Melissa’s Race to Battle Brain Cancer


Melissa’s Race to battle brain cancer, started back in 2013, but not as certified chip-timed 5K. Melissa Vosburg, a bright, happy 35-year-old teacher and local resident of Sanford excelled at 100% in all she did as a daughter, sister, mentor and friend. Her passion for her family and her students was evident from the moment she entered the room. Her determination for making a difference in and beyond the classroom was not always an easy task, but one she openly accepted.

In the fall of 2012, Melissa began experiencing what she and her family assumed were migraine headaches. "Migraines run in the family," Melissa's brother, Matt, says. "Several of us have them, but Melissa's seemed to be increasing in frequency and severity and by Christmas week, it was clearly an issue." Based on symptoms and family history, even her family physician believed she was suffering from a severe migraine, but scheduled a CT scan just to be sure. The scan revealed swelling in her brain. A surgical biopsy was immediately ordered. "December 28, 2012 is the day we all lost our innocence," says Melissa's mother, Sue. "Melissa was always vibrant, happy and full of life. We were in shock."

Melissa was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, The most common—and most aggressive—type of brain cancer. The weeks that followed were full of treatments, consults, a surgery to partially remove the tumors and more treatments.

Through it all, Melissa maintained her spirit and unbelievable courage. Her common saying was 'it is what it is,' he says. She couldn't wait to start fighting back.

Melissa's father, Jeff, marvels that, through all the chaos surrounding her diagnosis, she was the one in the family that remained strong. "Through it all, Melissa maintained her spirit and an unbelievable courage. Her common saying was 'It is what it is,'" he says. "She couldn’t wait to start fighting back."

The family sought desperately for a clinical trial in which Melissa might receive the latest drug therapies for brain cancer, but the few trials being conducted at that time did not allow newly diagnosed patients to enroll. The Vosburgs were stunned at the lack of resources available for brain cancer patients considering its prevalence. When Melissa heard that brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths of adults under 40 and children under 19 but receives the least funding of any cancer, she asked why, noting the amount of funding raised for breast cancer research and trials. "We discussed how Susan G. Komen’s legacy had lead to remarkable marketing and how the pink ribbon had become a global icon," Jeff says. "Melissa said 'Then I will become the Susan G. Komen of brain cancer.'”

Her goal of becoming Susan G Komen is what spurred the idea of Melissa’s Race 5K. This year, Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida, marks the Fourth Annual Melissa’s Race to Battle Brain Cancer. (Registration for this event is still available, HERE.)

Melissa brought this strong spirit to the forefront as she began standard chemotherapy. The family sat together planning a cruise to celebrate the completion of her six weeks of radiation treatment. In the hospital, she was her old self, laughing with her family. But, in less than a week, Melissa passed.

From diagnosis to death, Melissa’s journey was only 50 days. Her family remains dedicated to celebrating Melissa's life-well-lived, and are doing all they can to raise awareness and funding for research for cancers of the brain, hosting Melissa's Race to Battle Brain Cancer each year in Sanford, FL. They continue to be inspired by Melissa's positive energy and outlook in life. "She never said 'why me' or showed any self-pity," says her sister Stephanie. "She wanted to help others learn about brain cancer and figure out how to beat it. Melissa was, and is, a hero."

The fundraising event is much more than another 5K, it’s in honor of Melissa Vosburg and her inspirational spirit. This 5K empowers Melissa’s goal of becoming Susan G Komen and directly supports brain cancer research and awareness at AdventHealth Cancer Institute. The certified chip-timed 5K run and walk, located at Fort Mellon Park on the scenic shore of Lake Monroe in Sanford is family friendly and open to all community members.

You can still register for this event in memory of Melissa Vosburg. Join us for Melissa’s Race on May 18, 2019 by registering, HERE.

To learn more about the Melissa Vosburg Foundation, visit

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