Canfield chooses joy | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Submitted Hilltop Elementary students enjoy their time in a new garden in the school’s outdoor classroom on Friday. The colorful garden is in memory of Melina Edenfield, 4, who died last year after a diagnosis of a brain tumor. Students in the neighborhood wore gray shirts in honor of her on Friday.

CANFIELD – A year ago today, the Edenfield family received the toughest news: Melina, 4, had a brain tumor.

Within 32 days, she died in the arms of her mother Michelle of brain stem cancer. She left behind parents Michelle and Keith, and sisters, Emilea and Kara.

Today the Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation is looking for a cure. Since its inception, the nonprofit has raised $ 220,000. Of that amount, $ 150,000 was donated to a fund at Akron Children’s Hospital for brain tumor research.

“One thing we learned, and we were shocked by, is how underfunded childhood cancers and brain tumors are,” said Keith. About 4 percent of all cancer research funding goes to childhood cancer, with 1 percent of that amount going to brain tumors, he added.

Friday was Gray Day in Canfield for Melina. The school district donned gray shirts with the words “Choose joy for Melina.”

Gray is the color for Brain Cancer Awareness Month, which is May.

Students participated in the creation of a memorial garden, which was unveiled and celebrated with the neighborhood on Friday. There are 600 firewheels, colorful rocks painted by students, and a steel plate donated in Melina’s honor.


Melina succeeded in everything she wanted to do.

When she was 2, Melina told Michelle she was going for a swim – without her armbands. “She did it,” said Michelle.

Keith remembers Melina’s “silly but also extremely thoughtful and empathetic” personality. “When asked, (Melina) would say her favorite color was green … and any color of the rainbow,” he said.

“Every day I say I will always fight to find joy,” just as Melina did, said Michelle.

Patients diagnosed with the tumor type of Melina usually live for 6 to 12 months. The only treatment is radiation with the hope of shrinking the tumor, Michelle said.

Melina’s team of doctors said her case was the most aggressive form they’d ever seen, Michelle said. Her family said she was in no pain, but her condition deteriorated rapidly during the short weeks of her illness.

The last week of Melina’s life, her family told her they wanted to start a foundation to help other children. Since she couldn’t speak, she squeezed “yes,” said Michelle.

An upcoming “Bike and Bounce” event featuring Pure Cycle and Mega Barre Youngstown will benefit the organization. Different lessons will take place from June 6 at 9:00 am. Visit to register or donate. There is a minimum donation of $ 20 to participate.

Donations to the Melina Edenfield Foundation can be made by visiting the nonprofit’s website,, or by sending checks to The Melina Michelle Edenfield Foundation, PO Box 34, Canfield, OH, 44406.


As the family and community accept Melina’s loss, they try to remember not to be sad, Michelle said – because that’s not what Melina would want.

Sisters Klara and Emilea are doing “great,” said Michelle.

“We still experience ups and downs from day to day or even moment to moment,” said Keith.

A factor in the success of the family is the support, ranging from family and friends to the community.

“We call our neighborhood ‘Melina’s Lifers,’ because Melina was in it for life,” said Michelle.

She had 10 best friends around, who all play together.

Keith, a director in Lisbon, has had the “wonderful” support of the community that gathered around him and the Edenfield family, Michelle said.

“They’re unreal down there. The response from the community has been phenomenal, ”she said.

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