John Scoblick lost his daughter, Melissa Estes, to metastatic breast cancer in 2019. Now, he serves as an advocate for Susan G. Komen and Leadership Council Member in hopes that one day, no father has to lose a child to breast cancer. This is his story in his own words.
Melissa was a fighter. When a radiologist told her she shouldn’t worry about the lump she had found, Melissa saw another doctor, who agreed with the radiologist. She was just 32, but she had a gut feeling something was wrong and pushed for a biopsy. That’s when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
Melissa’s passion was helping others. She worked as a counselor, and for a time, helped breast cancer patients and their families navigate the emotions that a diagnosis brings. She fundraised for breast cancer events, and she was so committed to her profession that she refused to cancel a speech she was scheduled to make at a luncheon for a local breast cancer organization. She was given the opportunity to back out, but she refused. So, three days after her mastectomy, I picked her up and drove her to the luncheon, drain tubes and all, so she could make her speech. After multiple standing ovations, there was not a dry eye in the house.
In addition to the mastectomy, she underwent six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Her scans showed no cancer for a year. Then came the news – the cancer was back, and this time, it was metastatic. She stayed so strong and motivated throughout her final year. I remember being in the recovery room with her following her liver biopsy. She got a call on her cell phone. She said, “I have to take this.” It was a client. She was on the phone for what seemed like forever, and she never once let on what she was going through. She was just incredible.
We lost Melissa on Nov. 21, 2019. She was just 36. The following year, I looked for some way to connect with her memory. This was right in the middle of COVID, and all events in my area had been canceled. But there was one – the Komen 3-Day in San Diego – that was still scheduled to go on, and the first day of the walk fell on the first anniversary of her passing. I registered, and it seemed like within the hour I got the call that the event was postponed to 2021. But as it turns out, the Closing Ceremony for the 2021 3-Day would fall on the second anniversary.
My initial plans were to walk as an individual and get lost in the sea of participants. However, a colleague in California invited me to join her team and I agreed. I had the privilege of sharing Melissa’s story and her drive to find the cures to end breast cancer. It was an incredible experience that has led me to even greater opportunities to serve in Melissa’s place as a breast cancer advocate. I’m a member of the Komen Leadership Council in Central Texas and have participated in legislative advocacy events. I even had the privilege to share Melissa’s story on Komen’s Real Pink Podcast.
Additionally, I’m the team captain for “Sweet Melissa,” my team for the Central Texas MORE THAN PINK Walk. I’ve never been comfortable with fundraising; asking people for money is just not in my DNA. But when I first shared Melissa’s story, I was overwhelmed by the response. It’s not fundraising in the traditional sense. I’m a conduit for Melissa to continue to fight against breast cancer, and people are donating because of her. My involvement with the 3-Day and Walk has taught me that you never know what’s going to connect with someone. We’re all just one degree of separation away from knowing someone – a friend, family member or colleague – who has been impacted by breast cancer. You’ve just got to put it out there.
Her work isn’t done, but I’m doing my part to help end breast cancer. I think Melissa would be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I witnessed her passion and dedication to the fight against breast cancer and how she held up through everything she endured. It can never take the pain of losing her away, but it does give me peace.
John will be participating in the 2023 Komen Central Texas MORE THAN PINK Walk on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. To donate to his team, visit the Sweet Melissa team page.
Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.