“I just sank to the floor of the shower,” Melissa Canaday said.
Melissa Canaday was 47-year-old when she first found a lump in her breast.
Her daughter, actress Sarah Hyland from Modern Family, was in need of a kidney transplant and Melissa was slated to be the donor. As a result, she was constantly conducting self-breast exams.
“A Sunday in the shower, I did my breast exam no problem,” Melissa Canaday remembered. “Three days later, I was in the shower and was like why not, I’ll do it again. Oh no! what is that. It didn’t hurt, it moved, it was pretty solid.”
Not long after, Melissa, who has no family history of breast cancer, received the news from her radiologist.
“The hardest thing I had to do was tell my kids, We called Sarah first because she’s the oldest, without any hesitation she said, I’m quitting the show, I’m coming home. I said you’re not quitting that show you’ve worked way too hard,” she explained. “My son was entering his freshman year in high school. And I said, you know how I found that lump? And he said, yeah. And I said well, I’m sorry. It’s breast cancer. He was there for me. He would go to school, he would come home and he would curl up next to me and do his homework. My husband had to go out of town a lot because we’re all actors. So he would get a contract so we could keep our insurance but my mom came for a couple of months and she was helpful. but really my rock was my son.”
With the support of friends and family, Melissa underwent a triple lumpectomy, node resection, chemo and radiation.
“I’ve told people this and they think I’m crazy, but breast cancer was probably one of the best thing to happen to me,” Melissa said. “And I know that sounds weird and odd. But it brought me back to me, I live every day for me now.”
After a year of Heceptin, Melissa was declared cancer free.
“Now I cry, I cry for my friends who are getting it and I cry from my friends who have had it and are going through a recurrence,” she said.
To pay it forward, Melissa decided to take part in the Avon Walk.
“I started fundraising in April 2010 and within 24 hours I already had my minimum of $1,800,” she recalled.
The money kept coming in and before she knew it…
“I was at 16 , over s$16,000 for the walk that year,” she smiled.
Melissa was asked to be the survivor speaker that year. Since then she’s raised more than $75,000 for the Avon Walk.
“They’re working with research organizations, they’re asking them to come together as a whole to lock metastatic breast cancer, just lock it out,” she said. “I think the strides we are making is pretty phenomenal.”
But what makes her come back each time even after six years?
“To give hope to that woman who’s standing in the shower going oh no. why me?” she said. “That’s why I’m going to continue doing the walk. No matter what. My feet will fall off and I’ll still be doing the walk,” she laughed.