When community do-gooder, Ron Aughtmon, speaks of Melissa Close Farmer, words like, 'hero', 'fighter', 'determination' are spoken. Melissa, a volunteer firefighter and EMT in the Ransomville region, is just 33-years-old and battling an aggressive form of cervical cancer. So aggressive that Ron says doctors have declared that it's inoperable.
"She has gone through numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and it spread to her femur, liver and lungs," explains Ron.
Ron, Co-Founder of The John Fiore Foundation, isn't related to Melissa but knows her impact on the community through his son and daughter, who are also in the firefighting service. News of her tragic illness has hit local departments hard, and companies have rallied continuously for Melissa and her husband.
"It's been a very tough go for her, and she is so young. The outcome isn't optimistic, but you can't lose hope," Ron says.
Melissa has been undergoing chemo that isn't just rigorous - it's expensive. Funds that are being raised for Melissa in all directions are going straight to the piling medical bills. With uncertainty looming, Melissa and her family are taking it day by day. But one thing is for certain - Melissa loves her hometown of Western New York and the Buffalo Bills. Ron says knowing how much hometown support she has around her is inspiring.
"Look at what you all are doing, who support 26 Shirts. You are making a difference for people here in this community - people who need us, like Melissa. It's really something to be proud of."
Melissa's 26 Shirt campaign launched 7/26 and runs through 8/8. This story provided in partnership with Kate Glaser of Hope Rises. Learn more at www.hoperisesnews.com