Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation
Who We Are
Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation honors the inspiring life journey of Melissa Sengbusch who died June 22, 2000 at age 19, after living with a rare bone marrow cancer for more than two years.
Our vision is that all teens with cancer have opportunities for meaningful, life-affirming experiences, beginning at diagnosis, continuing through treatment and remission and, if necessary, when facing death.
The Foundation provides resources to help teens living with cancer meet their life challenges in productive, creative, and satisfying ways. Melissa’s Living Legacy also addresses issues relevant to the families and friends of teens living with cancer, as well as to healthcare professionals who care for them.
Melissa’s Living Legacy is dedicated to upholding and fostering the basic values of honesty, compassion, self-determination, courage and perseverance while promoting quality of life throughout all stages of disease.
Statement of Need
Although rare, nearly 15,000 teens are in active treatment for cancer each year. By 2010, one in every 450 young people may suffer from late effects of childhood cancer.
Melissa’s journey with this disease highlighted the unique challenges confronting teens living with cancer:
Physical changes and/or disfigurement when appearance is a paramount concern
Loss of peer group and acceptance when inclusion is a primary need
Reproductive challenges and sexual dilemmas at a time of emerging sexuality
Unsolicited dependence at a time of newfound independence
Loss of control when new boundaries are just being tested
Though Melissa received excellent medical care, her experience exposed limited focus on these teen issues as well as the absence of helpful resources for teens with cancer.
Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation is dedicated to bridging this gap in service.
What We Do
Teen Cancer Web Site
Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation sponsors Teens Living with Cancer (TLC), www.teenslivingwithcancer.org, a web site dedicated to teens living with cancer. TLC provides an array of resources to support teens, their families and friends. TLC focuses on challenging teen issues, presents information about cancer and treatment written at teens’ level of interest, provides opportunities to interact with other teens living with cancer, and offers links to relevant sites.
Lecture Series, Forums, Conferences
Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation sponsors lectures and forums through medical and nursing schools to heighten awareness of the unique challenges facing teens living with cancer. Interactive workshops help practitioners better respond to these teen needs.
We also present at national conferences and related events in order to advocate for the needs of teens living with cancer.
Melissa’s Living Legacy Foundation intends to support research in areas of concern to teens living with cancer. Of particular interest is nursing research in adolescent oncology dealing with quality of life issues.