Melanija Mešić is 23 years old and is a student at the University of Split, Faculty of Economics. After three years of undergraduate study she was forced to take time off from study when suddenly a year and a half ago she was diagnosed with leukemia.
“It was June 13, 2017, on the St. Anthony’s Feast Day. Several days ago I read an article on the appearance of the acute myeloid leukemia in Split and I just wondered what it would have been if I had had cancer. A couple of days later, I was diagnosed with exactly that illness,” Melanija told us at the beginning of the interview and recalled how her parents had been devastated with the news. “Mom was all swollen from crying, and Dad was holding up okay in my presence. He organized my transfer from Split to Zagreb and treatment at the University Hospital Centre Zagreb, but my sister told me that he was crying and mourning all the time when not in my presence.“
She knew very little about her illness only that it was a blood cancer and that chemotherapy was a process of treatment. After arriving in Zagreb, her doctor explained everything to her and pointed out that 50 percent of the successful medical treatment results depend on the medical profession, and 50 percent on herself. A positive attitude is an important part of success. “All right, I’ll get rid of it,” Melanija said to herself.
Throughout the period, her family was most important to her. “My brother was a donor in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. He is my blood and part of me for the rest of my life. My parents were my connection with the outside world because I practically spent time in isolation in a room where I stayed on several occasions for a month and a half. They were very worried. Because of this stress, my father got sick and is soon going to the heart surgery. “
Children suffering from malignant diseases motivated Melanija to persist with her treatment. Their strength and joie de vivre are very admirable and then she began to believe in healing. Her outlook on life has changed from the roots. “I’ve always been under the pressure that I have imposed on myself or that has been imposed by the environment. For example, I remember the pressure in high school that we have to pass the graduation exam with an A-level in order to enter the best university possible. However, I often remember the day when my professor of entrepreneurship came to me at the graduation ceremony. She hold my hands and told me that I did not have to enter the college, that I should not set it up as a condition, because someone with potential would make something out of their life regardless of college. Then I did not fully understand her and I thought she was suspicious of my abilities but today I know she was right. Back then I used to tell myself that I should graduate in due time, that everything I did had to be perfect and completed in a self-inflicted deadline, and now … I do not plan anything anymore. I have no long-term goals, but concentrate my strength on what I am currently doing. I’m taking the driving lessons and preparing myself for the final driving exam, and in April I go to Sarajevo with my troupe to a dance competition. I’ve always liked dancing and I identify myself with hip-hop. I would like to continue studying in the autumn and that’s roughly my list of plans and wishes.”
Since the subject of 9th issue of the magazine Phralipen is related to fashion and clothing, we asked Melanija whether she was familiar with the traditional Rromani clothing and her generation’s taste in clothes.
“From my fourth year to high school, I danced in the Rromani Soul Folklore Society managed by my uncle. I first performed wearing the skirts that I pulled out of my mother’s closet. I remember how special I felt when I wore salwar for the first time and my grandmother helped me. My wardrobe today is very colourful and I dress according to my mood. I like makeup so I became a real master in makeup art and my friends often ask me to do their makeup for some special occasions. As far as hair is concerned, chemotherapy has helped me to understand that I’m beautiful with short hair as well, and I used to wear different wigs and turbans which I still have today.“
Melanija Mešić, staying and talking to us in our editorial office brought a special kind of life energy. The love with which she talks about her family and the joy she talks about her friends reminds us of the importance of family and friendships in everyone’s life. At the end of our interview, we asked her to suggest the title of this short story, a storiette from her life, and she said, “You should live one day at a time.” It came out of her heart so let this knowledge stay as long as possible in all of us and you, dear readers.