'I'm a Survivor'

Everyone faces challenges in life, but Jessica Melore has been hit with more than her fair share of life-threatening experiences.

Nine years ago, I was at a restaurant with my family when I got dizzy. Then I felt a pain in my chest and neck, and my arms were like lead. A nurse who was also there started asking me about my symptoms, then said, ‘Call 911!’ Before I knew it, I was in an ambulance on my way to the ER.

At the hospital, I learned that a blood clot had lodged in an artery and destroyed the left side of my heart. I was young, healthy and active – how could I have had a massive heart attack? Still in shock, I asked the doctor if I was going to die. He stared at me and said nothing.

The doctors hoped to save me with a transplant, but no hearts were available. So they implanted a mechanical device that pumped blood to my heart. But because of complications from an earlier surgery, my left leg lost circulation and became infected. Within a few days, it was amputated above the knee.

I was devastated. I couldn’t stop thinking about having the relearn how to walk with a prosthesis and how unfair it was. But I tried to focus on the fact that I was alive.

After six weeks of intense physical therapy in hospital, I went back to school. I worried that my classmates would treat me differently, especially because I had to use a wheelchair while I adjusted to my prosthetic leg. But I was floored by how supportive everyone was.

Right before my graduation, I learned that a heart was available, though I was apprehensive about undergoing open-heart surgery. After the operation, I woke up in a panic, clutching my chest to make sure my heart was beating. Two weeks later, I went home, and I started Princeton University on time three months later.

The summer after freshman year, I was hit with another medical hurdle: I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. Mentally, I shut down. To me, cancer equalled death. I began chemotherapy, and I was worried about hair loss. But I found such a great wig, my friends though it was real. After three months, I was in remission, and the doctors don’t expect the cancer to return.

Surviving against all odds has led me to reach out to others. I work at the NJ Sharing Network, a New Jersey non-profit organisation that educates people about organ donation. I also give motivational speeches (jessicamelore.com). My message: We can’t always avoid obstacles, but we can decide how we react to them.

More From

Body Health

Body Health 03 Oct 2019 SHARE
Everything You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer
Body Health 20 Sep 2019 SHARE
Instagram Is Restricting Posts That Promote Weight Loss Products
Body Health 17 Sep 2019 SHARE
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Abortion in South Africa