Local group surprises mother of four with cancer with computer

Local group surprises mother of four with cancer with long-awaited computer

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Melinda and her daughter Alexia check out the new computer. Melinda and her daughter Alexia check out the new computer.
"I will be here to raise my children," Melinda Smith said. "I will be here to raise my children," Melinda Smith said.
"She's our rock. She's the strong one. She says we are, but she really is," said Melinda's sister, Sherry Plemons. "She's our rock. She's the strong one. She says we are, but she really is," said Melinda's sister, Sherry Plemons.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Melinda Smith got a surprise Tuesday when she came to the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute for a new round of chemotherapy as she battles Stage 4 breast cancer.

But as it turns out, what also awaited her was a nice surprise in the form of a refurbished computer.

It's something the 42-year-old single mom of four has been promising her kids.

"I kept telling them I'll try and try and we'll get you one," she said.

Melinda has been holding on to hope for a lot of things since her diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer in 2006.

The disease has now spread throughout her body, but she isn't giving up.

"I will be here to raise my children," she said.

So far, she's beating the odds.

Her oldest son, Jimmy, is now 19 and going into the Navy soon. Next is 17-year-old Timothy, 13-year-old Alexia, and the baby, 10-year-old Stephanie.

Three children still at home need a computer for school work and on occasion, just for fun.

"I've been wanting a computer and so has my other brothers and little sister. I guess I'm the one who wants it most," said Alexia.

"If it wasn't for the support of the community and my family especially, I would not have made it," Melinda said.

Thanks to an organization called Knoxville's American Association for Cancer Support (AACS), Melinda not only took home a computer, but also a pre-paid cancer care card to help with medical co-pays and even gas for her car.

There was also a box full of items for her and her family including a stylish blazer, fittingly enough in UT orange.

AACS contacts cancer centers like UT Cancer Institute to match patients with items that have been donated.

UT nurses knew about Melinda's wish for a computer to replace an old one that finally wore out and let AACS know.

Jula Connatser is a driving force behind the organization.

"I know I come from a family that, you know, we have cancer patient in the family before and we know how little things help," she said.

Melinda's mother and sister were overwhelmed, but not surprised. They hoped everyone could get a glimpse of how special and strong Melinda is in spite of her illness.

"She's our rock. She's the strong one. She says we are, but she really is," said Melinda's sister, Sherry Plemons.

"I can't do a lot of things I used to, but I'm here," Melinda said.

If you'd like to donate new clothing, toiletries, DVDs, or other items, visit the American Association for Cancer Support website.

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