WESTFIELD – Grace Mcintire is a good daughter.
The 11-year-old thought her summer would be spent on vacation with her family, including mom Melissa, dad Travis and brother Brayden, 9. But instead, Grace is helping her family through a difficult time by making and selling bracelets to raise funds for Melissa’s upcoming surgery that’s not covered by health insurance.
“I feel bad for her,” said Grace, “and for my dad who is working long hours every day in the heat with a bad back.”
Melissa, an interior decorator, and Travis, a contractor, are both self-employed and facing at least $10,000 in bills for Melissa’s surgery later this month that will hopefully relieve her of the pain in her head that began last fall.
Melissa had a filling removed and days later was in excruciating pain. At first, doctors thought she had mercury poisoning. Another diagnosis was migraines. Doctor after doctor could not pinpoint exactly what was causing the pain, which became worse over the winter and into spring. It’s become so bad that Melissa can no longer work, is exhausted and the only way she gets any sleep is by surrounding her head with ice packs to numb the pain.
Melissa credits her chiropractor Kevin Pighetti and physical therapist Laura DeBruin for helping her get some answers and some help.
“Kevin Pighetti has been a lifesaver,” Melissa said. “He pointed me to Dr. Mark at New England Dental Wellness in Greenfield.”
Pighetti also educated Melissa on toxins and the effects they have on your body, including mercury and other toxins and bacteria that can create what appears to be the cause of Melissa’s pain – cavitations.
Cavitations, or osteomyelitis, is a hole in a bone created by bacteria following an extraction such as removal of wisdom teeth or root canal. Melissa is taking supplements to detoxify her body, which she said could take a year even after the surgery.
“The surgery is holistic,” she said. “Insurance doesn’t cover it.”
Friends have reached out, but the Mcintires have a tough time accepting help.
“Our plan was for Travis to take on more work, but when Grace wanted to do this, I couldn’t say no to her,” she said.
In addition to her own pain, Melissa said the worst part about her condition is not being able to be the mom she wants to be for her children.
“I have ‘Mom Guilt’,” she said. “I can’t do anything because I’m in so much pain. That’s the hardest part – they see me miserable.”
When Grace approached Melissa about selling the bracelets – Gracelets, as she calls them – she teared up that her daughter wanted to help.
“I’m so proud of her,” said Melissa. “When I saw how much she wanted to do this, I just had to support her. She is so thoughtful and kind and what more could you want as a mom?”
The Mcintires have been overwhelmed by support from family and friends. Just two days after creating a Gracelets Facebook page, Grace had raised more than $3,500.
“She originally set a goal of $600, then $1,500, then she decided she wanted to fund the whole thing,” said Melissa. “We’ve made it into a family affair.”
Melissa helps Grace with the bracelets that she makes on her rubber band loom with beads, and Brayden helps track the money. Grace wrote about her motivation on the Gracelets page.
“My mom is very sick and is not her normal self right now, and she gets really upset that she cannot do the fun things she does in life with her family,” she wrote, adding “Prayers, positive vibes are welcome.”
Gracelets are $5 each and come in a variety of colors. Each bracelet style has a name created by Grace that was inspired by her family. For instance, there’s the “Bubs” bracelet named for Brayden’s nickname, Bubba. The “Mac Daddy” bracelet features red, yellow, green and black beads as a nod to Travis’ love of reggae music. The green “Fresh” bracelet is Grace’s way of hoping for a fresh start for her mom.
Orders for Gracelets can be placed at https://www.facebook.com/donate/606954113128297/2441516295908546/. Donations can also be made via Venmo.