CPD Sergeant Melinda Linas will be honored among “More than Pink Heroes” at Komen Chicago Mother’s Day Race for the Cure on May 14.
Susan G. Komen Chicago More than Pink Heroes
Sunday, May 14, Susan G. Komen Chicago will host its 20th annual Mother’s Day Race for the Cure. Actor Jon Seda of “Chicago Justice” and formerly of “Chicago PD” will be the celebrity guest of honor. He’s been recognized along with others who “have lost loved ones to breast cancer or faced the disease themselves, activists and volunteers, and caregivers who compassionately support patients through diagnosis and treatment”. Among the “More than Pink Heroes” is Chicago Police Department Sergeant Melinda Linas, 41. A mom to two young children, she’s currently battling breast cancer. She and other honorees are excited to team up with Jon Seda to raise awareness and funds to help Komen Chicago to over the next 10 years, reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50%.
Meet Melinda Linas
Call her Mom, Sergeant, PhilHellene, or Greek-by-marriage, Melinda Linas, is a fighter. Her Greek family is helping the former Army lieutenant wage a valiant battle against breast cancer.
Born and raised in suburban Park Ridge, Melinda married into a Greek family. Her husband Nick traces his Greek roots to villages in the Grammos mountains, the town of Slimnitsa (now known as Trilofos) in Macedonia. Her husband’s family came to the U.S. in the 1950s and settled in Michigan.
After graduation from Marquette University in 1997, she enlisted in the Army National Guard. Melinda attended basic training and then Officer Candidate School, which led to her commission as a Military Intelligence Officer. She left active duty to join the Chicago Police Department in 1999.
“My father was a police officer, and I always admired him and his partners. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and help those in need.”
Her first assignment brought her to Chicago’s Greektown.
“I started in the 12th District, which encompasses Greektown. I was immediately introduced to the Greek hospitality of the local business owners. And I was also introduced to delicious Greek frappes!”
Later she worked on the West side (Kedzie/Harrison) and then in Wrigleyville. She was promoted to sergeant in 2008, and is currently working at police headquarters. Passionate about justice, she attended John Marshall Law School, and graduated in 2008.
Her husband, Nick, is also an attorney. They were married at St. Nicholas Church in Ann Arbor MI. On May 15, they’ll celebrate their 11th anniversary, The couple has two daughters, Alexandra, 7, and Nicole, 4. Both proudly attend Greek school — Alexandra on Saturdays at St Haralambos’ Aristotle Greek School; and Nicole at Agape Preschool at SS Peter & Paul.
Breast cancer strikes
The Nick and Melinda were planning their first family trip to Greece when a routine mammogram in November 2016 showed calcifications in Melinda’s right breast.
“The doctors said it was nothing. I could either let them be and re-check in 6 months, or endure a painful needle biopsy. Because my best friend was recently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, I opted for the biopsy.”
Initially diagnosed with stage 0 DCIS — noninvasive cancer contained in the milk duct — doctors said they’d just remove it, and it would be “a memory”.
“During surgery, my doctor tested 3 lymph nodes to ensure the cancer hadn’t spread. She found a tumor on 1 lymph node, which didn’t show up on the mammogram.”
After a week’s worth of testing, the pathologist found a micro-invasive cancer in the removed tissue, which also didn’t show up on the mammogram.
“Because the cancer had spread to my lymphatic system, it could potentially be anywhere in my body. That’s when the diagnosis was changed to stage 2 breast cancer.”
Ultimately, she had a mastectomy in January 2017, and began chemotherapy. Last month, she completed her treatment.
“My husband has been the best! He’s been taking care of me and the girls and completely supporting me on this journey. He’s the reason I’ve stayed so positive. We’ve been very honest with my daughters about everything. When I found out I’d need chemo and lose my hair, we told them about it and to set a positive tone. I said I’d be bald like Pappou! The girls aren’t shy to talk about it. It makes me proud that they’re comfortable and confident enough to talk about my journey, including my bald head, with friends and teachers. Alexandra takes the time to educate them rather than being embarrassed or shy about it.”
Melinda is a Komen Chicago More than Pink Hero
The timing of the Komen Chicago Mother’s Day Race For the Cure is significant for Melinda, having just completed treatment. It’s also helping her move on to healing,
“It allows me to shut the door on chemo and move on to the next phase of my journey. No better way than to be surrounded by my family and friends and other people touched by breast cancer.”
She reflected on the 20th anniversary of Susan G Komen Chicago.
“I think back over the last 20 years, how far we have come in treating breast cancer. There are many more options out there for people like me, because of the research supported by Komen over the years is great and very promising. This race is a testament of how far we’ve come in the fight against breast cancer, but yet how much more still needs to be done to reduce the cases of advanced stages of and especially to reduce the deaths from breast cancer.”
Being a Pink Hero gives her the strength and impetus to fight for others.
“I am honored to be chosen as a More Than Pink Hero. It allows me to stand up for anyone who has to fight harder than I do. It’s an honor to stand up for those struggling with their own cancer diagnosis. I want to show them strength and positivity. I want to remind them and their families that they are not alone and that we will get through this. I am honored to represent such a remarkable community of breast cancer fighters, filled with strength and resilience.I am proud to show my daughters that it is possible to overcome adversity.”
Being a Pink Hero provides her yet another way to fulfill that goal that led her to become a police department: to make a difference, and help those in need.
Komen Chicago Mother’s Day Race for the Cure
Cheer on Melinda and all those fighting cancer, at the Komen Chicago Mother’s Day 5K Race for the Cure, at Chicago’s Montrose Harbor. Main stage program begins at 8:00 am, race at 9:00 am.
Susan G. Komen’s promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by energizing science to find cures, ensuring quality care for all and empowering people with knowledge. Komen Chicago donates 75 percent of net funds raised to community grants and dedicates 25 percent to global research. For more information, visit the website.
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