Sophomore raises money for mother’s journey back home

Her room has posters from popular movies tacked to the wall. Papers and books are balanced on her desk. Over her door hangs a single crucifix along with one picture of the Virgin Mary and another of Jesus. All these things and more fill her room, but the eye is drawn to a stock photo portrait of a mother and daughter standing side by side with arms looped over each other’s shoulders. Beneath the photo reads, “Mother and Daughter … Truest sisters of the heart.”

Melinda Szabo is a sophomore at St. Edward’s University. Her mother, Elisabeth Szabo, is currently enduring her second time being diagnosed with breast cancer.

During Melinda’s 7th grade year in 2005 her mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer. By late 2006 her mother was cancer free, but in her senior year of high school, 2011, her mother was again diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. This September her mother stopped chemotherapy because it had ceased having an effect on the tumors.

Her mother’s wish is to return home in case her condition continues declining. With one teenager in college and two teenagers in high school, Melinda’s parents, who were both nurses until her mother had to stop work in 2011, do not have money to spare for a ticket to Hungary.

In an emotional phone interview with Elisabeth, she explained through a thick Hungarian accent why she wanted to visit her home country.

“I want to see my momma,” Elisabeth said.

In an effort to grant her mother’s wishes, Melinda has created an account on the GoFundMe website entitled “Get Mommy Home.” Melinda is hoping to raise $2,500 for a ticket for herself and her mother to return to her mother’s home country, Hungary. As of Oct. 28 she has raised $1,922 thanks to the donations of 55 generous people.

Elisabeth did not come to the United States until 1991. She was visiting her sister in New York when her friend went to visit someone in California. Elisabeth ended up living in California working as a nanny where she met her future husband, Laszlo Szabo, who had immigrated to the United States from Hungary.

The cause of the breast cancer that ails Elisabeth is not definitive, but she as well as many scientists speculate that because she was in Hungary during the Chernobyl incident, the toxic radiation may be to blame. The incident occurred in April 1986 when the reactor melted down and caused radioactivity to spread all over Europe.

Since her initial diagnosis, Elisabeth has undergone a double mastectomy and had her lymph nodes removed from under her left arm. Survival rates based on five-year overall survival statistic place individuals with Stage IV Breast Cancer with just a 15 percent chance of survival, according to American Cancer Society and National Cancer Data Base materials. Just last year, Elisabeth’s 46-year-old sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

Melinda explained that her mother has begun to grow tired from her nearly constant battle against cancer. Melinda also talked about what she wanted for her mother.

“What I want for her [is]… peace… to not have inner turmoil with any decisions she makes or what will happen with my brothers and I and my father… to know that we’ll be taken care of,” Melinda said.