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Melanie Bramlett and her medical mystery

By Kay S. Pedrotti Sun-worshipping and tanning beds nearly had a disastrous result for Barnesville’s Melanie Bramlett ‘because I didn’t know any better,’ she says. ’You know when you’re a young Southern girl, you think you have to be tan,’ she adds. ‘Besides outdoor sunning, I used to lay in the tanning bed four or five times a week. Now I need everyone to know how bad that can be for your body.’ Bramlett, 38, had a mole removed in 2005 that tested positive for melanoma. In 2007, when she had a 3-month-old baby, the cancer resurfaced in her lymph nodes. She was given a 14% chance of surviving for a year, ‘if that,’ she says. ’My records say I’m a ‘˜medical mystery.’ Really I know God healed me and I’m still alive for a reason. When you’ve been through an experience like this, you learn to live more passionately and appreciate everything. It was a scary experience but I knew I had to beat the cancer in my mind first, then overcome it.’ She says she did not know melanoma is the fastest-growing, most aggressive cancer there is and one for which there is no cure. Bramlett underwent chemotherapy for a year and operations that resulted in 38 scars from lymph node and mole removals. Every day, an hour each in the morning and evening and 30 minutes in mid-day, she has to ‘sit in a lymphoderma pump, which squeezes the fluids that the lower lymph nodes used to handle, up into my abdomen where they can be disposed through my remaining lymph nodes.’ If people could see what that machine means, she notes, they would immediately use more sunscreen and use it every time they went outside, not just when swimming, boating or during other outdoor recreation. Throughout her ordeal, Bramlett was determined to be as positive as possible and to do as much as she could. ’I thought if I just stayed home and thought about it, I might really die,’ she says. ‘I was a youth pastor at Voice to the Nations church in Grif­fin at the time ‘“ I’m still a member ‘“ and I preached every sermon to the kids. When I was doing chemo, during the services I’d go into the bathroom and be sick and then run back to be with the youth.’ Besides her faith and her church members she counts her husband Tommy and children Ryan and Madison (7-year-old Landon was just a baby then) along with her parents Tommy and Debbie Scott and sister Christine Carmichael as vital support troops for her at that time. Christine is a nurse and demanded all the facts from Bramlett’s doctors. When she was told of the low survival rate, Christine researched until she found ‘people who made it,’ Bramlett says. ‘She brought the cases to me and said to focus on these and keep believing I’d make it. I did make it and I’ll never stop being grateful to God and to my doctors. I know who to thank first, always.’

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