The Schellhardt siblings take a break for a photo at the 2009 annual Our M.O.M., Inc. Walk / Run they hold to raise money for Siteman melanoma research in honor of their mom.
Eight Siblings Fight for a World without Melanoma
Patricia Schellhardt Malone was “super mom.” She prepared a family dinner every night for her husband and eight children. She steadfastly continued the tradition after her husband died unexpectedly in 1982 from an aneurysm. At that time her oldest child was 17 and her youngest was 2.
“I cannot imagine having eight children and suddenly becoming a single mom,” Patricia’s daughter Elizabeth says. “But we were always her top priority. She never wavered.”
Patricia set high expectations for her children, and resolutely helped them achieve them. All eight kept their grades up in high school—while playing sports and leading full social lives—and continued on to college.
“We always had fun together, too,” Patricia’s daughter Maria recalls. “Actually, we are still together all of the time at family events and helping each other through everything!”
Talking and Drinking Coffee at Our Mom’s House
In January of 2005, Patricia was diagnosed with melanoma. She and her children and husband Frank Malone (whom she married in 1993) researched and visited elite cancer centers around the country. She chose Gerald Linette, MD, at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, to provide her care.
“Dr. Linette gave us the most confidence in what our mom’s treatment would be and what her life would look like,” Elizabeth says.
Patricia looked forward to seeing Dr. Linette at her appointments and was grateful that she was able to receive great care in St. Louis because it kept her strong support system close.
“Each time we were in the Siteman waiting room before Mom’s appointments, we’d meet someone who had traveled a long way to get their care here,” Elizabeth says. “We felt grateful that we were where we needed to be and that it was only a 10-minute drive.”
Although Patricia was given six months to live in July 2005, she continued to lead a full life until the winter of 2007, when her cancer progressed and the intensity of her treatment increased. “We all lived at our mom’s house during her last six months, drinking coffee and talking,” Maria says. “Our step-dad would tease us and ask if we had jobs or families to get home to because we’d be there around the clock.”
Our M.O.M., Inc.
In memory of their mother, the Schellhardt siblings created a foundation called Our M.O.M. (Our Mark on Melanoma), Inc. to raise awareness about melanoma prevention and detection. They also began to raise money to support the fund they started at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation: the Our M.O.M., Inc. Melanoma Endowed Fund in Memory of Patricia Schellhardt Malone, which supports Dr. Linette’s research. In 2010, they pledged $50,000 to the fund.
“When our mom was fighting melanoma, she said that she didn’t want anyone else to go through what she was going through,” Maria says. “In honor of our mom’s battle and in hope that no one else will have to experience the same pain, we are dedicated to supporting Dr. Linette’s research.”
The Our M.O.M., Inc. board, comprised of all eight Schellhardt siblings, volunteers time to speak about their cause at local high schools, construction sites, companies and at the Our M.O.M., Inc. Day at Busch Stadium. Proceeds from the annual Our M.O.M., Inc. walk/run benefit their mother’s fund at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation. The walk is the backdrop to a fun day of food, music, and face painting, with a dermatologist on-site to answer questions.
“Some people stay all day, and we are happy to have more people each year,” Elizabeth says.
“No matter how big our walk gets, everyone will be fed and entertained because our mom always fed anyone who walked through her door—and no matter the event, there was always a party after,”Maria adds.
Support the Our M.O.M., Inc. Melanoma Endowed Fund in Memory of Patricia Schellhardt Malone (#3417) today!
Excerpted from Giving 2011, Issue 1