Melissa Wiggins, a Scotland native currently residing in Orlando, Florida, is a proud mum of five and an advocate for change in pediatric cancer. She holds a law degree from the prestigious University of Edinburgh and worked as a commercial litigation lawyer in her nation’s capital prior to moving to Orlando in 2010, where she gained court experience and a background in advocacy.
When her firstborn son Cannon was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and she was about to give birth to twins, her full-time calling for 3.5 years became saving her son’s life. Melissa and her husband Michael founded Cannonball Kids’ cancer in 2015, a nonprofit pediatric cancer research foundation. Cannon, his cancer journey, survivorship and her family’s experience inspired her to write her first book “Thankful For the Fight” in which she shares her family’s heartbreaking and inspiring cancer battle.
In addition to advocate, lawyer, boss, and wife, Melissa proudly wears the hats of stepmum, biological mum, adoptive mum and most recently, grandmother – all by 36!
It is said that life’s hardest moments make us stronger. That is true for Melissa. As a result of advocating, fundraising and changing the world of pediatric cancer, Melissa has had the privilege of speaking on stages across the globe from keynoting at Glasgow Children’s Hospital, to the San Francisco Giants stadium, and the private home of ESPN megastar Dick Vitale.
While those stages are powerful platforms, indeed there has been nothing more transformative for Melissa than the stories of love and hope shared over cup of tea with another mother or family walking through their hardest times. Pediatric cancer is not fun. It is hard. It is unforgiving. It does not discriminate. It forces you to reckon with what you think you know about yourself. It challenges you in ways nothing else can. The battle isn’t always in treatments or diagnosis, it is your mental, emotional and spiritual strength. And even still, it is all too often not enough to win. While she did not know it, every hard thing she walked through, every devastated mother’s hand that she held as another precious baby was taken too early, every plane she boarded to travel across the country to speak for the voiceless… was giving birth to something even more powerful…
Mummabear is her moniker and it is also a metaphor. Life is hard but we can do hard things. Strength does not come from life being easy. Radical changes in the way we live our lives or practice medicine do not come from our silence. They come from finding our ROAR. Melissa knows that to live your truth, you must first find your voice. Her ROAR saved her son, changed her marriage and transformed her life. Today, she is passionate about sharing this message and this work with women around the world.