PLATTSBURGH - When life hands some people lemons, they make lemonade. When life handed Melanie Defayette cancer, she made the most of it.
The 44-year-old Cadyville woman was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, but rather than let her condition get her down, she decided to turn a negative into a positive.
Defayette's story began last November when she found something was awry before she traveled to the national soccer competition with the Clinton Community College Women's Soccer Team, for which she serves as assistant coach.
"It was two days before we left, actually," she said. "When we got back, I was officially diagnosed."
That's when reality began to set in, said Defayette. Though her prognosis was that the cancer was caught early enough to likely be defeated with rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, it was still difficult to share her news with friends, family and co-workers.
"When it came time to tell the people at work, it was so hard," said Defayette, who works at the Town of Plattsburgh Offices, serving as head of the recreation department. "It was shocking, upsetting ... I kept think that there had to be a better way to deal with this. I'm a recreation director for crying out loud. I wanted to figure out how we could make something fun out of this."
And, all it took was an off-the-cuff remark to deputy town clerk Meg Lefevre that the office should have a pool, betting on when Defayette would lose her hair.
"I thought how much more fun could it be than people betting on when I would lose my hair," said Defayette.
"When Mel told everyone [about her cancer], it was sort of an awkward situation and you can tell she didn't want to talk about it," said Lefevre. "I think the initial suggestion for the pool was a way to alleviate the awkwardness of it. It ended up being a really good idea."