Shieterrick Melton on staying positive despite life-threatening challenges
Shieterrick Melton suffers from rare conditions called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS): debilitating autoimmune disorders that began to afflict Shieterrick two years ago. Here is her story, a story where she continually finds light in darkness.
So you’re a native?!
I was born and raised right here in Charlotte, in fact right down-, excuse me I mean uptown-, Charlotte up until I finished high school. Now I live in South Charlotte, in Ballantyne. I guess the question for me is will I ever move… and I'm not sure just yet. It would depend on a few things, including my health.
What was your upbringing like?
My upbringing… well, I was raised by my grandparents and my mom, since she was pretty young when she had me.
What do you love about Charlotte?
I LOVE there is always something to do. The beaches aren’t too far away, and you are always close to home.
Any advice to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self: YOU MATTER, YOUR VOICE MEANS SOMETHING. I would also tell her to remember you are not a doormat, to never allow someone to run all over you.
A lot of people should hold onto that advice, especially our youth today. Any advice for our youth today?
I would honestly probably say the same thing. I think the youth today don’t have enough positive and motivational influences. If I can make a positive impact on today’s future, even if it's just one person, I have done my job.
Thinking about who you are today, who would you like to thank for being a positive influence and role model?
This is such a hard question! So many people, I guess let me start with those who are closest to me. My grandmother. This woman helped raise me to the woman I am today—instilling values and lessons in me that I have found to be important and far more influential than trying to think about the impact “friends” made on me.
I would then say children. Children today teach us so much. Particularly the ill community of children. I have seen firsthand a child fight for a second chance at life—just seeing their sheer will to thrive.
Another person I would say has to be Dr. Maya Angelou. From her beautiful ability to put love onto a sheet of paper, to her involvement in civil rights, and ensuring everyone had a voice and were made to feel like they are important. As we all are.
Friends and their personal experiences throughout life. I love witnessing their tenacity and growth towards every milestone. Jokingly, I always tell them, “When I grow up I want to be like you.”
How did you spend your time as a child?
Up until I was about 10 years old, I did a lot of reading. I loved to read. Not children’s books but biology and medical books. My family all works in healthcare, and I was always surrounded by a medical journal or book, and I loved every second of it. I mean I played with kids my age… kinda. They were mostly “big kids” but looking back they were probably teens that just loved that I was able to adapt, and not make them “not look cool.”
How is your life different now than you imagined when you were younger?
My life is so different than I ever imagined it to be. I had a dream when I was little that I would be married by now with three children and I would be working in my dream job, or at least almost. But I guess more importantly, would I have changed anything that has happened to me from what I thought my life would be like today? Nope. Without change and things going on, I truly wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t have the strength that I have now—at times, it feels like I have to move mountains to be able to achieve.
Are you religious or spiritual?
I am a religious and spiritual, but more spiritual than I would say religious. I believe with everything in me, a faith and belief in God. That he sent his son to die for me and my sins. On a daily basis, I tend to focus on how the impact I make today can be a positive and pleasing.
What teacher or adult had an impact on you in your life?
I have had so many teachers make an impact on my life…
Robert Carrington- who believed in me and pushed me when it came to music, and saw something me that I never saw in myself. And he believed in me. He constantly motivated me to do more and push myself, teaching me to play multiple instruments. Today, I still love music just as much and it speaks to me in a different way that most would say music speaks.
Brian Cartiff- who when I struggled to concentrate after a life-threatening car accident told me my situation does not define me. Only I am able to write the story of my own book and when I don’t like what is going on, I can delete, restart, stop and refocus on what I need and want in my life. Cartiff, as I would also say to the good teachers, was someone who would stop what he was doing just to make sure I was okay. School sometimes seem a lot harder than what it really was, and he advocated for and when I needed a good kick in the ass to get me back into focus.
Susan Harper- I recently saw her not too long ago. Her husband had just passed; God rest his soul. She was a hard teacher but didn’t push you to the point of no return… just almost there. Ironically she was also my mother’s teacher in school. So she knew who I was even before I started school. I was just knee high to a grasshopper. Harper, knew I loved everything about biology, so she was a bit harder on me than most. For me that was good because it pushed me to know I can and do anything I worked at.
Why are you called a professional sponge?
I worked in healthcare for about 13 years. And I also worked in lots of others fields, I’m what some of my friends like to call me as a professional sponge. I can do anything and soak up the knowledge of doing something even if I have never worked in the area, and succeed in it in no time.
If you could jump into any career, what would it be?
I have always wanted to be a pediatric cardiovascular thoracic heart surgeon. Now say that five times fast. I still have this dream, though my health and some other things have become, as I say, stumbling blocks in my way right now.
How do you work with these health ailments? What’s your income like now?
Well, I am not able to work right now due to my health so that would be a goose egg… if you have suggestions on how I can work from home around my schedule and being in the hospital… I am all ears.
Here are photos of me showing the progression of an allergic reaction.
Please share your perspective on community:
I am not currently apart of any organizations, its saddens me a bit as I loved working in the community and being involved with people of the community. I have a saying I try very hard to be like: to be in the community and not just of it. It is so important to me that I educate and inform people about mast cell and how healthcare providers need to be more mindful and compassionate with care as a whole.
I am most passionate about helping others and giving back. I think it's so important to teach and reach others no matter their age; we all can learn so much from one another.
Who would you like to give a shoutout to?
Gabrielle Blum! I have been going through some things and she has been been there for me through, as people like to say, the muck.
What are the keys to a strong relationship?
Trust, laughter, love, and communication.
Can you share one of your happiest memories?
One of the happiest memories has been spending summer days with my grandparents as a child—sitting on the porch and talking about their childhoods and playing games. I still enjoy spending time with my grandmother.
Something you’re proud of?
One of my proudest moments is living on my own since the age of 16 and having to truly understand life fast.
What’s your legacy?
I would like to be remembered as someone who cared and gave more than she had to take. Someone who provided and spoke up, and mentored others as they needed.
I am single… ha and ready to mingle… kidding, kinda. So, I am a family of two. Me and my old lady fur baby; a cockapoo that I've had since she was nine months old.
You have to be your own advocate in every aspect of your life. No matter what. Nobody will speak up or share life with you the same way you do.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Some people would surprised to know my middle names (yes, that’s plural) are just as long as my first name. I use every letter of the alphabet except six letters!
What are you most grateful for?
My faith and my struggles. Without these things, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, nor would I be able to grow and learn from the things I have been through.
Not even one. Without mistakes how do we grow?
Any bad habits?
Lets see… I don’t think so, but I have a thing for stationary. I’ll go to target, and like a dog that sees a squirrel…. notebooks, pens paper...! Oh wait what was I in here for?
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