Popular YouTube star Melanie Ham has died from a rare cancer just days before her 16th wedding anniversary, her husband Robert has announced.
The 36-year-old mother-of-two, from Los Angeles, gained more than 811,000 followers on YouTube for her sewing, crochet and DIY tutorials, with some of her videos reaching over five million views.
However, in January 2019 Melanie also began sharing details of her health struggles, after revealing that doctors had found a mass in her kidney in December 2018. She was then diagnosed with a rare type of sarcoma called epithelioid angiomyolipoma in August 2020.
Despite undergoing several aggressive treatments over the past 18 months, Melanie passed away on January 12.
Announcing the news of her death on Instagram, Robert said: ‘It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness I share the news of the passing of my sweet, amazing, beautiful wife Melanie.
Popular YouTuber Melanie Ham, 36, from Los Angeles, has died from cancer days before her 16th wedding anniversary, her husband Robert has announced
Among the images he shared was a snap as he held his wife while she sat in a hospital bed, which he said was in a ‘very vulnerable’ moment
Robert and Melanie shared two children together (pictured) – a son and a daughter, both of whom are under the age of 14
‘If you’ve been following our journey I’m sure you were, like us, hopeful she could defeat this insidious disease.
‘Over the past few months things have been progressively getting worse and we’re thankful that we made it to this point through the holidays and tried to make every moment count.
‘We are short 9 days of our 16 year anniversary.’
Robert, who shared a son and daughter, both under the age of 14, with Melanie, went on to praise his wife for ‘fighting until the end’, while thanking all of those who supported her throughout her treatment.
‘My family, our doctors, our nurses and especially Melanie fought until the end and did all we could do to avoid today, but that is not our path,’ he continued.
‘Let me reassure all those rooting for us, Melanie fought like a warrior queen.
‘Despite the deep grief my family and I feel today we want to celebrate an amazing woman and a life well-lived.
‘She loved passionately, created beautifully, provided abundantly and was my best friend all the way to the end.’
The 36-year-old gained over 811,000 followers on YouTube for her sewing, crochet and DIY tutorials, with some of her videos gaining millions of views
Melanie was first diagnosed with cancer in 2020, after finding a mass on her abdomen in 2019 which turned out to be a sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that forms in the bones and soft tissue
The YouTube star and blogger began updating her followers on her health struggles via videos and on her Instagram page, where she shared several photos of herself in hospital
After sharing the news of her diagnosis, Melanie began posting regular health updates with her followers, while continuing to share DIY tutorials
He added: ‘She was an extraordinary woman and God has another beautiful angel.
‘She can now walk, and sing, and dance in a way her body did not allow over the last few months.
The rare cancer that claimed Melanie’s life: What is sarcoma and how common is it?
Sarcoma is the general term for a rare group of cancers that can occur in a number of different locations in the body.
This type of cancer forms in the bones and in the soft (or connective) tissues, including the muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and the linings of the joints.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 70 different types of sarcoma, however this type of cancer accounts for just one per cent of all adult cancer cases.
In the US, around 12,000 people are diagnosed with sarcoma each year.
Treatment options vary depending on where the sarcoma is found in the body, but can include traditional therapies like chemo, radiation, and surgery.
Only slightly more than half of people with sarcomas (55 per cent) survive for five years or more after their diagnosis.
Symptoms of sarcomas can include bone pain, swellings or lumps, and restricted movement if it is growing near a joint.
Epithelioid angiomyolipoma – which Melanie was diagnosed with – is a rare type of sarcoma found in the kidney.
‘She relied on her faith in Jesus all the way to the end and she will always be with me.’
The father-of-two went on to ask for prayers for his ‘beautiful, strong children.’
Among the images he shared was a snap as he held his wife while she sat in a hospital bed, which he said was in a ‘very vulnerable’ moment.
In a follow-up post, Robert shared that his wife’s memorial service will be held on January 29 at the Crossroads Community Church in Valencia, noting that ‘colorful attire is encouraged’ – a nod to his wife’s love of bright colors and fun-filled crafts.
Melanie gained over 800,000 subscribers on YouTube after she began sharing her crafting tutorials about crocheting, knitting and sewing back in December 2011.
On her blog, she explained that she first began dabbling in DIY and arts and crafts in 2007, when she took a beginners’ sewing class – an experience that prompted her to buy her own sewing machine not long after.
At the time, Melanie was just finishing college and her husband, Robert, had joined the US Army – meaning that she had ‘a little extra time on her hands’, much of which she dedicated to honing her ‘crafty’ skills.
‘I started sewing crafty stuff, just simple things and then in 2010 I made my first quilt and have been obsessed ever since,’ she wrote.
She then turned her hand to crochet because it was a ‘craft she could travel with’ and therefore gave her something to do while her husband was on deployment.
Among her most popular videos were ‘Easy beginner crochet blanket tutorial’, which was uploaded seven years ago and now has close to six million views.
Meanwhile her DIY Face Mask with Elastic in 10 minutes – Sewing Tutorial has close to 3,500,000 views.
But in August 2020, Melanie also began sharing her health issues with followers in, explaining that she’d had some ‘tough news’ after finding a mass in her stomach in 2019.
She explained: ‘Over the last several weeks we have discovered that the mass has come back.
While sharing the news of his wife’s passing, Robert went on to ask for prayers for his ‘beautiful, strong children’ (pictured with their mother)
Melanie and Robert (pictured left on their wedding day and right in July 2019) tied the knot in 2006 – and were just nine days away from their 16th anniversary when she passed away
Although Melanie (pictured with her family in February 2019) regularly shared pictures of her children on Instagram, she kept their names private
‘I am having abdominal surgery on Monday to get as much as possible before starting an mtor [drug therapy] treatment.’
In October, Melanie shared her final health update with her followers and fans on her blog, explaining that her health had ‘been quite a struggle’ for the past few months.
Having undergone surgery in May 2021, the mother-of-two said she and her ‘amazing surgeons’ had hoped that the procedure would leave her ‘tumor free’ – however she was devastated to learn just a few weeks after the operation that her cancer had spread once again.
‘But only 5 weeks after surgery I had new symptoms and after a scan we discovered that the cancer spread and had become very aggressive… again,’ she wrote.
‘Robert was in a middle of a work trip and I called him, it was another one of those gut punches, our fight is not over. The next few weeks were a really scary time.
‘The next best option was to try and get things under control, so we immediately started a harsher chemo regimen. So in June, I started a drug combo that made my hair fall out and have some of the “chemo” side effects I had so far been able to avoid. That was a really hard moment for me.
‘Robert shaved my head and we just cried together. We were of course hopeful that this chemo would work but after a few rounds we scanned again and the chemo wasn’t doing a darn thing – all the cancer was still progressing. Another gut punch.’
In his post announcing his wife’s death, Robert said she was ‘an extraordinary woman’ and added that ‘God has another beautiful angel’ (pictured together)
The father-of-two shared a post on her Instagram page saying his wife had ‘loved passionately, created beautifully and was his best friend all the way to the end’
Speaking about her love of arts and crafts on her blog, Melanie shard that she started learning to sew in 2007 when her husband joined the army, leaving her with ‘plenty of free time’
Over the following months, Melanie tried a range of different – and very aggressive – treatment options, including a course of new chemotherapy drugs.
‘We’re always trying to stay optimistic that this will be the treatment that works, but the truth is there is no clear path on how to battle this, so we’re just gonna keep fighting,’ she added.
After her husband announced news of her death, many fans flooded the post with supportive comments.
One wrote: ‘Oh Robert… I don’t have any words. I’m just so brokenhearted for y’all. Melanie was such a kind and gentle and good soul.
‘You and your beautiful kids will be in my prayers.’
Another commented: ‘I am so, so sorry to learn of Melanie’s passing. I was praying for her and I am deeply saddened by the news.
‘I met Melanie thanks to the blogging world and her kindness and smile always lit up the rooms she walked into. Robert, my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. I am so, so sorry.’
A third added: ‘Sending your family love and light. This is such a beautiful, but bittersweet post to see…
‘Your wife is beautiful. Praying for you and yours.’