We meet so many wonderful customers who become friends. I often say that because we are always at the restaurant; our customers become our friends and many are like family because we spend more time with them than we do our own families.
Melinda has been a fixture at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli and Bakery since we opened the doors in September of 2012. Her bright and cheerful disposition drew people to her. Many of you will recognize her, she was in several times a week to get her favorite dishes, usually a Reuben or our Spaghetti and Meatballs, but she loved just about everything we made. We got to know her friends too. Sue was often a fixture accompanying Melinda to “her place”. We knew her wonderful family, husband Mike and her children Hannah and Joel. Mike has given me permission to share Melinda’s story and write a tribute to her…he said, “she would love it”.
Melinda’s life was action packed. She was an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist and taught Yoga at Body Balance and the Yoga Center of Columbia. She was a former instructor at Loyola College of MD and Golden Heart Yoga. She had her Master of Science in Yoga Therapy and Master of Science in Nutrition and Integrative Health from Maryland University of Integrative Health. In addition she had her master of Arts in Spanish form Middlebury College Spanish School in Madrid and Secondary and Elementary education in Spanish from Towson University.
Melinda had been diagnosed with Crohn’s/Colitis but was still struggling with GI issues and often expressed her frustration that her GI was not listening to her. She believed she had Celiac too, but was not tested for it. Melinda was having many issues and was really trying to manage her diet to help manage her symptoms. She always said, “something is not right”. Finally, she had enough and went to see another doctor who listened to her and ran the right tests. I did not see her for a few weeks, so I knew something was up. She came in to see me and shared the news with me.
The diagnosis was Stage 4 Colon Cancer. She went through several rounds of chemo and always had such a positive attitude. The last few months were very difficult for her. She was not able to eat and was getting very dehydrated. When she was released from the hospital Mike would bring her here to eat. She would always order her Reuben and we would be so happy to see her eat just one bite. I would ask her what she could taste and she would say she could taste some chocolate and I would send her home with a few treats.
On the way out we would hug and cry and she would say that she was so scared. All I could do is hold her and tell her that I was praying for her and that I loved her so much and that I wished I could make it all go away. This scenario was repeated several times. After she left I would walk back into my office and cry and let out a lot of anger.
I never shared this with Melinda, because I wanted her to remain positive. I felt like I was reliving what happened to my best friend Carole; who had the exact same thing happen to her when she was only 33. Her doctor blamed it all on postpartum issues after the birth of her second child. It was colon cancer. We buried her at 35 leaving a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I was angry at the doctors who were not listening to their patients. I was angry because this was so preventable! Why don’t some doctors listen to the patient and run some tests instead of assuming their symptoms are in their heads?
For all of you reading this, I know this is what Melinda would say: “Please, if you do anything, take control of your health! If your doctor is not listening and invalidating you or your symptoms; please, please, please, find one who will listen and run the tests needed to make a proper diagnosis. It can save your life!” I know Melinda would never want to see anyone go through what she had to endure. Take control, see a new doctor and possibly save your life!
Melinda, you were a bright light in our lives and we are so thankful to have been a part of your life. I know I will see you again one day and I’ll be bringing the Reubens with me! I love you and am thankful for your friendship, your wisdom and for sharing so much of your life with us and so many others. Godspeed Melinda Siegel Frisch…..