Melanie Hatch, 24, opened an eternal gift on Christmas day after valiantly fighting her cancer with an amazing strength and unmatched dignity since she was only 5 months old. Truly home for Christmas, Melanie was surrounded by the love and prayers of her family that will never forget her courage and the fact that although cancer had broken her body, it never came close to breaking her spirit.
She was born Oct. 1, 1989, in DeKalb, the daughter of Steven and Loretta (Faber) Hatch. At only 5 months old, Melanie was diagnosed with cancer, and her prognosis gave her only another six months to live. Unbeknownst to the doctors, this was the opening Melanie was looking for to shock them by not only exceeding their expectations at every turn, but shattering them. Steven and Loretta searched for the right doctors and new treatments, and each time a door closed, a window opened for them to continue their fight.
Melanie grew up in Maple Park and attended local schools. She graduated in 2008 from Central High School in Burlington, Ill. While in school, Melanie was president of the Writer’s Club and editor of their literary magazine, even though she was legally blind her entire life.
Following graduation, she attended Waubonsee Community College, where she studied English and poetry. She continued the leadership she honed in high school and became editor and president of the Poetry Club, where she was instrumental in the publishing of a book of poems gathered from her fellow students, as well as some works of her own. Later she changed her major to massage therapy with the hopes that she could leave the cold winters of Illinois behind, making a living and name for herself in the warm sunshine of Florida
Melanie was an ambassador for Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, and was a literal poster child for Ride For Kids, founded by Mike and Dianne Traynor, when she was only 3 years old. As she grew, so did the organization, as she helped to develop, organize and expand Ride For Kids, which has now become the largest non-governmental non-profit organization for pediatric brain tumor research. Through her years of treatment, full of ups and downs, success and failures, Melanie never shied away from the spot light and became a role model to other children. Doctors worldwide studied her case and the path she trail-blazed for others to follow.
Melanie had a tremendous heart and a warrior spirit that belied her size. She had a love for everyone and everything, especially those of the four-legged variety. Melanie had a connection with animals of all sizes and kinds, but cats always had a special place in her heart.
While in college, Melanie performed her poetry at The House Cafe and Borders, and was a headliner at “Open Mic Night” at Westridge Community Church in Elgin, Ill.
Through all the years of her diagnoses and treatments, never did she express self-pity or ask “Why me?” Her bedrock of family and faith weathered all storms with the quiet strength of Gibraltar. Rock and roll was the music that spoke to her soul, starting with Elvis and extending through Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix to all the 1980s hard rock and glam-rock bands during her late high school years. College brought alternative bands, whose harder rhythms and darker themes became a balm and brought catharsis to her warrior spirit. No matter who was blasting from her speakers, the life and sparkle that emanated from her eyes and smile could power the city of Chicago with its electricity never faded. Her handshake was strong and firm, and the honest and natural connections she had with so many people radiated warmth and sincerity that forged unbreakable bonds with all who were lucky enough to know and love her.
She is survived by her loving and dedicated parents, Steve and Loretta Hatch; two devoted siblings, Ryan (Cheryl) Hatch and Larissa (Steve) Alcorn; one maternal grandmother, Pauline Faber; aunts and uncles, Char (Mike) Johnson, Guy (Diane) Faber, Sheila (Elwood) Lange, Pierre’ (Kathy) Hatch, Pam Van Den Bosch; seven cousins, Renee (Keith) Johnson, Renee Garcia, Autumn, Travis and Warren Lange, Carmella Hatch and Natalie Hatch; and thousands of people the world over who have come to love and respect Melanie not only for her valiant fight, but her determined spirit and a never-ending love for others.
She is preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Ansley and Catherine Hatch; her maternal grandfather, Lawrence “Tuffy” Faber; and two uncles, Warren Hatch and Lenny Faber.
Visitation was held on Monday at Westridge Community Church in Elgin. A funeral to celebrate her life and faith will also take place at the church, following a brief visitation from 10 to 10:45 a.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 31, at 11 a.m. Rev. Darren Sloniger, founding pastor of the church, will officiate with private family interment to follow cremation at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit Melanie’s favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Melanie Hatch Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com, where you can also see her amazing full-life story.