Cristian Rivera Foundation

Melina Edenfields

 The Monumental Life of Melina

Joy. That seems to be the only emotion the Edenfields could use to describe their daughter Melina. Pure joy in the form of a little girl. Michelle, Melina’s mom, described that when she became pregnant with her third girl she anticipated Melina to have the personality of a “wallflower”. To much of her and her husband Keith’s surprise, Melina was the complete opposite. Melina was an overachiever through and through. Born November 15th, 2015, Melina exhibited great prodigy when she was younger. Her parents described the times where Melina would swim around at the age of two and a half without any floatation support. For a child this age, it is almost impossible to swim without them. Explaining that Melina wanted to keep up with her older sisters as much as possible, she decided to shed her “floaties” and venture off through the deep end on her own. 

That seemed to be a running theme when it came to discussing Melina’s personality. Her parents expressed that her young age did not stop her from doing absolutely anything. By three, Melina was already following her big sisters with their T-ball team that was composed of five- and six-years old’s. When it came to her sickness, that did not stop her from doing what she loved until she could not anymore. Melina’s dad, Keith said it best, “The better question to ask is ‘What couldn’t Melina do?’ The answer to that is to sing.” They both winced slightly at the thought of their daughter screaming off-key around their home. Other than that attribute, it seemed as though Melina took every challenge head-on with grace and ferociousness. When it came to fashion, Melina showed extra fierceness in her choice of colors and patterns. According to Michelle, Melina’s favorite colors were “green and every color of the rainbow”. Green only had a slight advantage over the other colors, but besides that, she could not pick a favorite. A pattern Melina loved was called “Cheeto print” and she adored it. Others may call it a leopard print but to Melina, “Cheeto” was it. One day Melina decided to coordinate an entire “Cheeto” outfit, but could not seem to find her matching pants. When Melina asked her mom Michelle, she expressed the pants might be too much. Melina famously spoke the words “Oh mommy, it’s never enough.” Just those moments show how unapologetic Melina was about being herself.

When Melina was first brought to the emergency room by her mother on May 22nd, 2020. Melina seemed to be feeling under the weather and complained of a headache and symptoms similar to the flu. Once in the ER, the doctors explained that there was a tumor identified on tests, but it was inconclusive what it was. It was not until June 5th, that Melina was diagnosed with Diffuse Midline Glioma (DMG). DMG is very similar to DIPG, but the location of the tumor differs slightly. For patients with DMG, the tumor lies slightly higher on the brain stem. However, treatments are identical for patients with DMG and DIPG.

From Melina’s diagnosis, her mother Michelle explained they were going to “follow her lead” every step of the way. Melina chose joy every single day, she chose to be happy and her family followed her direction. The same resilience that Melina showed in activities is exactly how she lived once she was diagnosed. Melina continued to do everything she loved to do until the last possible moment. It shows her strong and determined character to live her life as fully as possible. Melina, unfortunately, passed thirty-two days from the day they found the tumor on June 24th, 2020.

Michelle and Keith Edenfield were determined that they were going to do anything possible to ensure this does not happen to another family. They established the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation to raise funds for clinical trials for pediatric brain tumors. They are using this foundation to write Melina’s story from here, her way. The website for their foundation is mmefoundation@joy.org. On the website there are articles and more stories about Melina, and also ways to support her family and foundation.

By Emma Hall

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