Melinda came into this world 47 years ago not breathing. When revived, it was quickly realized she had a serious birth injury that could not be repaired. Being born to a diabetic mother, Melinda weighed in at 12.6 at birth. She had extensive nerve damage and deformity to her right arm. At age 26, she began experiencing traveling pain. Melinda was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It did not stop there. A few years passed and she was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. She faught a personal battle gaining then losing over 100 pounds and keeping it off, all the while enduring pain that is unbearable and still embracing life. She continues her life mission to help others not only survive this disease but live a productive life filled with hope, happiness and joy! Melinda believes in her plight so much that she has branded herself. She had a tattoo placed on her back at the jean line that states she is “On A Mission”. When asked about the reason for the placement of her tattoo, she laughs, “Men are always looking at my backside when they shouldn’t be, so what better place to get my message across? When people ask me what “on a mission” means, I tell my story of hope for others.”
No, the story does not end here. About four years ago, Melinda was watching the constant news reports about Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast. Everyone she spoke with had well wishes for the victims of the storm but not many actually got involved. Melinda did. Not only did she give up her holiday to visit the ravished coast, she moved her entire family there to help with the rebuilding the only way she knew how…through food. She prepared gourmet meals for the out of town workers complete with an entrée, fresh baked breads or rolls, cakes, pies and strudels made from scratch and a drink or two, then delivered to their job sites. Melinda also helped in the rebuilding of a playground, cleaned streets, volunteered at the Red Cross in the shelter, and attended the public speaker workshop at Camp Mash in Alabama. She became an Ambassador for the National Arthritis Foundation for her Congressional District. Melinda befriended strangers in need, helped with painting, paperwork, cooking and was a much needed friend to those in need. She allowed a homeless man to move in with her family until he could get back on his feet. To the residents Melinda proudly earned the name “The Cake Lady”. She not only cooked for neighbors, but baked daily and shared. All this with pain levels exceeding level 8 each and everyday.
Where she is today
Melinda has followed her dreams all the way to the Food Network. She competed on the Ultimate Recipe Showdown in 2008. She has also authored two books: The first, Yankee Cooking with Southern Charm was released in 2008.
The Second, A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis*, is scheduled to be released in September of this year. The second book is the first of its kind. This book was designed to help the physically challenged regain their independence in the kitchen. The color step by step photos and delectable recipes take the reader on a culinary journey around the world pain free and fearless. The target market for her latest release is suffers of chronic pain, arthritis (all 100 + forms), people with injuries (may it be temporary or permanent), disabled and people who simply enjoy food and cooking. Melinda will take her book on her journey across the US, in hopes of offering a bright beacon of light to the sufferers of disability, young and old alike.
*Book is being offered at $22.99. Mention the CODE: 2CRE8 and receive a 10% discount.
Melinda on the web: www.cookingwitharthritis.com
Melinda’s contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @mobilegourmet47
Cell on the road: 228-265-2928
Thank you Melinda for sharing your inspirational story with me. I'm humbled and deeply honored. Despite it all, you've truly grown up to be a "winner!"
I hope this story inspires you as it has for me. Comment below and tell me one thing you'll do to overcome a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle or a challenge you're going to try and face head on.
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