Melissa suffers from a rare condition known as cystinosis, which is a metabolic disease that causes cystine crystals, an amino acid, to accumulate in the body’s major organs. Further complications of Melissa’s disease are Fanconi syndrome, a failure of the kidneys to reabsorb nutrients, and rickets, softening of the bones. She must take nine different medications each day, has severe stomach problems, and must avoid the sunlight.
Upon arrival at the premiere of the “Lizzie McGuire” movie, Melissa actually walked the red carpet and even got interviewed by Fred TV! A pre-movie highlight came when ‘Lizzie McGuire’ co-star Clayton Snyder introduced himself to Melissa and gave her a hug. When the movie was over, Melissa attended the after party, where she finally got to meet her idol, Hilary Duff. “She hugged me and told me that our hair matched,” said Melissa of her star encounter with Duff. After taking photos with and speaking to the bright young star, Melissa enjoyed the rest of the party and hobnobbed with celebrities like Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley and Aaron Carter.