You will never walk again.Those were the words Melinda heard from her doctor after waking up from a coma, paralyzed from the neck down by metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her brain and bones.
Being diagnosed at age 21 with aggressive metastatic breast cancer sent Melinda into the fight of her life, but it wasn’t the only challenge she had faced, even at such a young age.
As a child in Russia, Melinda was sold into the world of human trafficking, eventually finding asylum in the U.S. and becoming emancipated from her parents at age 13. She had been working her way up the ranks as a chef when the cancer diagnosis put her plans into a tailspin. The cancer was so aggressive that it required multiple surgeries and debilitating rounds of chemotherapy. She saw specialists in California and Utah, but the doctors eventually told her that the best option was to go into hospice care.
Melinda went into a hospice center in Thousand Oaks and stayed there for a year. She discovered Cancer Support Community (then called The Wellness Community), and found safety and solace among the staff and participants. “I was in a toxic relationship, and this was the only place where I could get away from him and feel safe in my support group,” remembers Melinda.
She also had a friend who came to visit her every day at the hospice center and repeated day after day that there was hope for Melinda. Eventually, Melinda realized that if she was going to live, it would take a complete transformation of her mindset and life circumstances.
“I saw that my whole life had turned into cancer,” says Melinda. “I had grown up believing I wasn’t deserving of love, and I was internalizing all the negativity of my life. Then my friend helped me see that I had an incredible story to tell, and a great purpose in life.”
Melinda credits her friends, the hope she found at Cancer Support Community, and her holistic healthcare team with the recovery that followed. Not only did Melinda regain her ability to walk; she regained her will to live. And this time she was living in a new way: free of negativity and toxic relationships, and full of hope and strength.
In her work with a holistic healthcare team Melinda picked up a wealth of knowledge about nutrition. She paired this with her culinary background to create her own catering company specializing in nutraceutical foods. She is currently creating a cooking and comedy program called The Melinda Malovoz Show. She also created Soul Ties, a foundation committed to rescuing people from human trafficking. You can read her story in her own words by purchasing her book, Death Doesn’t Know My Name, available on Amazon and Kindle.
“I am incredibly grateful that cancer woke me up to my purpose and gave me my voice,” says Melinda, who is currently pursuing doctorate degrees in nutraceutical medicine and lymphology. When she obtains her doctorate degrees she plans to teach internationally about holistic medicine. With the hope and optimism that have become her signature traits, Melinda awaits her next act with excitement. “I want people fighting cancer to know that life can be even better after cancer than it was before.”
Join Melinda at the inaugural Hope Walk on Saturday, June 15 to raise funds for Cancer Support Community! Learn more here.