“ Life is short, none of us know the number of our days. Get out and live life to its fullest, take risks, travel and have fun!
Melanie Kabo is another AWESOME mAss Kicker from San Diego, CA! We met her and her supportive husband years ago at a happy hour event. She did a toast at the 2014 Celebration of Life to honor the family members that stood by us through our treatment and recovery! She is very involved in the survivor community in San Diego through Accelerate Brain Cancer Cures (ABC2), the National Brain Tumor Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Stupid Cancer, F*ck Cancer, and through Oncology social media sites. Her kids are always at events supporting their mom! Her eldest son actually took pictures for mAss Kickers Foundation last year at a festival in San Diego! We are very honored to sit down and chat with one of our favorite mAss Kickers.
mK: Thanks for doing this Mel! First question… What/ when was your diagnosis? How did you find out about your diagnosis?
MK: I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Astrocytoma just over 4 years ago on November 20, 2011 after having a seizure in the middle of the night and being rushed to the emergency room.
mK: What were your symptoms?
MK: I didn’t really have any symptoms that concerned me. For the few days before I was having a feeling like there was an electrical current running down my leg, which would cause my foot to twitch and slowly over the days worked its way up my leg until my entire left leg would twitch. It was strange, but not a huge concern. My family and I would laugh about it and my husband would scratch behind my ear as if I were the family dog and he was making my leg shake. But we eventually did have some concern so I went to the chiropractor to get adjusted because it I figured it was a pinched nerve and just wasn’t getting any better. My chiropractor told me it wasn’t a pinched nerve and told me to go see a medical doctor, which I did but was misdiagnosed with muscle spasms and given muscle relaxers.
mK: Why are you involved in cancer advocacy?
MK: I am involved in cancer advocacy because I want to rid the world of cancer. I want there to be a cure found in my lifetime, so that I can live to see my children grow up and so that they don’t have to grow up without a mom. I also want them to not have to worry about their ever being diagnosed and their future children.
mK: What motivates you?
MK: My family motivates me. They really keep me going and literally keep me on my toes all day.
mK: You are blessed with a great family! When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
MK: The first time I felt like myself after my diagnosis was probably when I took off in a motorhome with my husband and 4 children to travel the US for the summer. It was so freeing seeing our beautiful country and brought us so close being stuck in a motorhome for 7 weeks, all 6 of us and our new puppy.
mK: We’re sure you guys have some great stories! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
MK: Everything. I am a happy person and laugh daily. Having 3 little boys and an older daughter makes life laughable. My family loves to laugh together and we are often joking with one another. The thought of experiencing life without my family makes me cry, but more so is the thought of my children experiencing life without me. They are so close to me. That also makes me angry at times, but for the most part I am not an angry person. I do have a lot of questions about the why, and I think that is more of my anger in the questioning.
mK:We’re sure that with such a large family, you experience ALL those emotions frequently! What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
MK: The most important things I have done are: 1. Spending time with my family. 2. Raising money for cancer research. 3. Becoming a hero of hope speaker for the ACS Relay for Life, as well as becoming a ACS CAN Ambassador where I am working on changing laws that affect me and other cancer patients, as well as help put an end to cancer.
mK: What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
MK: The toughest challenge has had to be acceptance. I don’t feel sick (except for the year I was on chemo) and I don’t look sick, so it’s hard to accept the fact that I am, as well as for others to realize it. Life goes on, but having cancer is something that I think about daily.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
MK: Ha, I don’t think I can share it publicly! One I can share is spending time with my family and checking things off of our bucket lists together. I love to challenge myself and take risks. Soon, if I can get over my fear, I will jump out of an airplane. I have taken on the risk of running a full and a few half marathons, and have repelled 36 floors down one of the tallest buildings in SD to raise money for brain cancer research.
mK: If you didn’t have to sleep ever and not get tired, what would you do?
MK: I’m the mom of 4, I still don’t know what sleep is!! I don’t think much would change, although my house would probably be a little cleaner and maybe I’d stay caught up on the laundry
mK: HAHAHA! What do you like to do in your spare time?
MK: I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family, working out, staying in shape by going to the gym and running.
mK: OK, let’s get to know you better… Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
MK: I lived in a home for unwed teen mothers when I was pregnant with my first child. I am also crafty, love to sew, paint, and scrapbook.
mK: What are you up to now?
MK: Currently I am trying to figure out my place in cancer advocacy, trying to stay healthy, and spend as much time as possible with my family.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
MK: I would have to say to get into a support group with others with your diagnoses, as we are all one big group of friends we never wanted to have. I have met some amazing people in the cancer world and my life has changed, in many ways for the better.
My advice for anyone with a daunting diagnoses or not is to do what you love. Life is short, none of us know the number of our days. Get out and live life to its fullest, take risks, travel and have fun!!
Melanie Kabo: Busy Mom, fitness fanatic, thrill-seeker, laundry lady, resilient survivor, “crafty” post-treatment thriver, driven cancer advocate, and sweet gal! Congrats on everything you have accomplished thus far! We look forward to seeing what you do next!