By Mary Drier
UNIONVILLE — Melinda “Colling” Sutherland is fighting for her life. She is fighting her second round of cancer with music.
In 1995, at the age of 37, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Her prognosis was fairly good; however, after eight years of remission, she was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer, unrelated to her breast cancer.
“It has always been her dream as a concert pianist to record her own album,” said Sutherland’s sister-in-law Pam Sutherland – Karpovich. “She’s not letting a major illness like ovarian cancer stop her from living life and living it to the fullest.”
Melinda Sutherland’s dream became a reality this month when she released her first CD, “Peace In The Battle – Inspirational Music From A Cancer Survivor.” She compiled and performed on the CD 14 instrumental songs that have carried her through her battle with cancer.
Through the CD, she tells her poignant story with honesty, courage, and with a positive perspective on the future.
“It reflects her faith in God and how each day He has given her this gift,” said Sutherland – Karpovich.
She fights with grace and courage, and with music.
“I have a persistent opponent, but I am doing well despite it,” said Sutherland. “I try not to let the cancer define who I am or what I can do.
“I can’t deny that cancer has its negative impacts on me but I try to keep it in perspective… that there are greater things in life to dwell on and experience.”
She hopes that the music will bring inspiration, awareness, and solace to all listeners, no matter what their battle may be.
Sutherland has wrestled with cancer more times than most people, and with more than one type. After extensive surgery to remove the cancer and ten more rounds of chemotherapy, she recovered and regained her strength.
Her will to live, overcome, and fight back is strong. When, she heard about a clinical trial for a vaccine for ovarian cancer at Bethesda Naval Hospital in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, she enrolled to participate in the two-year trial.
The vaccine was made from her own cancer tumor and injected into her body to build immunity to her cancer, explained Sutherland – Karpovich.
According to Sutherland, the experience was a positive one that allowed her to be proactive against her disease as well as advance research in the field of ovarian cancer.
“She enjoyed a five year remission after the initial treatment but has been battling several recurrences in the last three years,” said her sister-in-law.
Sutherland’s family has watched her battle cancer time after time over the years, and they knew of her desire to professionally record a CD of her piano music. Two years ago they proposed the idea of making an album of her music with the intent of raising money for ovarian cancer research as well as showcasing her talent and making her dream a reality.
Sutherland’s personal story can be read and her CD “Peace In the Battle” bought at the Web site www.peaceinthebattle.com or at www.crystalroserecords.com. A portion of all CD sales will go to ovarian cancer research.
Her dream CD was made possible through the generosity of her parents, Richard and Esther Colling, her sister Producer Rebecca Lazarus, and Co-Producer Brian A. Spears, President of Crystal Rose Records a Detroit-based record company.
Sutherland worked diligently to prepare music for the CD, even while battling several recurrences of her disease and many rounds of chemotherapy.
Through the making of “Peace In The Battle,” she hopes to bring a mainstream awareness to this disease, which is called the “silent” killer, because often there are no symptoms until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
Less than 50 percent of women survive longer than five years after diagnosis. Only 20 percent of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region. Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women.
Sutherland hopes for the day when a cure will be found for this deadly disease.
Pam Sutherland – Karpovich contributed to this report.