able to reach out to others and offer encouragement.
    Love to you, John, Ericka, the Girls and big boys.

  11. Eve says:

    Hi Melissa! I met you via cancer compass and the Kurt Peterson discussions. Today I found your blog and see you are here in Atlanta and being treated at a clinic just down the street from me! I am also on this journey of healing and thought if you ever want a friend in the Atlanta area I

    am here! Thanks for chronicling your path.

    Yours in health,

    • Oh wow, Eve, that would be great! We are currently staying in Marietta, but come Monday, we will be at the Residence Inn right there on Shallowford. I would love to meet you! Do you live near Progressive, or are you also at a clinic in the area?

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