Tribute to brave Melissa

A mum has paid tribute to her “bloody brave” daughter who died in her arms last month aged 19 from cancer.

Melissa Pearce of Canterbury Way, Stevenage was enjoying her teenage years, shopping, going out with friends and had just started a business course at North Herts College when she began to get headaches in September 2009.

When these headaches persisted, accompanied by sickness, it was clear that something was wrong. In February, after undergoing tests for everything from eyesight to blood count, doctors gave Melissa and her family the terrible news that she had a rare terminal brain tumour. She was given a life expectancy of five-and-a-half to six years.

Melissa’s mum Tracy Malyon said that from that day on her shy daughter put up a hugely brave and selfless fight.

“From the day when she was born she was always a shy girl. The day she was taken into hospital she changed,” Tracy said. “As she walked out she said can you stop a moment. She turned around and thanked all the people for helping her. I asked her ‘what have you done with my daughter’?

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“A new part come out. She grew up. Right from when she was diagnosed she never thought of herself. She was worried about who was going to look after us if she died.”

The former Martins Wood juniors and Barclays Secondary School pupil who had been a top Stevenage swimmer and diver in her mid-teens just wanted to carry on as normally as possible, Tracy said.

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“She was so brave. She tried to go out with her friends when she could. She grew up overnight. She knew exactly what was wrong with her.

“A lot of people didn’t know. She didn’t want people to know. She didn’t want people thinking ‘there goes that girl with cancer’. She just didn’t want people feeling sorry for her. She wanted people to say ‘there’s Melissa’.”

“For a 19-year-old girl to go through that and just carry on as normally as she could - I don’t know how she did it.”

Despite intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy the tumour spread to Melissa’s spine. This, as her grandfather Dave Pearce, said, hit her like an express train.

Tracy said: “When she was diagnosed, I thought what a short time. She died ten months after.”

Melissa died at home after care from “magnificent medical staff” on October 29 in her mother’s arms.

“All I wanted was her not to be alone and she wasn’t alone.

“She went through hell, but it never bothered her. I just want people to know how bloody brave she was.”

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