On December 18th, 2007, at age thirteen, Melinda Marchiano was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Two days after Christmas, she began her first of four rounds of chemotherapy, followed by three weeks of daily radiation. When treatment ended, Melinda struggled with post-treatment effects; horrible digestive problems morphed into a life-threatening eating disorder that destroyed her physically, spiritually, and emotionally. During this time of recovery, she began writing her story in spiral notebooks.
In October, 2010, Melinda’s book, Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery, was published. In May, 2011, Melinda accepted the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book (Nonfiction) and a Silver Medal Ippy Award; Grace was also named a finalist in the 2011 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards.
Melinda regularly brings her message of hope to others as an inspirational speaker. During the summer of 2011, Melinda traveled over 7,000 miles, through 28 states, and visited 15 children’s hospitals. She named her trip Children’s Hospitals Hope Tour. The following summer of 2012, Make-A-Wish made Melinda’s wish of visiting children’s hospitals and bringing awareness for childhood cancer come true. This month-long journey, called Melinda’s Make-A-Wish Hope Tour, sought to bring hope and joy to pediatric cancer patients throughout the Western United States. Melinda visited patients, gave presentations at hospitals, and spoke with the media to raise awareness for childhood cancer. Melinda gives generously of her time-- out of her passion to help others fighting cancer-- and has been selected as a LIVESTRONG Leader by the Lance Armstrong Foundation for the past two years. She is a freshman at Pepperdine University and an honor student who is excited about her future plans to go into the medical field while she continues dancing, writing, and working to end childhood cancer. Melinda’s life mission has just begun…