Tips, Experiences and Inspiration for Those who are Caring for the Seriously Ill. 

Megan McAuliffe

Michelle Boyer was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma at just 23 years old. Michelle suffers continual fatigue and bowel obstructions, her back hurts, as well as her lungs. She’s on constant pain medications and has trouble doing daily tasks, such as washing the dishes or walking her dog.

Despite this, Michelle exudes a calmness that is mesmerising, a quality she thanks her Dad for.

“Dad’s are special people. How I’ve been able to respond to my cancer is down to my dad and the way he bought me up. He’s always calm. I get that from him. We have a special connection. I’m definitely a Daddy’s girl.”

Their special connection comes from shared interests and passions. Her father a retired mechanical engineer, and Michelle a structural engineer (although she is unable to work currently due to her illness). She has memories of summer’s spent fishing and helping her dad build various little sheds and barns on their property.

Due to her illness and continued treatment, Michelle now 31 hasn’t been able to work for over a year. She still lives in her rental home in Seattle, Washington to maintain her independence. Her parents live 2 hours away and visit every other weekend. When she’s in hospital, they sit by her bedside everyday.

“They help out with chores and bring me groceries and meals. My Dad is a huge help. He’s the cook mainly. When he comes he always cooks me something healthy, like fish. I have a particular diet because of my bowel requirements.”

“He’s done all this research into healthy food. He makes me smoothies and buys everything organic, which I can’t afford,” Michelle said. 

“He also looks after my car. When my last car broke down, my dad magicked it away and a new used car appeared,” she said.

Michelle has Stage 4 metastatic melanoma, which spread to her bowels and liver, and more recently to her brain. She’s had back and lung surgery, and last summer she had brain surgery and radiation. She says the immunotherapy and targeted therapy treatment is keeping things mostly under control.

“When I had my brain surgery my Dad and I were playing canasta in the waiting room prior. I was winning, but got called into surgery before we could finish.”

“When I was in recovery, my Dad slyly tried to remind me that I had been losing the canasta game. I laughed and exclaimed, no way, I was winning! I even remembered the exact score,” Michelle said.

“I think that’s when we all knew my brain had made it through surgery just fine.”

Michelle is spending Father’s Day with her Mum and Dad at her Grandparents home.

“I’m going to whip up a cross stitch to give to them, saying ‘if grandparents were flowers, I’d pick you.’” 

For her Dad, it’s a lego kit they can build together.

“The special handmade projects are something I like doing, it keeps my hands busy and it’s something that my family can remember me by.”

“I can’t change that I have cancer, but I can change my perspective. That’s how I cope,” Michelle said.