Melanie Grace Bernhart

Our Wonder Woman

Mel’s Story

When my day comes to meet my Lord, please do not say that I ’lost my battle’ with cancer. Cancer is not a battle that you can fight fairly, and I do not plan on giving up even until the very end. No one can say for one second that I did not give it my all.


Wonder Woman, Super Warrior, Thriver, Buttah, Chino Hills Famous, Schmelly, and when she was young, Melanie Grace with the funny face or Melly Belly—Melanie was known by so many loving names. But none were as special to her as wife, mother, sister, auntie, and Lola, which was her chosen name for her recent promotion to grandmother. Melanie Bernhart, 45, of Chino Hills, California died on November 23, 2023, from Metastatic Breast Cancer, passing away peacefully in her sleep at home, surrounded by her family.

Born in Westminster, California on May 22, 1978, to Larry and Susan Beatty, breaking the five-generation boy streak (paternal). She spent her childhood in Anaheim, book ended by two brothers, Joel and Tony, and, at the age of ten, met her older half-sister, Lara. Melanie was homeschooled and graduated from The King’s Academy ISP.  With her family, she attended Village Bible Church in Garden Grove, where she found her love for Jesus and was baptized. Her involvement with youth group and homeschooling groups played a significant role in her faith in Christ and the lifelong friendships that were so important to her.

Melanie began working for her mother at the CHEA of California office, in her teens. After five years working in various jobs, she transitioned to a receptionist position. Her potential was quickly recognized, and she was promoted to a trainee position within HR. She continued her career in Human Resources for many years until she dedicated her life to her most important role of a mother, wife and homemaker.

In 1998, She met the love of her life Neil Bernhart in their place of work. In an intimate ceremony on March 31, 2000—of course, only after being vetted by her brothers and two best friends Stacy and Rene, they were married at the Historic Orange County Courthouse. The following year, with loved ones in attendance, a larger formal ceremony took place at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. Melanie not only became a wife when she and Neil were married but became a Bonus Mom to Lauren, which was one of the many blessings their union brought. They were overjoyed to add Brody Neil Bernhart to their family in 2008. She loved being his mother and was fiercely loyal and protective of him.

Lauren married Tyler Lovest in 2021 and a year later welcomed a son. Beckham, lovingly known to many as “Beef,” was loved immensely by his “Lola.” In the last year, Melanie spent as much time with him as she could. She was so thankful to have celebrated Beckham’s first birthday just weeks before she passed.

Melanie’s fight began in June, 2010, when she was first diagnosed with early stage Breast Cancer. When it returned and spread in January, 2015, she became a Metastatic Breast Cancer Thriver and an advocate for research for a cure. The start of her teaching so many by her example. Melanie used her journey and experiences to advocate, educate, and support others fighting cancer. Sharing about the difficult challenges, unpleasant truths, and harsh reality one with MBC faces.

It was no secret that Melanie was passionate about physical fitness. Melanie thrived in the gym and had a love for being active. Never making excuses for not doing what she loved. A true warrior. She was inspiring to onlookers knowing her struggles, yet living each day as if it were her last. Cancer never stopped her. She may have had cancer but cancer was not who she was. #noexcuses.

You would hear Melanie say “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.”. Making memories with family and friends was important to her. Time with those she loved was motivation in her fight to live another day. She was a true friend to so many. You didn’t have to share DNA to be important in her life and to be considered her family. Melanie’s love for God was steadfast. Her faith was immovable, even in the most difficult of times. Never questioning his plan. Finding great comfort in knowing that God’s got this.

“A fierce woman is fierce in belief, in joy, in compassion, in commitment, in intelligence, in wit, and in community. She’s capable not only of finding her own way, but of creating a path for others; she doesn’t just break down doors, she tears down walls.”

Gina Barreca, author 

Melanie was the definition of fierce. She lived all the days of her life to the fullest, all 16,621 of them. For 4,914 she fought a fight that no one should ever have to, with grace and tenacity.

I am doing my best to stay strong and keeping my faith in whatever God’s plans are for my life, even if there are times when it is not easy.



Melanie is survived by her husband Neil Bernhart, son Brody Bernhart, daughter Lauren (Tyler) Lovest, grandson Beckham. Beloved parents Larry and Susan Beatty, and siblings Joel (Shannon) Beatty, Tony (Yesenia) Beatty, Lara (James) Johnson, and their children. Also, by her mother-in-law Rose, brother-in-law Derek (Kristin) Bernhart, sister-in-law Stephanie (Eric) Schweizer, and their children.  Plus, her bonus brother Justin McCray. Best friends Stacy Dover, Rene DeJong, and Travis Williams.