By Ginna Parsons
Shelle Castles Melton died Sept. 2 from breast cancer. She was 42 years old.
She was a mother.
She was a writer.
She was a fighter.
“She was the best friend anyone could have,” said her husband, Scott. “If she was your friend, that was it. No back-stabbing. No back-biting. If you screwed up, she was going to let you know. There was no question of where she stood on anything. Stupidity really ticked her off.”
Shelle and Scott were married for 10 years. They met online, although they had mutual friends. They shared two sons from previous marriages, Chandler and Dakota, and had one daughter together, Zoe, who is 7.
That’s who Scott focuses on today.
“Shelle died, but life doesn’t stop,” said Scott, who works for the National Guard. “The mailbox still fills up with bills, the grass still grows, the kids still need to be fed. I’ve got to go on with life. My children have to have a home. You can’t let someone else’s death make you die.”
In fact, Shelle was all about life.
“In our house, we had this mindset of ‘You’re still alive – it’s not over yet.’ We kept the children informed. Zoe knew Mama was sick. We didn’t want it to be a secret. We feel like we empowered the kids. We told them, ‘Mom may not always be here, but she’s always here.’” Scott said, pointing to his heart.
Shelle, a copy writer for Memphis-based Smith & Nephew, was diagnosed with Stage 1 intraductal carcinoma in September 2010. She had a lumpectomy in Southaven, where the family was living at the time. The next month, they moved to Tupelo and Shelle started chemotherapy treatment at The Jones Clinic in New Albany.
“By May 2011, she was in remission,” Scott said. “They didn’t find any traces or vestiges at that point.”
In 2012, Shelle began suffering chest pains, but it would take some time for Scott to convince her to see a doctor.
“One of her favorite Shelle-isms was, ‘Suck it up, buttercup,” he said. “I just about had to beat her to get her to go to the doctor.”
A biopsy determined she had cancer in her lungs and her chest wall.
She started chemotherapy again.
“We’d get reports – no change – or an area would regress. Then another area would pop up – the spleen, the liver,” he said.
Shelle was headed for a chemo treatment on the last Thursday in August of this year when she took a turn for the worse and ended up in CCU. On Saturday, the doctor told Scott that Shelle was becoming septic.
“We moved her into a room,” Scott said. “She could communicate with signals. She was fighting all the way through. Sunday afternoon she started going downhill.”
On Monday, she was gone.
“The whole time she was sick, we had people over every weekend or we’d have a cookout. She wanted to clean some things off her bucket list,” Scott said. “We didn’t have to wait for her to be dying to live.”
Scott shared that he had a nickname for his wife.
“I called her Grace because she absolutely had none,” he said. “She was making the bed, tripped over the comforter and broke her toe. In Walmart, she bent down, raised up and hit her head on a fire extinguisher and was out cold.”
The laughter comes as easily as the tears.
“I miss her,” Scott said. “But I’m relieved, too. After three years of going through this with her, she has no more pain. We grieved throughout the process. But we didn’t stop living.”