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Melana Ligertwood hiked 22.7 miles last year in honor of her son Max’s cancer diagnosis; this year, she’s helping others hike.
Houston, TX – When Melana Ligertwood’s son Max was only 8 weeks old, he was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, which affects 7% of all children with cancer. The lives of everyone in their family came to a sudden halt.
“Our entire world refocused with him at the center, and for months, everything else got pushed aside, including our older daughter. There were many ups and downs, many scary days, and I’ll never forget the heartbreak of signing consent forms to give our tiny son chemotherapy with a long list of serious potential side effects, including deafness and cancer later in life.”
Thankfully, Max’s side effects from treatment have been mild and today, he is a cheeky, funny, and happy 2 1/2-year-old who loves snuggles and adores his big sister! He is loved beyond measure, and there isn’t a day that goes by where his mother doesn’t look at his sweet face and think how lucky she is.
After this experience, Melana decided to participate in the 2016 Ultimate Hike to bring awareness to pediatric cancer and raise money to find better cures and treatments. She realized just how underfunded childhood cancer treatments are, and she was determined to help in whatever way she could.
Melana heard about the hike, and CureSearch, through her friend Whitney, who was searching for an endurance challenge for a good cause. Although she is not a hiker, she wanted to train and center all the feelings she had endured the past two years. It wasn’t about the hike – it was about embracing being a part of the “cancer mom” club and overcoming a difficult challenge.
Her first training challenge was a “short” 10 miles, by far the longest hike she had ever done, and it was tough. It was hot and muggy and her hips were sore, but suddenly she told herself:
“I had already endured the most difficult challenge of my life, and that was nothing compared to what her precious son had endured. Of course I could do this. Of course I would. I used images and memories of my son and our fierce warrior friends still fighting to spur me on. They were doing the hard part. All I had to do was keep walking.”
This year, Melana plans to volunteer at the Lone Start Ultimate Hike Trail and help other hikers reach their own personal goals. She also wants to help CureSearch reach its goal. “Our Max, and all children diagnosed with cancer, deserve the opportunity to beat this disease with newer, safer treatments.”
People interested in joining Melana and other dedicated hikers should register at www.ultimatehike.org/lonestar.
In its seventh year, CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike is the original endurance fundraiser on the Dolly Sods Wilderness Trail, and the only endurance hiking fundraiser to fight cancer, the number one disease killer of children.
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md, works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch is building a $10 million research pipeline to aggressively drive pediatric research grants and clinical trials that have a higher chance of becoming cures for children’s cancer without the toxic side effects that plague current treatment options.