CLEVELAND — It’s impossible not to smile when you meet Mercedes Mackey.
She works at the front desk at University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center, helping to check in patients when they come for appointments or treatments. It’s a responsibility she takes extremely seriously.
“It’s more than just a check-in when patients come to check in at the desk, it’s about forming a relationship,” Mackey said. “It’s about that first interaction with the patient that is going to set the tone for the remainder of that patient’s visit.”
Marilyn Kapucinski knows the power of Mackey’s positivity first-hand. She met Mackey while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer at Seidman. The first time she walked in for treatment, she noticed Mackey’s red, glittery lipstick. When Kapucinski mentioned she liked it, Mackey said she would bring her one just like it. Kapucinski didn’t believe her, but the next time she came for an appointment, Mackey had the lipstick waiting for her.
“When you meet her, you feel better about yourself,” Kapucinski said.
When the pandemic hit, Mackey struggled as she was no longer able to have as much close contact with patients.
That’s when she came up with an idea.
She decided to bedazzle her face mask, hoping to bring a little positivity and sparkle to patients in some of their darkest moments. Every day, she wore a different mask, adorned with jewels and beads. She says she got dozens of comments – from patients, doctors, nurses, anyone whom she came across during the day.
“I can’t take away the pain, I can’t have a cure for cancer,” she said, “but I can alleviate the pain for a short time just to make someone smile.”
The masks were such a hit, she decided to start making them for cancer patients. Now, when anyone comments on her mask, she surprises them with their own the next time she sees them.
“People may not remember your name, but they will always remember the impact you have on them,” Mackey said.
If you would like to donate to help her buy materials, you can contact UH Volunteer Services at 216-844-1504.
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