Stephen and Melissa Burch

Stephen and Melissa Burch are seen with their three children. The family is collecting funds to help pay for radiation treatment for Melissa, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in June.

Courtesy Photo

Spc. Stephen Burch wasn’t expecting doctors to discover three herniated discs in his back after returning from a deployment to Afghanistan in January 2011.

Although the combat engineer wanted to continue serving at Fort Hood, Burch was medically discharged. No longer insured, Burch’s family is in a bind after his wife of four years, Melissa, was diagnosed with brain cancer in June.

Stephen Burch continued to work in Killeen part time but recently quit his job to be with Melissa, 23, who is raising money so she can start radiation treatments in Houston.

“It’s frustrating,” said Melissa Burch, whose parents are trying to add her to their insurance. “Sometimes I feel like (the doctors) just want me to die. I feel like my life is in their hands.”

Although surgeons removed a golf-ball-size tumor from her brain last month, she said they weren’t able to remove about 5 to 7 percent of it since it was too close to the part of her brain that controls motor functions.

Burch said doctors told her the cancer is fast-growing. She’s afraid she won’t be around to see her children grow.

“It’s been rough not knowing how things are going to go for my kids,” she said. “They tell me it’s not curable, but I believe in a God bigger than that, and if enough people pray, we can beat this.”

Residents can help the Burch family by donating to an online fund at

“Melissa is one of the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever met,” said Carissa Simshauser, a friend who set up the fund.

All funds will be mailed directly to the hospital.

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.