Building a Team of Champions to Combat Blood Cancer
How has blood cancer affected me?

My name is Jacqui Mellott and I had the distinct honor and privilege of being Nick Colleluori’s primary nurse during his multiple stays at the hospital while he battled Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. What a compliment to be a part of this Team of Champions to combat blood cancer.

Team of Champions - Jacqui MellotI have been a nurse for 15 years, 10 of the past in the Oncology field. I remember when I decided to change specialties and take care of cancer patients. I was so emotionally sad and confused about why it happens especially to young people. I thought instead of wasting time trying to figure out WHY it happens, it was time to join the crusade to combat cancer because it DOES happen.

When faced with the challenge of writing about how blood cancer has affected me, I find myself filled with so many thoughts and emotions that it is not easy to put into words. Too often, people comment on how they don’t understand how I do what I do every day; how difficult it must be. I can’t always answer when people ask, “How do you do it?” because some days I just don’t know. But what I do know is this…I am appreciative each day for what I have. I am grateful that God gives me the strength and courage to help cancer patients and their families through some of their most difficult days. When I leave my home filled with 3 beautiful children and husband from Lancaster County, PA to drive 75 miles to get to work, any stress that I may have had throughout my day is easily left behind when I walk into a patient’s room. Forget the last minute homework that needed to be done, the dinner that needed to be cooked, the dropping off at sports practice or sitting through an extra hour traffic jam to show up at work 10 minutes late. These things seem so insignificant when it comes down to real life stressors. Real life stress like going through cancer. As I wise young man named Nick once said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Thank you Nick, for being so wise and mature!

Taking care of Nick Colleluori and his family was by far one of the best experiences in nursing I have ever had. Yes, a tragic and devastating ending to a life loss at such a young age. However, so many wise and life altering lessons for people who knew him and who have come to know him through the Headstrong Foundation to have learned. I most admired Nick for his tenacity and spirit. He was willing to do whatever it took to beat his cancer. No job was too tough for him. He was the backbone for his family and friends and never gave up. It was the lymphoma that overcame him, not his lack of determination to want to defeat it. I know that Nick realized that he had cancer for a reason. That there was a greater good to come from it. That something he wanted to do was to help others handle the highs and lows that came from living with cancer. That just because we don’t always know WHY cancer happens…it DOES happen…and we need to join forces to help combat it. Thank you Colleluori Family for following through with Nick’s wishes to continue with the Headstrong Foundation. It is through people like yourselves that others will learn from and know that each of us can make a difference.

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