Love, Kindness, and Minnie Mouse Ears
“Cancer is no fun, but there’s so many gifts. If you can see it that way.”
Melissa Ferguson was churning through the health system, advocating for labs, getting reassured she was fine. But then: colorectal cancer. Thankfully, she landed at Providence St. Jude Medical Center’s Crosson Cancer Institute.
“They treated me like family from the first time I walked in: the nurses, the staff, the doctors. It was just amazing how quickly I felt like I was being taken care of by my own mom through these people,” Melissa reflected.
It is heart wrenching when you get a diagnosis. What will chemotherapy be like? How do you explain cancer to my seven-year-old daughter? Can I still play with her with neuropathy?
“There was no, ‘let’s wait and see’,” Melissa said, as she experienced at other organizations. “This is life and death, and they treated it that way.”
Melissa’s chemotherapy started right as the Covid-19 pandemic was emerging. Not only did she now have to face cancer, but she now had to face it without her husband and daughter by her side during treatments. Luckily, her Providence St. Jude family was there with every step.
On treatment days, Melissa decided to use her collection of Minnie Mouse ears as a way for her family to spot her as she was getting picked up from the clinic. Little did she know, the nurses would love it too! If chemotherapy could ever be fun, this was how to do it.
Nurses would make their way over during each treatment to see what ears Melissa had on that day. It became her staple. “There’s nothing more special than being surrounded by people like that,” Melissa shared. The positive energy was contagious, like a domino effect.
Fueled off the strength and positivity from her Providence St. Jude family, Melissa fired it right back.
“It’s more than a job for them,” said Melissa. “I’ve had a lot of happy tears in that chemo chair. Cancer is no fun, but there are so many gifts — if you can see it that way.”
Today, Melissa’s healing journey has evolved. She recently showcased her strength and courage as a model in Providence St. Jude Memorial Foundation’s annual cancer fundraiser, A Walk Among the Stars Fashion Show & Gala.
“Cancer has taught me to say yes to things that would be uncomfortable but turn out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling,” Melissa reflected. “I just want to give back to what has been given to me, which is love and kindness and feeling like family.”
“Everybody who is a part of giving their time, talent and treasure, I say a big thank you. To the volunteers, nurses, staff, I want to be there for you,” Melissa expressed.
“You have allowed me to be able to continue to live my life 2-1/2 years after diagnosis. To not just live— but to live and thrive. And if I never meet you, thank you for what you have done for me and other patients. You are blessing people in ways that you never know. Thank you can be such a simple thing, but my thank you is genuine because of what I have seen.”
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