From Teacher to Moyamoya Warrior

The story of Melissa

My name is Melissa and I reside in Cleveland, Ohio, with my amazing husband, Luke and our dog, Duke. I have always loved kids and I’ve known since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a teacher. After teaching in the public schools for 5 years, I transitioned to starting my own private tutoring business in June 2022.
What we didn’t know was that shortly after this transition, would come a life-changing diagnosis. On Christmas Eve 2022, what started as a small headache, very quickly escalated to what turned out to be a hemorrhagic stroke. Knowing something wasn’t right, my husband, Luke, rushed me to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where the incredible doctors placed an EVD to relieve the pressure from fluid in my brain and diagnosed me with Moyamoya Disease. This alone is miraculous because the Moyamoya is not a well known disease, even by physicians. Many people go through several diagnoses and treatments before doctors are able to pinpoint that they actually have Moyamoya. We slowly learned more about this rare disease during my 2-week stay in Metro’s Neurocritical Care Unit.
Despite the challenges, Luke and I, engaged to be married on February 4, 2023 in Marion, Ohio, instead embraced a beautiful backyard wedding surrounded by our closest friends and family. We feel so blessed to have been married on our original wedding date between diagnosis and subsequent surgeries performed by Dr. Michael Lang at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. On February 21 and 23, I had 2 separate successful brain revascularization surgeries on each side of my brain.
Before my headache started on Christmas Eve, my now husband, and I were getting ready to head to our church for Christmas Eve service. We were getting there early since he was singing in the choir and I was playing piano with out church worship team. Through all of this, I had a fear that I would no longer be able to play piano, but thanks to my amazing doctors and neurosurgeon, that is no longer a concern. On Good Friday, 2023, I went back to playing on the worship team and even though there are some challenges, I am so grateful to be back to playing for almost a full year now!
My advice to Moyamoya and other rare disease patients would be to never count yourself out and seek support from other warriors and friends/family members! Always remember that God has a plan for your life, even though it may look different than you had originally thought.
My experience with Moyamoya has changed my life, but through all of the difficult times, I have seen the goodness of God in so many ways. I am forever grateful to the doctors and nurses at MetroHealth Medical Center who saved my life and to Dr. Michael Lang and his team at UPMC who did the same. Thanks to them I am able to continue living out the plans that God has for my life and for that, I am eternally grateful.