It’s no coincidence that Melleny Ware works in Harris Health System’s Mammography Case Management office as a data specialist. Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, when she was only 24 years old, she has had a special interest in the disease.
Melleny always practiced breast self-exams, but when she actually found a lump in her left breast, she was scared. She saw her doctor right away. He ordered a needle aspiration, but there was no fluid. The next step was a biopsy, which indicated cancer. She had a mastectomy.
“I took 30 days off work,” she recalls, “and went on with life.”
Then a few months shy of the five-year mark, she found another lump. The second diagnosis came on her husband’s birthday in 1991. By now, the couple had two children. Her husband told her, “I’m not going to raise these kids by myself,” and they got busy. She had another mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy.
“I never questioned why,” she says. “My attitude was, ‘Why not me?’ I knew God could use me.”
And he has. She started a small support group, The Tie That Binds, for friends and classmates. She has walked through breast cancer with four friends who say they would not have made it without Melleny. When she worked in a college setting, she supported several students who had cancer, going to medical appointments with them. And three years after her second cancer, her mother, Evelyn Larry, had a similar diagnosis.
She believes the reason she survived was “to encourage and support others. Breast cancer doesn’t mean death. I tell women to remain positive and keep negativity away. I encourage them to stay strong; God can do anything.”
In the years since her cancer, Melleny and her husband have done a fine job of raising their children. Their 28-year-old son, who has autism, is a Special Olympics superstar. Their daughter is a special education teacher.
“God meant my cancer to be good. My attitude changed. I’m less assertive now, softer. I don’t stress as much. I still live one day at a time, and every day, I wake up grateful.”