cmt careers

CMT Careers: No Piece Of Cake

by | Mar 31, 2018 | 7 comments

cmt careers

Sometimes physical challenges can dictate job and career paths. When our bodies are limited, fear can weave itself between our passions and confidence. It takes a strong and bold mindset to move towards something we already know will be extra difficult.

Melissa Amalfitano did exactly that when she made the decision to attend the Culinary Academy of Long Island for Pastry Arts 10 years ago. Diagnosed at only two years old, Melissa was well aware of the effects CMT had on daily living. Paralysis of her feet made standing in leg braces for long period incredibly painful. Grabbing and holding objects with atrophied hands took an extra dose of energy and patience. Despite concern and opposition from others, Melissa started classes and graduated nine months later at the top of her class.

Let’s hear from Melissa:

It started when cake-challenge shows became popular. I loved watching people creating these incredible pieces of edible art. I became inspired and began creating my own cakes for family and friends. I would sit for hours molding all sorts of different candies to use as decorations. It felt like I was a kid playing with Playdoh again. Soon, several people were telling me that I should consider making it into a career for myself.

cmt careersTime is always against me. Whenever I try to speed up, my hands just go numb and don’t work well. Iʼll never forget this woman I trained for in a bake shop yelling at me, “What’s with your hands? You can’t do this if there’s something wrong with your are too slow!” I left that day in tears and never returned. I questioned myself the whole drive home. “Maybe she’s right…I’m a fool to have gone back to school to make a career of something using my hands”.

But that feeling of helplessness soon turned to determination. It led me back to my first internship where I was accepted and where my disability didn’t matter. My two mentors were very understanding and previous TV cake stars themselves. They gave me all time I needed, and that’s when my skills and confidence grew. That’s when I watched my ability begin to soar. Iʼll always be grateful to them for seeing so much more in me.

It takes plenty of patience to create edible art; having a disability on top of that requires even more for my body to adapt. This type of work is extremely physical. You’re spending hours on your feet, and hunched in a chair, decorating. I remember at the end of some weeks, I could barely walk without pain. My hands would be so overworked, that I struggled to tie my shoes or hold a fork.

Iʼve since adapted to taking more breaks. As far as my hands go, I hold everything differently…from knives to pastry bags. I canʼt explain how exactly, but I always find a way to adjust how I work; whether itʼs piping a certain design on a cookie or holding a knife to sculpt a cake. My mind and body just know what to do.

cmt careers cakeIʼm constantly challenging myself to create different designs and strive to make it better every time. Each time I hear myself thinking, “Thereʼs no way itʼs going to come out that way, how am I going to pull it off?” But I do, and each time itʼs better than I imagined. My customers’ incredible reactions are what makes it all worthwhile. When they see my creations, no one is seeing a woman with a disability. They are only seeing talent. I’m going to continue to challenge myself and this disease. It has limited me to certain areas of my life, but I refuse to let it take away from this one.

Iʼm am blessed to always have the support of my husband, parents, family, and friends who continue to push and love me.

Learn more on this topic

Related Blog Posts

Join the conversation

Leave a Comment


  1. Beka Bielman

    Your story is just what I needed to read. The fear of not being able to paint as my CMT is getting worse has held me back from doing what I have the most patience for. You’re amazing!

  2. Tyler durden

    I have CMT myself and just wanted to say congratulations! It’s definitely not easy. I can barely button my pants or switch on a lightbulb in a lamp. I’m in constant pain & since this big opioid crisis; pain management has become more and more difficult. Please do yourself a favor and stick with it! The downtime is what kills us atrophy wise and it sounds like you don’t have a lot of that, that is awesome. Enjoy everyday and use every ability; because, as I’m sure you’re well aware, it gets worse with age for most of us as the atrophy increases. I used to be able to do a lot more at 25 than I can at 40, no doubt. You’re an inspiration for even finding a job with CMT! Finding a career you love and have a talent for with our disability can be akin to winning the lottery.

  3. Charolette Marquart

    Thank you for sharing your story. What a blessing to read this!!!!!! You are such an inspiration to those of us that have the same struggles. Blessings hon!!

  4. Millie Johnson

    I know how you feel. I was stubborn and went to school for nursing because I always had a love of medicine. I graduated to become an LPN and went back to finish my degree and become an RN. I did this raising my four young children basically on my own and with CMT. The demands of the job eventually took its toll and now I suffer from severe neuropathy pain and major depression. God has a reason for everything and I can say I’m very thankful for the nursing training I received. This is because my sister in law, who was very sick and pregnant, died giving birth to a micro-preemie named Travis. He weighed 1lbs 2oz at birth and needed a mom. He needed a mom who understood nursing. He came home with me. He came home with a trach, vent, g-tube (the works) and was extremely fragile. My nursing training became extremely important and I had to save his life several times. He is 8 years old now and only has a g-tube remaining from all the medical care devices he endured to keep him alive. He is autistic but is the sweetest most mild tempered boy you could ask for and he is greatly loved by all. Especially his mom and papa.
    Now I work at home on mixed media artwork among many other jewelry, crafts and art projects to keep myself as busy as possible.

  5. Bec

    Good on you! Fear takes away more dreams than failure ever will!i understand & live with all that you mentioned – failing only makes me more determined 🙂

  6. Diana Weir

    I am awed by your talent! Your cake and cupcake designs are breathtaking. I don’t know how you do it. You are an inspiration for many.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join for notifications on events, campaigns, & news