Fort Mill Times

HANNAH MELTON: She's on top of life

"With CF, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow,"says Hannah Melton. "I have to move on. I can't live like that."
"With CF, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow,"says Hannah Melton. "I have to move on. I can't live like that."

Hannah Melton looks death in the face.

Daily.

The 16-year-old Fort Mill has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that triggers mucus buildup around her lungs and intestines -- a buildup that can lead to an infection.

Or death.

Even though Hannah has cystic fibrosis, the disease doesn't have Hannah.

That's why the teen participated in the Great Strides walk-a-thon, a CF fundraiser held Saturday in Charlotte.

"I like to be out there and show people I can do it even if I have to work 10 times harder than most people," Hannah, a sophomore at Nation Ford High School, said of the 2.1-mile trek around Charlotte's streets.

Hannah's best friend, Lauren Howell, raised $453 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hannah's team raised $1,100.

"She's a cheerleader for them," Reva Melton said of her daughter. "She believes that if it wasn't for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation that she wouldn't be living right now."

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. About 30,000 children and adults in the United States are living with the inherited and chronic disease, according to the foundation's Web site. About 1,000 cases are diagnosed yearly, and the majority of the patients -- some 70 percent -- are diagnosed by the age of 2.

Against all odds

On the go

And she won't live in a box, she said.

"There are people who have CF who just sit at home," she said. "They don't hang out with their friends or go to the lake or the beach."

But Hannah doesn't live that way.

"I do activities," she said of her overly busy schedule. "We can do activities and be normal."

Normalcy for Hannah means swimming, playing tennis, participating in pageants, drawing - vases, candles and flowers are a specialty - as well as playing the piano and flute, performing in musicals and cheerleading.

"She runs across the (football) field yelling, 'Go Falcons!'" Reva Melton said of her daughter, a former Nation Ford High cheerleader. "She has spirit. She has energy. Most people look at her and think she can't possibly have this life threatening disease and look and act like this. But she does."

The teen used to help lift and hold cheerleaders. She still cuts back hand springs and spikes tennis balls; Exercising keeps her in life's race.

"It makes me feel better," she said. "It makes me not feel like an outcast."

Yet, exercising is so much more for Hannah.

"She needs to stay active," Reva Melton said.

To stay healthy.

To live.

"Kids with CF who exercise and play sports, their prognosis is better," Reva Melton said. "They get over lung infections quicker than those who don't exercise."

Hannah also swallows 30 pills a day and about 10 more if she's sick. And there's a vest she must wear twice daily. It is hooked to a machine and is used to help clean the area around Hannah's lungs by loosening mucus.

"The mucus is a breeding ground for bacteria," Melton said. "It (the machine) helps keep mucus out of her lungs."

Getting congested is what could trigger an infection, which sometimes can be fatal. Two weeks ago, Hannah was sick.

"I felt like death," she said. "I didn't feel like getting up or moving or doing anything. I just wanted to sleep."

And she did. For six days.

And the teen is young enough to wish for anything, even life. But she's smart enough to know better. If she had one wish, it would be for CF awareness.

"I'd wish for everybody to understand about CF and what people with CF have to go through on a daily basis," she said.

Hannah plans to attend the College of Charleston. She wants to be a doctor who studies and works on lungs.

Maybe even find a cure for CF.

"Maybe," she said.

FORT MILL TOWNSHIP -- Hannah Melton looks death in the face.

Daily.

The 16-year-old Fort Mill has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that triggers mucus buildup around her lungs and intestines -- a buildup that can lead to an infection.

Or death.

Even though Hannah has cystic fibrosis, the disease doesn't have Hannah.

That's why the teen participated in the Great Strides walk-a-thon, a CF fundraiser held Saturday in Charlotte.

"I like to be out there and show people I can do it even if I have to work 10 times harder than most people," Hannah, a sophomore at Nation Ford High School, said of the 2.1-mile trek around Charlotte's streets.

Hannah's best friend, Lauren Howell, raised $453 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hannah's team raised $1,100.

"She's a cheerleader for them," Reva Melton said of her daughter. "She believes that if it wasn't for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation that she wouldn't be living right now."

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. About 30,000 children and adults in the United States are living with the inherited and chronic disease, according to the foundation's Web site. About 1,000 cases are diagnosed yearly, and the majority of the patients -- some 70 percent -- are diagnosed by the age of 2.

Against all odds

On the go

And she won't live in a box, she said.

"There are people who have CF who just sit at home," she said. "They don't hang out with their friends or go to the lake or the beach."

But Hannah doesn't live that way.

"I do activities," she said of her overly busy schedule. "We can do activities and be normal."

Normalcy for Hannah means swimming, playing tennis, participating in pageants, drawing - vases, candles and flowers are a specialty - as well as playing the piano and flute, performing in musicals and cheerleading.

"She runs across the (football) field yelling, 'Go Falcons!'" Reva Melton said of her daughter, a former Nation Ford High cheerleader. "She has spirit. She has energy. Most people look at her and think she can't possibly have this life threatening disease and look and act like this. But she does."

The teen used to help lift and hold cheerleaders. She still cuts back hand springs and spikes tennis balls; Exercising keeps her in life's race.

"It makes me feel better," she said. "It makes me not feel like an outcast."

Yet, exercising is so much more for Hannah.

"She needs to stay active," Reva Melton said.

To stay healthy.

To live.

"Kids with CF who exercise and play sports, their prognosis is better," Reva Melton said. "They get over lung infections quicker than those who don't exercise."

Hannah also swallows 30 pills a day and about 10 more if she's sick. And there's a vest she must wear twice daily. It is hooked to a machine and is used to help clean the area around Hannah's lungs by loosening mucus.

"The mucus is a breeding ground for bacteria," Melton said. "It (the machine) helps keep mucus out of her lungs."

Getting congested is what could trigger an infection, which sometimes can be fatal. Two weeks ago, Hannah was sick.

"I felt like death," she said. "I didn't feel like getting up or moving or doing anything. I just wanted to sleep."

And she did. For six days.

And the teen is young enough to wish for anything, even life. But she's smart enough to know better. If she had one wish, it would be for CF awareness.

"I'd wish for everybody to understand about CF and what people with CF have to go through on a daily basis," she said.

Hannah plans to attend the College of Charleston. She wants to be a doctor who studies and works on lungs.

Maybe even find a cure for CF.

"Maybe," she said.

  Comments