2022 Recipients

We encourage you to read, share, and pray for each of these families. Thanks for your continued support of CANCER FREEZE. Hope to see you all on Saturday, 2-5-22, where we’ll be “Freezin for 8 reasons!”

Recipient #8

Today we will introduce you to our 8th and final recipient for CF22.
I’m Melanie Freeman. I was born on July 24, 1972, to two of the best parents in the world, Billy and Patricia Bearden. I was given my first “baby” at seven years old when my little brother, Nick Bearden, was born. As most siblings would say, he was sweet when he was little and then became an aggravating brat, but I would not trade him for anything or anyone in the world.
I graduated from Ponce de Leon High School with high honors with the class of 1990. I attended Okaloosa Walton Community College (what is now, Northwest Florida State College) and obtained my AA degree. I continued my educational program at Florida State University in Panama City. In May 1994, I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and would embark on my new career in August at Paxton School as a paraprofessional in Pre-K. The following year I moved back to my alma mater to be a paraprofessional at Ponce de Leon Elementary. With due diligence, I began my teaching career at Bonifay Elementary in August 1996, teaching 5th grade and later 2nd grade. After spending four years at BES, an opening came up back at PDLE and I was able to move back “home”. I spent a good number of years there before becoming the library media specialist at Ponce de Leon High School as well as the Testing Coordinator. I have recently moved back into the classroom as the Business Education teacher at Ponce de Leon High School. I started my 28th year of teaching off this year before I become sidelined to fight this battle with breast cancer that I am currently fighting.
But before I get into that journey, let me back up and pick up with my life as a wife and mother. As most do we all have those high school heartbreaks before we meet “the one”. I knew October 18, 1991 that I had found the one that I would spend my life with. It was his birthday and we had common friends and we both were at their house that night. These friends had set up a blind date before with someone else and I swore that would never happen to me again. So it was kinda a set up…I knew he was going to be there but he didn’t know about me lol and I had to give the ok to pursue it. But when we were sitting by the fire across from each other and our eyes met, I knew right then and there that I would marry this guy. I have always picked on him that he got the BEST birthday present that year…me!!! We just celebrated 30 years of being together. We married six months after we met on May 22, 1992.
We have been richly blessed with four wonderful children: Brianna(28), Ashlee (26), Cortney (19), and Matthew (17). Being a mother has been the most honorable and rewarding job I could have ever been given. Were times always easy…of course not but I wouldn’t trade one minute of being momma to these four kiddos! Each one is special and unique in their own way. I am so thankful to have been able to raise four wonderful and productive children. People always told me…”you just think you loved your own kids, wait until those GRANDkids come along.” Well, let me tell you! The two oldest have blessed us with our four awesome grandkids!! Brianna has Connor (7) and Mallory (1). Ashlee has Sawyer (4) and Kamryn (2). And boy, they are just GRAND!!!
Unfortunately, cancer is no stranger to our family. In 2001, my daddy was diagnosed with colon cancer while at the same time the doctors were telling me that I could lose our third daughter. Talk about a war on one’s heart and mind. After my daddy’s diagnoses I left the hospital distraught and heartbroken. There was NO way I could deal with either one of these things individually much less at the same time. I cried out to Jesus to please help me that He knew I couldn’t handle this on my own. I will NEVER EVER forget that day as long as I live. Driving down the road from Geneva headed home, the peace that only Jesus can give you came rushing over me and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that all was going to be well. I never shed another tear from that moment on (except when I tell this story; it gets me every time). All I could tell everyone was, “it’s all going to be ok.” Jesus gave me that peace so I could be strong for my momma. Every baby doctor appt I went to I went in confidently telling the doctor and nurses that it was going to be ok and that the issue would resolve itself. Guess what? Every appt I went to, it resolved itself a little more until the day came that there wasn’t an issue any longer!! Praise be to my Jesus for his promises!! Now back to my daddy…this was a Friday we were told he had cancer and would be having surgery on Monday. Day of surgery came and the doctor told us that life expectancy was five years post cancer. Daddy had to do six months of chemo. Let me tell you about my Jesus again…June marked TWENTY years since my daddy had cancer and has not had one sign of anything!!! Not a doubt in my mind…Jesus knew what was to come in our lives in the years ahead and He gave me this promise to stand firm on!!!
Move ahead ten years, in 2011, my world was rocked again when my husband, at age 39, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. At the time our kids were 18, 16, 9, and 7, and I was not ready to be a single parent so we did what had to be done. Once again, like my daddy, he was diagnosed on Friday and surgery was scheduled for Monday. His cancer was so low the doctor was concerned about being able to get everything reconnected. Praise the Lord the doctor was able to get clean margins and reconnect everything perfectly. Results came back and all 21 of the removed lymph nodes were negative. Because of his age (39) and the cancer being in the rectum, he had to do six weeks of radiation (30 treatments) and six months of chemo. Another shout out praise for Jesus…10 years and there have been no signs of anything showing up again.
If two family members with cancer weren’t enough, my sister-in-law was diagnosed less than a year after my husband with colon cancer. Hers was a little different in that it was higher in the colon and had penetrated through the colon wall and had leaked into her stomach cavity. We had to be strong for their mom. Connie wasn’t as fortunate as my daddy and husband. A little over a year after being diagnosed and surgery, the cancer metastasized to her liver. We had to go to Gainesville for her to have half of her liver removed. Due to the amount of blood and plasma she had to be given, she basically bled out and they had to give her so much to keep her alive. About 3-4 months later it had moved into her spine and in August 2013, she became paralyzed from the waist down. Her momma and I were her primary care givers during this time. Unfortunately, in October 2013, she lost her battle with cancer. I had never had to deal with death before. Holding her hand when she took her last breath took a very heavy toll on me.
Fast forward through 49 years and here we are today, 20 years after my daddy had colon cancer and 10 years after my husband had rectal cancer, I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had never put the 2001, 2011, and 2021 together until today, October 19, 2021.
My Cancer Journey
I have had fibrocystic breast disease for years. I have so many lumps and knots and it is almost impossible to tell the one lump from another. I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong if a knot hasn’t popped up in my armpit. I waited several weeks to see if it would go away and when it didn’t I decided it was time to have it checked. I went to my gynecologist on 9/2 and then he referred me on to the breast center for a mammogram and ultrasound on 9/9. That is when the doctor told me he highly suspected I had breast cancer. A lot further testing was done to confirm and tell to what extent it is. On 9/2, when I went to the doctor, one of my very best and dearest friends was in surgery have a double mastectomy due to having Ductal Carcinoma. I was worried and scared that I was fixing to be facing this journey too. But having gone through the cancer process with my daddy, husband, and sister-in-law, I just knew in my heart that God would see me through! I know that God has a plan and doesn’t make mistakes! I know He will see me through this one way or another; He will heal me here on earth or He will heal me when He calls me home to live with Him! I remember thinking that day…”Everything is going to be ok!” And Praise the Lord, it will be!!
My treatment plan will be four treatments of two drugs every two weeks with a shot the next day after chemo to boost white blood count. Followed by 12 treatments of one drug every week for 12 weeks. Then I will have surgery for a double mastectomy. After surgery, the doctors will decide if I need to do radiation.
I have had all the preliminary testing done, chemo port placed, and today, 10/11, was my very first chemo treatment. The treatment process wasn’t as frightening as I had imagined it would be. I had applied numbing cream to the port site about an hour before they needed to access it. I didn’t really feel much when they stuck the needle through the skin. The worst part of the treatment itself was the flushing part…that stuff tastes gross! Everything went fine until about 6:00 when I got super nauseated. Praise the Lord for praying family and friends!! It didn’t last too long and I didn’t get sick!
I was asked if there is anything you wish you had known beforehand? Most definitely, just how long and aggravating the process can be. When my daddy and husband had colon cancer, the doctor found the cancer on Friday via colonoscopy and came in and told us and said we are doing surgery on Monday. Talk about a quick process! Breast cancer is NOT that way. There are so many different parts that the doctors have to know in order to tailor the treatment to what the patient needs. I’m thankful they do that but the waiting and the unknown is very stressful and taxing on a body that is already sick.
Fight for yourself!!! I am a very involved person in my medical care. I don’t mind being a bulldog (as my momma called me one day) to help push things along and get things done. Thankfully everything moved pretty quickly except for medicine approval at the very end before treatment could start.
The one thing I would want to communicate to other women about my battle is to be proactive and aware of your body. As I said earlier, I have had fibrocystic breast disease for a long time with lumps and knots all over as well as hereditary lipomas. I’ve had many of them checked and fortunately there was never any need of concern. I last had a mammogram in 2019. I had the order for 2020 but before I could go Covid hit and I just never went and had the mammogram done. And what’s really scary to me is that I wouldn’t have gone when I did if the lump and swelling had not come up in my armpit. But with that happening means it had already spread from my breast to the lymph nodes in the armpit. But had it not done that I wouldn’t have known any difference than any other lump! Please ladies, take it from someone that didn’t do it every year…go get checked and have a mammogram done yearly or at sign of anything you worry may be wrong in between those checkups! Believe me, I will be staying on top of my three daughters to be checked starting now!
In an interview I was asked, “What keeps you going?” JESUS first and foremost!!! The love I have for my family pushes me to do whatever is necessary to beat this!!
Another thing I was asked in that interview was, “Are there any specific acts of support you’d like to mention?” I am just totally overwhelmed at the number of people that have reached out to me since I first found out! The ladies who have been through this already have answered so many questions and helped put my mind at ease as much as possible …thank you to Anissa Locke, Amy Rushing, Rachel Norman, and Jessica Sconiers! The one act of support that has touched my heart the most is from one of my 9th grade students, Hunter Weimorts. As he was leaving class one day something was said about me going to be out of work more and he asked if I was ok and I told him what was going on. Never in a million years would I have thought what would happen next would happen. His mom contacted me and told me that Hunter had talked to her about what I had told him and was very concerned and wanted to help any way he could. He worked with his Mimi to create a transfer to sell shirts for me. It means so much to know students feel this way about me!!
Another blessing I wanted to tell about is from some of my husband’s co-workers at the Walton County Jail. One of them, Haley McMillian spearheaded the effort to find a perfect “companion” for me. My “Oliver (Ollie)” is a teacup black and white long haired chihuahua and is just precious! He loves his new momma and loves to snuggle with me!! Thank you so much, Haley, Margie, Chris, Kyle, Dustin and Adam!!!
I would like to end by saying a great big “THANK YOU” to everyone that has reached out to me, either by phone, text, messenger, given donations or gifts or seeing you in person and welcomed with that big ole hug!!! It means more to me and my family than anyone will ever know, unless you have been in our shoes, and then you will know how important it is to have family, friends, and the community to rally around you so you know you are not alone in this fight!!!

Recipient #7

I’m Jeffery Brown. I’m 33 years old and live in Laurel Hill with my wife and three boys. I was recently diagnosed this year with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. Here’s my story.
In December 2020 a few weeks before Christmas I woke up in excruciating pain. I did everything to try to make myself believe it wasn’t that bad and I could get ready for work. As the minutes went by I couldn’t even move. I told my wife something wasn’t right and we headed to the ER. Once there a CT Scan was done along with blood work. We were told a mass was found and I’d need to be admitted so they could go down the next morning and see what it was and do a biopsy. The next morning I go back and within minutes they come out telling my wife no mass was found but that they see some inflammation that could be causing the symptoms. A biopsy was taken from inflammation and they believed the mass was an ulcer and told me to follow up next week in office. I left with a bunch of meds to coat my stomach and they helped and by the next week I was feeling good. The appointment came and the biopsy of the inflammation was clear and was told to do a repeat scan in a few months to see about the ulcer. Unfortunately on March 17 after dinner with family I again woke up that morning in excruciating pain plus many other symptoms except this time was so much worse! At this point I couldn’t even walk and was very sick. I feared I wouldn’t make it far so had my wife take me to the nearest ER. Once there we told them we were told of an ulcer previously so bloodwork and CT Scan was done again and I was admitted for them go down the next day and see if they could see it and biopsy it. They quickly realized it wasn’t an ulcer and we were told it was cancer and a biopsy would tell what kind etc. By this time I’m getting worse. Pain can’t be controlled, not able to eat or drink and going down hill quickly. They believed it was a certain kind of cancer tumor that could be removed with surgery but didn’t want to cut until the pathology was back. As I continued to decline for days the doctor decided we couldn’t wait any longer and surgery was done. 6 1/2 hours later I was out of surgery and my family was told I had what they believed was actually Stage 3 cancer and that it was very aggressive and they hadn’t seen anything like that in someone my age before. They were baffled. They ended up removing my Gall Bladder, half of my stomach and some of my intestines. The cancer had ate through my intestines and spread leaving a hole. This is where all the pain was coming from and the reason I couldn’t eat or drink. A tumor was found on my liver and was not removed. A Pet Scan would be needed to determine if it was indeed cancer or not and if it was it’d be then considered Stage 4. I spent the next month in and out of the hospital having every complication possible. Kidneys had no function, dialysis was needed. I got Pneumonia and many other infections including Pancreatitis 3 times back to back. Was bleeding out multiple times due to a bleeding aneurysm and surgery was needed again and luckily it saved my life yet again. Pathology finally was confirmed and sent to us and it was indeed cancer and had spread to lymph nodes. Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. I finally got over all the post surgery complications and was home to try and recover. We saw our Oncologist and was told there is unfortunately not a chemo/radiation that is affective to this type of cancer. Normally surgery is done to remove what can be removed and the first surgery thankfully was successful in that area but unfortunately once we had Pet Scan it was confirmed it had metastasized to my liver and was considered now Stage 4. Unfortunately I was still too sick and weak and needed to recover more for another surgery. Hormone injection shots were started in hopes of helping with symptoms from the Carcinoid Syndrome that comes from this cancer and also in hopes of possibly shrinking the cancer on my liver and containing it. As of October 2021 it has shrunk and is contained but told by surgeon that there is no cure as more cancer will come in future. Surgery will be done as needed and injections will continue. Please continue to pray. Thank you all for everything.
Mark your calendars and make plans to join us on Saturday, 2-5-22 where we’ll be “freezin” for Jeff & our other 7 recipients for CF 22 at Lake Jackson in Florala,Al!

Recipient #6

On January 19, 2021, I left my son’s basketball game and knew something wasn’t right. I was convinced I was having gallbladder issues and told my husband I wanted to go to Southeast ER because there is an experienced surgeon there that goes other places teaching his technique. We get there and the normal gamut of tests were run, a CT was done and I assured myself that I would be having gallbladder surgery.

Dr. Davis came in and had a strange look on his face- I’ll never forget it when he said your pain is actually your liver which is almost in failure , and we believe you have a type of breast cancer that has spread. Not only there, but the lymph nodes , your lungs and bones. I was at a loss. I was not prepared- I mean I didn’t have a lump in my breast, just some swollen lymph nodes in my arm pit, and which I thought was leftover from having COVID weeks before . Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family so I thought surely he was wrong. (Little did I know 85% of breast cancer has NO genetic component, meaning 85 percent have no family history)They scheduled me with oncologist and for a biopsy the very next day. It was confirmed at my oncology appointment that the biopsy was more of a “check the box” kind of thing she had no doubt we were dealing with breast cancer- worse, we were dealing with inflammatory breast cancer which is extremely aggressive. I immediately called MD Anderson and made an appt for their Inflammatory breast cancer clinic. After the biopsy confirmed, I had a chemo treatment 5 days later and then went to MD Anderson for their opinion. They have worked close with my oncologist in Dothan and made a plan for 6 rounds of chemo, then a single mastectomy and then two time a day radiation for six weeks. After the surgery on June 24, I was declared “no evidence of disease” which is the best result for stage 4 cancer since there is no cure and the best thing is for it not to be “active”. Fast forward to the last week in September and I had been home one week from the 6 week stay in Houston for radiation. I started having bad headaches so my oncologist recommended a brain MRI. The results showed multiple lesions in my brain. So I needed to undergo 10 days of whole brain radiation. We are waiting for the inflammation to go down to do another scan to get the results of the radiation. My disease is stable elsewhere for the time being. I get infusions every 3 weeks of drugs that target the proteins in my cancer to keep it from spreading. I am adamant that I won’t let cancer bring me down. I have rough days at times, but I try to stay positive and know that God has his hand on me through everything. I am bound and determined to be here to watch my three children grow up. I am so thankful for the Cancer Freeze organization and everything they do to help families who have been impacted by this horrible disease.

Recipient #5

Hello, my name is Farah Presley. I am happily married and a proud mom of 4 children; Logan & Lacy that are twins ages 14, Lucas age 12 and stepchild Emmaleigh age 16.
My story begins in April of 2021 when I was feeling sick and thought I just had the stomach flu. I went to my primary doctor and he ordered bloodwork for me. He called within 2 days stating that he hoped there was some kind of mix up at the lab but, he needed to refer me to an oncologist that my bloodwork was abnormal.
My appointment was scheduled for May 20th. I went through those weeks prior to the appointment wondering and scared what was actually going on.
On May 20th I met with the oncologist and he ordered a panel of bloodwork. He explained that the counts from my primary doctor showed abnormalities but, he wanted to do his own blood tests for more in depth results.
Then the morning of May 21st,I received the phone call no one ever expects to receive. My oncologist stated he was very sorry to tell me over the phone but, the blood results showed I had Acute Myeloid leukemia.
I needed to report to the hospital immediately and start intensive chemotherapy and I would be in the hospital for over a month.
I dropped the phone and immediately called my husband crying because no one prepares you for a diagnosis of cancer. My life changed in a blink of an eye. My first hospital stay was 35 days and what I experienced would change my life forever. During the hospital stay I had two bone marrow biopsys and both confirmed my AML diagnosis . After the first chemotherapy treatment and I was released the nurses thought I was going home to die. My body was tired and I was so sick. But, I told myself that I have to live for my family and I would fight this fight harder than I have ever fought for anything. 5 weeks passed and I went in for my next in hospital consolation chemotherapy that was only for 5 days. On my arrival I saw the oncology nurse team that had cared for me prior and they could not believe how well I was doing and alive. During this second stay I had another biopsy done and it showed the chemotherapy was working and I was in remission. Since my second stay I have had two more consolation chemotherapy treatments. During one of the stays I caught RSV and pneumonia and was in the hospital for additional weeks.I went home on oxygen and with many prayers and keeping faith while fighting hard at this time I am thankful to say that I am off of oxygen and still in remission!
I have had numerous blood and platelet transfusions and I want to thank everyone who has ever donated blood and platelets because without your donations I would not be alive!
I don’t know what the future holds for me or how long I have left on earth but, I will keep fighting until my last breathe.
“Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Recipient #4

My name is Jason Campbell. I am 48 years old and have been a life-long resident of DeFuniak Springs, FL. My wife Jenny and I will celebrate twenty-five years of marriage this June, and we are blessed with three awesome kids, Jordan (21), Will (19), and Mackenzie (17). I am bi-vocational and look at both of my jobs as a calling rather than a profession. I have been employed by the Walton County School District since 1995, and for the past seven years, I have served as the principal of Walton Middle School. Since August 2003, I have also served as the pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church of Westville. I am grateful for the opportunity to love what I do on a daily basis.
March 2021 marks the beginning of a pretty rough stretch regarding news about my health. I went to the doctor for some discomfort in my left side. He ordered a CT scan to get more information. I was 47 years old at the time and having an IV for the first time in my life. Up until that point, I have been fairly healthy without any major illnesses or surgery. The scan discovered two things: a large stone in my left kidney which was too large to pass and the cause of my pain and a small mass on my right kidney. A second scan was ordered to get more information about the kidney mass, and a nodule was discovered on my right lung. In a matter of weeks, I found myself going from my general doctor about discomfort to an oncologist’s office in Pensacola.
As a pastor and a school administrator, I have been there for others as they received news regarding cancer, but I never thought I would be the one hearing the words cancer, biopsy, or oncologist. Biopsies of both my lung and kidney were done in July and both came back as malignant. The initial diagnosis of my lung nodule was small cell carcinoma, which is found in smokers 99% of the time, only I have never smoked. Doctors told us in July that if this was small cell carcinoma and if the cancer in my lung was connected to my kidney, then we would be talking more about treatment rather than a cure.
A failed surgical attempt in Pensacola to remove the lung nodule in August prompted us to travel from DeFuniak to the MD Anderson Cancer in Houston for treatment. Thankfully, that is when our news started to take a turn for the better. A different type of PET scan was done on my lung in Houston, which resulted in a change of diagnosis from small cell carcinoma to neuroendocrine cancer, which is far less aggressive. Even though it is still malignant, the fact that it is not fast growing meant that my doctors could focus on my kidney first and then my lung. A surgery to remove the mass from my kidney has been scheduled for October. Once I recover, another surgery will be scheduled to remove the tumor from my right lung. I hope to have both surgeries done before the end of the year. Tests at MD Anderson also confirmed that these two cancers are not related which means nothing has spread. We were thankful for that news. Since the discomfort in my kidney led to this being caught early, my doctors are hopeful that no chemotherapy or radiation will be needed after my surgeries. Compared to what we were hearing in July, we praise the Lord for this turn-around!
I wish I could say that my faith never wavered, but I must confess that for a while it seemed my world had turned upside down. It was during one of the visits to the oncologist’s office in Pensacola in July that I realized the Lord had given me a peace and a resolve to take this on. There was a song that we listened to during this time that said, “my soul has a shepherd in the valley, and I shall not want.” From that time until now, my heart has been settled on the fact that God has this.
I am very grateful for the support that I have received to take on this fight. My family, church family, friends, co-workers at Walton Middle School, and the Walton County School District have been so supportive. I am humbled by everyone who has said that they are praying for me. Our theme this year at WMS is “The Tribe Is Rising.” I have no doubt that through my faith and the support I have from this community, I am rising to meet this challenge! Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Recipient #3

Hello. My name is Carlana Martineck and I am currently fighting Invasive Ductile Carcinoma of the Breast, Triple Negative. This highly aggressive breast cancer is only found in about 10 to 15 % of all breast cancers, is fast growing and will spread rapidly if left untreated, and generally found in minority groups such as African American and Hispanic women.
So a little about me. I was originally born in Cincinnati, Ohio to my parents, Carl and Ana Martineck, and we lived in New Richmond, Ohio for approximately 13 years before moving to Paxton. My father, Carl, was 17 years older than my mom, Ana, and wanted to retire to a warmer climate than up North provided and to find a place that reminded him of the good old days when life was much simpler. They found Paxton and we moved here the beginning of my 8th grade year. My mother, after retiring up north as a Laboratory Technologist, worked at the local sewing factory in Florala, Alabama as my father enjoyed retired life on the farm. I attended Paxton High School from 8th grade to graduation in 1991. I played basketball as a Paxton Lady Cat under Coach Pittman, played percussion in the band, was active in various clubs in school, and was a generally average teenager. I had various behavior issues at the school due to culture shock of coming from New Richmond, a suburb of Cincinnati, leaving lifelong friends and extended family to move 700 miles away to a new school, a much quieter life, and the tribulations that come with teenage years. At 72, my father died suddenly my Senior year, about a month before graduation, and my world came crashing down. I was always my father’s little girl, and his death still causes me great sorrow to this day. I feel I truly lost a huge part of life as he was unaware I had been awarded a four year scholarship to Troy State University, walking me down the aisle, meeting his grandchildren, my subsequent graduations from Gulf Coast State College, Florida State University, and Florida Law Enforcement Academy, my various career endeavors, and the diagnosis and decline of my mother, and his wife Ana, 86, to Alzheimer’s disease. I have been my mother’s caretaker now for over 15 years, and the last 10 of those years have been actively hands on with her residing with me and her currently in Hospice in our house in the final stages of this crippling disease. I also have two sons, Jonathan Howell, who is 25 and works at Firestone Service Center in DeFuniak Springs and still resides with me to help me with his grandmother and now me, as much a shock to him as it was me. His younger brother, Joaquin Davis, is 13 and attends school at Paxton now too. He is currently in 7th grade and enjoys playing video games, eating pizza, roller skating and disc golf. He is diagnosed with Autism and is extremely worried about his mother; his diagnosis makes it difficult for him to understand social interactions and creates behavioral challenges. We moved back to Paxton to the family home from Bonifay, Florida, after my current husband had lost his job offshore as a boat captain due to an accident he had perpetrated. He became addicted to methamphetamine and was unable to keep steady employment, leaving me in February of this year, 3 months prior to my diagnosis. While he was between many short term jobs due to his drug addiction, he attempted to rehabilitate my family homestead, creating more of a mess than actually fixing, as his dependence on meth grew and his inability to actual complete any one remodeling project failed. So while I was working he packed up, stealing as many things he could from my residence that he could pawn along the way, and driving off to live in Oklahoma with his aging mother and stepfather, having no further contact with me after one week gone. I had tried to help him prior, asking and begging him to go to in house drug rehabilitation through my health insurance plan, asking him to seek therapy, to speak with local county law enforcement, who was willing to help him get the help he needed without resorting to legal implications, but he refused to accept he had a drug problem or any problems for that matter.
So presently I am in a fight for my life from breast cancer. I am employed with the United States Postal Service as a City Mail Carrier and I travel to many different offices in the district to fulfill that task, not having a primary route as I am a Part Time Flex employee, yet working 6 days a week at 50 plus hours even now in chemotherapy. I am a single parent, again, after 9 years of what I thought was a man who truly cared and loved me to find out our entire marriage has been one giant lie. I have one son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and an older son who battled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) during his formative years and now feels a sense or responsibility to step up and be the man of our household at 25 and assist me to take care of me, his little brother, and his dying grandmother. And myself taking care of my mother, their grandmother, in our home while she transitions from this world to the next with Hospice. All the while dealing with: a house that is in various stages of remodeling that I cannot afford to continue nor do I have the ability, energy and/or time, financial devastation due to the fact that my husband and I were deep in debt prior to him leaving and he has since skipped town on all his financial obligations as well, My car’s timing belt broke, leaving me using a motorcycle for a month to get back and forth to work, etc until I could scrape enough funds together to buy a vehicle, only to have that recently require transmission repair that I could not afford, causing me to buy another vehicle. The family all caught Covid, except me, at the beginning of the school year 2021 and I had to stay home and care for them while missing two weeks of chemotherapy. And the Post Office is currently struggling to hire/ keep people retained while package volumes soar and various offices deal with numerous open routes/ lack of people to deliver, causing me to work many times while not feeling well from chemotherapy because of staffing/ retention issues and watching fellow employees cancel leave or be forced/mandated to work.
But yet, with all these issues, all these obstacles, I am working, I am parenting, I am caregiving, and I am fighting with all my might against breast cancer. I was diagnosed in May of 2021 with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) after finding a lump in my left breast while making a phone call to set up my appointment for my annual female exam with my gynecologist office. I went from a simple “it’s probably nothing” to “it’s cancer” in a blink of an eye. I had a diagnostic mammogram on May 5th, followed by a breast biopsy on the 11th and the doctor looking at me and saying, “I see these a lot, I don’t want to scare you, but you look like you want the truth – it’s cancer” to be called two days later while I was delivering mail in Bonifay to be told over the phone I had cancer. Yes, over the phone while I was working! I finished the route, and then cried thinking how I might never deliver again. Off to find an oncologist while my gynecologist tried to convince me to get a general surgeon and “just get it cut out and go on with your life”…bad idea there! My cancer treatment plan is 12 rounds of Taxol chemotherapy weekly, followed by 4 A/C “Red Devil” chemotherapy sessions every other week, followed by surgery and radiation since it has traveled to my lymph nodes in my left armpit. As of this writing, I have completed my 12 rounds of Taxol. My hair started to fall out. Long hair half way down my back was cut short, then shaved off when it started falling out. My joints and skin hurts. I have nephropathy in my feet and hands, common but hopefully not permanent. Vision issues along with headaches. My recent trip to UAB shows that I have had response to the chemotherapy. My tumor is shrinking. However I have problems with my port in my chest and I am slated for a port study prior to starting this next rounds of chemotherapy. I am terrified that the weeks I have been off, the tumor will regrow. It will start to spread to other organs/ metastasize. I am worried that I will chicken out and not want to go back for chemotherapy, but I know I have friends that will take me, hold my hand, make me go even when I don’t feel like it. Friends, Co-workers, Family from up North, customers from various routes, have all made me feel less alone during my fight. They remind me to stay strong. To fight. To be the Warrior. That some days I can cry, but only for 10 minutes then I have to get up and keep going. They have gifted me rides to appointments, food, gifts, shoulders to cry on, bad jokes to laugh at, conversations to keep me going, money to get to appointments, cards of encouragement, prayers and even more prayers.
I have struggled with depression my entire life. Darkness would come, I would be suicidal; I was medicated for many years, struggling with my mental demons. I have been in and out of many relationships, marriages, etc. Cancer came as a strange blessing. My depression has taken a back seat to cancer. As I told my therapist, I am no longer suicidal, I have a will to live now. It’s strange to think that a disease could aide another disease, but I am able to see that my life has worth, it has purpose, it has meaning. That God is not mad at me, that He loves me and He had this plan and He knows with support I can handle this. That I am a daughter of the most High. And that this, Cancer, is but a Season. I can be the Warrior. That I can take up my shield and my sword and give it my all. And when I am tired, I can turn to my friends, my family, my support, and they will help me cry out to God to ask for help. That if I put my faith in Him, I will see a miracle! And I already have, in the faces and the pure love that people have already poured out to me. Churches of different denominations are praying for a Fallen Catholic they have never met just because a supporter attends them and gave my name to their prayer list.
I appreciate every single person who says a prayer for me. Or just lends an ear. Or tells me a joke, corny or not. It can’t be said enough, “Thank You”. Thank you to all who contribute. Thank you to all who give to Cancer Freeze. Thank you to those behind the scenes and those who serve to make sure that Cancer Freeze is the success that it is today. Thank you for being there when those who could use help during such a trial in their life, could use help but are too proud to ask, are able to see the efforts made by kind individuals as yourself. It is greatly appreciated! Thank you again, and again.

Recipient #2

Hi My name is Madysun Teal. I’m from Florala AL, I live with my Mom, two sisters (ShayLea and Emma)and my Nana. I love to read, spend time with my family, art’s, crafts, and Pokemon Go on the 8QB floor. On June 06, 2021 I turned 16 and like most I was excited I could try for my License. I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning with my arm hurting. At first I thought I slept on it wrong but, it wouldn’t get better. My Family and I came to 24th of June celebration it was hard to enjoy cause I felt bad and hurt. On June 28,2021 we went to a local Dr they did some testing and found I had a tumor on my left arm and it was cancer. They referred me to Clinic 11 at UAB where we meet are first Orthopedic Oncologist. Over the next few weeks I went through MRI, Blood Work, X-ray and Biopsy. On July 14,2021 the Dr called mom and confirmed that my tumor was Osteosarcoma. I was then set up with a team of Oncologist in clinic 8 at UAB. On July 21,2021 I had my first Pet Scan, I was a little nervous going in but I know God had me. After the Pet We meet back with the team and they confirmed that my cancer had spread to both of my lungs. On Friday July 23,2021 I had my port placed and started my first Chemotherapy called MAP. I completed ten weeks which six treatment. We then repeated all my scans to find out my cancer had not responded to the chemotherapy. My arm tumor had grown, spread to my shoulder and collar bone, My lungs mats have grown and multiple. They also found a new spot on my right arm. I started a new chemotherapy on October 15, 2021 and the treatment team says if it fails they will send me to a different treatment center. I’m saying God’s got me! We have decided to keep faith turn everything over to the Lord and Let him Guide these Dr and the best treatment for me. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. Thank You lots of Faith and Smiles Madysun

Recipient #1

This is Devan Meeks. We call him Monkey but he likes to go by Batman! He is two years old. He loves superhero’s and spending time outside with his five year old brother Cameron, his Mother Marisa and his Father Tyler.
All throughout August Monkey was taken to different doctors in Crestview due to the lymph nodes in the back of his skull and neck being swollen, hard and not tender. At least 3 times we were sent home and told it was nothing. “Probably just something viral,” they all said.
After a month of trying to get someone to actually look at him, we got him squeezed into his primary pediatricians office for September 7th. At the appointment he was very concerned after discovering a large mass in his stomach. His doctor ordered blood work, X-rays, and ultra sounds to be done immediately. Before close, the same day of the emergency tests we received a call from the doctors office. They asked us to be there first thing in the morning and we immediately knew that wasn’t a sign of good news.
That morning of September 8th we went to his follow up and found out that all of his blood work came back abnormal, his spleen was enlarged and his kidneys weren’t functioning correctly. Our baby, our two year old little Monkey was diagnosed with B CELL ALL Leukemia.
We were immediately sent to Sacred Heart in Pensacola to be admitted. In a matter of a few words and moments our world and the lives of those around us was turned upside down. Not knowing what to expect we went home and packed for who knows how long of a stay in the hospital without our 5 year old, without our other baby boy, without Monkeys brother.
Shorty after arriving at Pensacola Sacred Heart he was put on fluids along with oral meds to prevent tumor lysis. The first night in the hospital he had to fast for a procedure the next day at 1:15 PM to have a bone marrow biopsy done. No food or drinks past midnight for our 2 year old meant no milk in the morning while he wakes up and no grits or bacon for breakfast. Definitely a task easier said than done keeping him entertained until the procedure. During Monkeys biopsy on September 9th they tried his left side but it was too compacted with the leukemia cells , so they had to retry on the other side.
By Friday the 10th, his lymph nodes all over his body became swollen causing him pain to the point he didn’t want to walk or stand. He barely had an appetite. Later in the weekend he broke out in bruising and Petechiae, which is small red or purple spot on the skin, all over his body due to his platelets dropping so low.
On Monday the 13th he went into surgery again for his first lumbar puncture / chemo treatment in the spine. They also put in a chest port or as Monkey calls it, his “butterfly.”
After days of following his blood work and the biopsy being reviewed we received news the 15th saying Monkey doesn’t have signs of Leukemia in his spine and this would put him into the standard risk category.
While he’s standard risk the treatment plan is set for 2.5 years on average without hiccups. Regular transfusions, medications and fasting days. All of which he has been exposed to in a brief time span here at the hospital.
As of today, the 21st he received another lumbar puncture and chemo injection into the spine as well as two platelet transfusions prior to the procedure. His lymph nodes have decreased significantly in size and his desire to play and eat have gone up.
Once his labs and fever are under control he will be able to be discharged so long as he responds to his treatments well. After that we hope to be in clinic for treatment weekly to receive the care he needs and be there to love and support our Monkey through this fight.
This is something that no one could ever be prepared for not us, and certainly not our 2 year old baby. With plenty of changes and hurdles to come we stay strong together as a family, monkey strong.
Mark your calendars and make plans to join us on Saturday, February 5, 2022, at Lake Jackson in Florala, Al., where we’ll be supporting Monkey and our other 7 chosen recipients for Cancer Freeze 2022!