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Special Report: Reporter With Half A Smile

A member of our KARK news team is fighting a rare illness called Bell's Palsy.
Melissa's husband Bobby shows his support for his wife.
Melissa's husband Bobby shows his support for his wife.
Taken Dec. 14.
Taken Dec. 14.
Taken Dec. 22.
Taken Dec. 22.
Taken Dec. 30.
Taken Dec. 30.
Melissa posted this photo on her blog Jan. 13, saying she was free of Bell's Palsy!
Melissa posted this photo on her blog Jan. 13, saying she was free of Bell's Palsy!
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A member of our KARK news team is fighting a rare illness called Bell's Palsy. It is a paralysis on a person's face, making it appear droopy.

As a member of our on air team, Melissa Schroeder worried about the future of her career.

In the high-paced, competitve world of TV news, what is reported matters and how the talent looks on-air is important as well.

But for Melissa, her future in the business became unclear in December, when the left side of her face wouldn't move.
 
"It may seem a little strange, but your face is almost part of your tool kit when you are a reporter," Melissa said.

She thought it was the result of covering a harsh winter storm.
 
"I was like, maybe I'm just cold," she said. "Then a couple of days went by, and I noticed I couldn't move the left side of my face at all. That's when my husband took me to the emergency room and told me I had something called Bell's Palsy."

Bell's Palsy is a form of facial paralysis, resulting from damage or trauma to the facial nerves.

Doctors don't know what causes it and it is treated differently from person to person.

Those affected have a hard time doing simple tasks, like eating and sleeping.

"It was really scary because I didn't know what was going to happen," Melissa recalled.

For two weeks recovering, she didn't appear on air.

She only felt comfortable using her voice.
 
"It is so wierd not being able to smile," Melissa said.

Although she could give a half-smile, her husband made her whole by offering his support.
 
"I just thought we should take a photo and I will show my support by making my face look like yours," Bobby said.

Over the course of two weeks, Melissa's half smile progressivly got better and she returned to reporting on air.

Melissa continues to improve, but for the mother-in-law of another KARK employee who has Bell's Palsy, she's been waiting for more than two decades for the paralysis to go away.

"I hope every day I'm going to get well, but I don't," said Annette Roberts, Chief Meteorologist Keith Monahan's mother-in-law.

She got Bell's Palsy in the early 90's and hasn't made a full recovery yet.

"Now I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and pray my smile is going to be back, and it's not. So every morning for 23 years, I'm waiting," Roberts said.

But she chooses to keep on living her life.

"My life is fabulous. I couldnt ask for any better," Roberts said
.
Like Roberts, Melissa has chosen to do the same thing, find a silver lining in a difficult situation.

"I ended up losing 5 pounds in the process, so it got my diet kick started," Melissa said.
 

Head here to watch the extended version of this story.

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