In 2009, Mel was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. Treatment involved a lumpectomy, radiation, and chemo. Just as Mel was finishing treatment, she found SHiNE, and it was exactly what she needed at the time. She saw a SHiNE advertisement sign on the side of the road and followed her nudge to check it out. From that day on, Mel became a significant contributor and invaluable asset to SHiNE and our community.
She’s responsible for helping us get into our first gym.
She helped Kendall launch her first Instructor training.
She was a talented choreographer and a ROCKSTAR Instructor.
She was an incredible listener and gave the best advice.
She made everything fun.
Mel played an integral role in making SHiNE what it is today, and her biggest contribution of all was her friendship with everyone in this community.
In January 2020, Mel learned that a different form of breast cancer had returned, and in true Mel form, she took on the battle and almost made it look easy. (We know it wasn’t, but to protect those around her she always kept it together.) She endured chemo, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and BOOM! She was right back on the dance floor doing what she loved.
In September 2021, Mel shared her SHiNE story at the first-ever SHiNE Instructor Summit (SIS) explaining in her own words how SHiNE gave her joy, opportunity and family during her most recent battle.
Around the same time, Mel began to cough often and just…didn’t feel well. Her energy was dragging, but she thought (hoped) she had contracted a virus and was dealing with some lingering symptoms. She showed up for SIS like a BOSS, but after the big event, she didn’t have the energy to do the things she loved most. It was time to get serious, seek medical attention and get to the bottom of her chronic symptoms. After several tests, doctors confirmed that the breast cancer had metastasized to Mel’s liver and lungs.
After a long journey of trying multiple methods of treatment, Mel’s battle came to a close on September 13th, 2022. She was surrounded by family and friends as she made her transition to heaven, and though it brings us great sadness that she’s no longer with us, it brings comfort to know she can now dance pain-free again. Mel’s larger-than-life and everlasting presence, energy and influence traveled far across this earth in her too-short time on it, and we know without a doubt she will continue to shine light into the lives of others for years to come. Mel’s story is our story – one of determination, grit, community and hope – and we will tell it again and again through our words, our lives and our dances, in her honor. We thank you for holding space for us, yourselves and one another as we remember Mel, and as we keep on.
“Perhaps they are not stars
but rather openings in heaven
where the love of our lost ones pours through
and shines upon us
to let us know they are happy.”
With love and gratitude,