200 recall Melissa at emotional funeral

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The Toronto Star

19 October 1989

No more needles, no more pain, no more false hopes.

“Missy is at home, is at rest, is at peace,” Father Gary Hoskins told more than 200 people gathered at Brampton’s St. Anne’s Church yesterday for Melissa Duval’s funeral.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, the 5-year-old died quietly at her Brampton home Sunday night.

“Missy won the hearts of many of us,” Hoskins said. “This little girl was a gift from God. We have all been lifted by her courage, strength and her endurance during the many months and years of her illness.”

Clutching pink carnations, eight children, led by Missy’s older brother Josh, 7, followed the little pink coffin into the church.

Later, at Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton, each of the children laid a flower on top of the coffin.

“She touched our hearts,” one bystander said.

When she was 2, Melissa was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer spread in the nervous system. Since then, it’s been an emotional and expensive roller coaster ride for the family.

At first the disease was misdiagnosed by a family doctor. Then, desperate for a cure, Melissa and her parents made two trips to Greece for controversial treatment. Twice, they believed the cancer was gone. Two more times, it came back.

“It’s been very rough. It’s been so long,” said Annette Duval, one of Missy’s aunts. “She never complained. She wouldn’t cry in front of her parents because she didn’t want to upset them.”

Missy’s mother, Kathy, was led into the church by her mother and father. She turned her back when the coffin was brought in. During the emotional church service, she sat with her head bowed.

Missy’s father, Moe, sat beside his distraught wife. She was unable to go to the cemetery.

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