The Comedy Show was a huge success - although, not well attended, there were many wonderful people who donated time, effort and a whole lot of money.

God Bless All of YOU!



Rx: laughter
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Comedy show will benefit family of Hemet girl suffering from inoperable brain tumor


12:40 AM PDT on Thursday, August 26, 2004

By MARILEE REYES / The Press-Enterprise

HEMET - Some days the sign on the front door of the Schleigh home encourages visitors to ask about Melody's health. It reminds people that "Only happy tears are shed here."


Other days the sign is turned over and people are asked to respect the family's need to spend time together.


Melody is the 7-year-old daughter of Robert and Debbie Schleigh and sister of 10-year-old Devin. The Hemet girl has an inoperable brain tumor called diffuse pontineglioma, a malignant tumor that grows on the stem part of the brain that controls many vital functions.


On Saturday, a comedy show in Winchester will raise money to help the family meet expenses.


It began in March, when Debbie Schleigh said they thought Melody had a cold. When Melody had a problem with her balance, her parents took her to the doctor.


"On Monday, (three days later) her balance was worse and we took her back," said Debbie Schleigh. "The doctor asked if she'd had a head trauma. The only thing we could think of was that a couple of weeks before she'd knocked heads with the dog and had a black eye from that. The doctor thought there might be bleeding (from the bump)."


Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Debbie Schleigh recounted Wednesday the trip to Children's Hospital in San Diego, the motor skills and vision tests and a CAT scan. A social worker, family counselor and doctor took the family to a private room to explain what they found.


She paused before continuing. A six-week period of daily radiation treatments preceded chemotherapy that still continues. Medication has caused Melody's weight to almost double and she has to take what she calls "belly ache medicine." She starts home schooling soon.


Math is Melody's favorite subject, and she likes to color and do crafts. She enjoys receiving mail from people who have heard about her. More than 500 cards are taped to the kitchen wall.


Melody also plays with her cousin Allison Peji. The two spent a few minutes giggling as they wrapped fuchsia feather boas about their heads. Debbie and Robert Schleigh laughed, too. So did Robert's mother, Terry Schleigh, who divides her time between her San Diego home and Hemet, and Karen Peji, Robert Schleigh's sister.


Peji lives around the corner and, like other family members, has pitched in to help.


Robert Schleigh is on leave from his job in the San Diego City School District and Debbie Schleigh quit her job to take care of Melody, Peji said.


Peji put herself in charge of housekeeping and arranging meals.
Peji says neighbors and the staff at Harmony Elementary in Hemet, where Melody attends, have provided meals for the family.


Family friend and neighbor Stan Simmons is heading the comedy show, she said. Proceeds from tickets will go to the Benevolent Account for Melody Schleigh for medical care and to enable the family to spend as much time together as possible.


"The bills are still there: mortgages, food, doctors, and the gas bills from driving to San Diego for treatments is unbelievable," she said.


A comedian for 18 years, Simmons also is a computer programmer and webmaster for a Web site for Melody:


"I have a 2-year-old and this really hit me hard," Simmons said.


Simmons recruited two other comedians through his Sprocket Entertainment agency and everything for the event has been donated, Peji said.


 "A whole lot of support is generously being donated to make this night one to remember," she said. "Laughter really is the best medicine."

Reach Marilee Reyes at (951) 763-3473 or


Carrie Rosema / The Press-Enterprise
Melody Schleigh, 7, gets into a silly string fight with her parents. A comedy show will raise money so Melody, who has an inoperable brain tumor, can spend quality time with her family.