HESPERIA — Three years after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, Melanie Hipsher is still fighting for her life, with the support of family and friends and a large dose of humor and faith.
The 33-year old Navy veteran and registered nurse at St. Joseph Health, St. Mary was diagnosed with a rare pregnancy-induced breast cancer during the third month of her pregnancy with her daughter, Tatum, in 2013.
Recently, Hipsher’s family was given the news that her time may be limited as the cancer has spread throughout her body. Those close to the family told the Daily Press they’re working to help raise funds for the Hesperia family who are trying to forge happy memories, pay a mountain of medical bills and to prepare for Melanie’s possible departure.
“Melanie is a special woman who has battled so hard,” family friend Sandi Stromberg told the Daily Press. “We're helping them create those special memories and I think it needs to be expressed that her husband, Robby, may be a single dad raising four young children on a single income.”
From the moment the Hipsher family received news of Melanie’s cancer, and the prognosis of only having a 20 percent chance of survival, Melanie Hipsher said it was not a “woe-is-me situation, where we start scheduling the pity party.” Years later, she still maintains the same attitude.
“I have to keep reminding myself that God gives his hardest battles to his toughest warriors," said Hipsher as she's overcome cervical cancer as a teen and recently endured several surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and taken a mountain of medication. "(I'm) still fighting and I won't give up.”
Family and friends have started helping Melanie complete items on her “bucket list.” Some of those memories have included a San Diego getaway earlier this month where Melanie went to the beach, stuck her feet in the sand, smelled the ocean and built sand castles with her kids.
After the family camped out on the beach and enjoyed hot dogs and s’mores, the Hipshers spent the day at Sea World where they fed orcas, watched the dolphins and took in several shows.
Stromberg said an army of friends wearing pink "Team Hipsher" T-shirts accompanied the Hipshers at Sea World where the marine park rolled out the red carpet for the family.
In April, Robby and Melanie Hipsher sat in the oldest seats in major league baseball at Fenway Park in Boston where the couple watched the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees.
“Melanie is a champion for the way she’s handling this,” said friend Angie Miller, who also works at St. Mary’s in Apple Valley. “Melanie is so inspirational and how she’s handling this sends a strong message of perseverance, faith and family.”
Miller said as supporters of the Hipshers support their efforts, many are also concerned for the future as Robby Hipsher raises Jayden, Dakoda, Lexi and Tatum by himself.
Robby Hipsher told the Daily Press that as difficult as it may be, the couple is working hard to live day-by-day and to be as positive as possible.
“We got married five years ago and we never got a honeymoon,” Robby Hipsher said. “When her dad found out that Melanie’s cancer spread into her liver he decided to pay for our honeymoon.”
A big Red Sox fan, Robby Hipsher said his wife insisted the couple visit Boston to help with her husband’s bucket list and her own. The couple spent six days in Bean Town, where they took in two ballgames, toured the city, visited the New England Aquarium and walked the historic Freedom Trail, a nearly 3-mile long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the U.S.
“The Make-A-Wish Dream Foundation granted us a trip to Disneyland,” said Robby Hipsher, who works at Valley-Hi Toyota. “We also plan on staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove where they have an indoor water park.”
Robby Hipsher, who plans to soon work for St. Mary’s as monitor technician, said the family is appreciative of those helping to forge happy memories.
Cindy Woodman is planning an Origami Owl jewelry fundraising party at Faith Lutheran Church for the Hipshers. The event will coincide with a church barbecue and visitors are encouraged to come and order anytime, or just stop by for fellowship.
Those wanting to eat should register by searching "Origami Owl Fundraiser for Melanie Hipsher" on Facebook. The fundraiser is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Faith Lutheran Church, 9600 Seventh Ave. in Hesperia.
To make a donation, search "Mel's Terminal Cancer Family Fund" on GoFundMe.com. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/MelaniesBreastCancerJourney.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.