Having been diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, Melissa feels blessed to have been nominated for a bedroom makeover. Having a beautiful place to retreat to will provide much needed comfort and relaxation. Melissa was happy to share her story in the hopes it will help somebody else going through a similar challenge. She wants them to know they’re not alone.





My Happy Haven

My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge is a community-based non-profit organization, incorporated in the state of Iowa. We are comprised of volunteers dedicated to making a real difference in the life of a woman facing the fear and struggles of a cancer diagnosis. We do this by providing these women with a bedroom makeover, giving them an environment in which to rest peacefully and heal from the effects of cancer and its’ treatments.

We work closely with the woman so we can offer her a bedroom that reflects her personal needs and desires.

My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge is under the Fiscal Sponsorship of My Happy Place – Mason City Inc. for 501(c)3 tax deductible purposes.
My Happy Place – Mason City EIN: 46-2628458
My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge EIN: 85-2418314


Serving qualifying women in the Fort Dodge, IA 30 mi. radius area

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My name is Melissa Nelson. I am the daughter to Mike Nelson and Vicki Nelson – Thompson. I have
been with GreenState Credit Union, formally known as First American Bank, for 17 years. I have recently gone back to college part-time to get my accounting degree, taking a break during this process. I have a talented son Taeton, who is a senior in high school this year. I met my knight, Jaden Henry, over 6 years ago. Jaden works for Moeller Furnace. Our employers and coworkers have been so wonderful during this difficult time!

To be honest, I have been hesitant to making my diagnosis public. I was afraid to let my guard down, making myself vulnerable to the open support of others and having to face the fact that this is real. The support I received from those who did know, made me realize I could not do this alone. I prayed, asking God, “how do I open up and tell my story?” Out of nowhere, I received a call from My Happy Haven. Heather O’Brien who is my insurance agent, heard my story through my mom and nominated me for a My Happy Haven bedroom makeover. This was the answer to my prayers and how I make it public.

This journey began 2.5 years ago. I started having pelvic pain and went to my OB/GYN. We did some tests but nothing was showing up. I continued to have the pains and they started to get worse over time. I began having ultrasounds but they weren’t showing anything and that made my doctor concerned. Again, the pain and other symptoms were getting worse. At this point I thought I was going crazy: the PAPS were coming back fine, the ultrasounds normal…what was wrong with me? My doctor finally decided to do a dilatation and curettage to help with the bleeding that I was having on June 4, 2021. A few days later I receive a call from my doctor telling me that the pathology found cancer. I was told it was Uterine Cancer and the cure would be having a hysterectomy. How can this be? I have cancer! A hysterectomy, meaning no more children and straight into menopause…I’m only 39! Jaden and I had tried over the years to have a child. I have a son, which Jaden treats and loves as his own, but he has none of his own. I had miscarried 3 years ago shortly before I started the symptoms. It just was not working out for us. And now, it will never happen.

After hearing I had cancer, I had many emotions, one of which was that I wasn’t crazy after all! I made my appointment right away for Mayo in Rochester, MN for my hysterectomy. Surgery went well. A week after surgery, I received a phone call from Mayo. This time they found more cancer and realize it was not uterine cancer but advanced cervical cancer. They found that it started in my cervix, had gone into my uterus and into my lymph nodes. What went from needing just a hysterectomy now went to needing chemo, internal and external radiation, and all at the same time. I was scared and in shock! With the best support from friends and family and my faith, I know WE can get through this! I say WE because cancer does not only affect the person dealing with it. It affects everyone around them. I call my support my Posse. They never missed appointments or treatments, they called everyday and sent cards, made food, sent care packages. The love and many prayers were palpable and trust me, I felt every one of them! It brought back memories of my Grandma Thompson, who also had cervical cancer in her 30’s, and then breast and skin cancer in her older years. If she could get through it, I knew I could! And so, my journey begins.

After I healed from the hysterectomy, I started the treatments. I became sick and lost all energy. It was hard being home and feeling helpless, getting tired from the simplest tasks. Going to the treatment center Mon-Friday for many weeks can take a toll on a person. But I tried to stay positive… you have to in order to get through this! I had my “poor me” moments, but what kept me going was thinking that so many others were going through harder times and how blessed I truly was.

On September 29th I rang my last bell. I was finally done with treatments just a day before my 40th birthday! I know I still have a way to go in making a full recovery, but I am blessed to have made it this far! I have not yet heard I’m cancer free, but I have faith. Having cancer changes you and I will forever be changed.  I am honored to be a recipient of My Happy Haven. This community is fortunate to have such a great organization. I live in a story and half home and have 2 bathrooms one upstairs and in the basement none on the main floor. While going through treatment I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, for I needed to be close to the restroom, and going up and down the stairs became a little too much at times. To receive the call from MHH to say they want to give me a bedroom makeover, is a true blessing. This will provide me with a place to go to where I can relax and to be more comfortable in. A new beginning for Jaden and myself. I am also grateful I can share my story in the hopes that someone reads it who may be going through the same thing, and know they are not alone and not crazy. You know your body. Do not give up. Keep pushing! Know that it’s OK to let others know because the more prayers and support you have, the better! I know I would not have made it through this without my Posse and my faith.


Kari Swisher


Emily Stucky

Board Member/Vice President

Tara Koopman

Board Member/Secretary

Jen Crimmins

Board Member/Treasurer


Do you know a woman you would like to nominate for a bedroom makeover in our area? Please follow the link below and fill out the nomination form.


My Happy Haven Fort Dodge, IA greatly values your feedback. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have for us. If you would like to get in touch with us please fill out the form below and someone from our office will be in touch with you soon.  


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