Mercede’s Hat Shop
Hearing the words “You have cancer” is enough to put fear into anyone. But imagine that you are nine years old, it’s the beginning of summer, and all of your friends are playing outside, swimming, going on vacation and you have just been told you have cancer. I will never forget the day that we heard those words. I will never forget watching Mercede so calmly sitting in her hospital bed and hearing all that she was going to have to endure to fight for her life. She listened intently, asked a few questions and then smiled and said “Okay.” Then they told her that she would probably lose her hair…all of it…her beautiful, long, brown, wavy hair. And she cried. While she cried, my heart broke.It was seventeen days before Mercede started losing her hair and she had kind of forgotten about it. But on day seventeen her hair started coming out in clumps. She had a great sense of humor about it at first, telling my dad and me that she was so mad she could pull her hair out, then reaching up and pulling out handfuls and laughing. That night after my dad left, Mercede decided she was ready to shave her head. I was the one who had to do it. She was so brave, sitting there watching her hair fall to the hospital floor. After I was through, she asked for a mirror, looked at herself and said “I’m hideous.” Then despite me telling her over and over how beautiful she was, she pulled the covers over her head and cried herself to sleep. So I did too.The next morning Mercede refused to take the covers off her head. The doctors and nurses understood and did their best to take care of her, covers and all. She stayed like that, in hiding, until my sister, her Aunt Andrea, got there with hats…two cute hats. Mercede put one on and pulled the covers off and got down to play. That little hat was all she needed to bring back her confidence. So from that day on, hats became a big part of Mercede’s daily life.
She wore a different one every day…usually with a big bright flower on it. She decided to start “Mercede’s Hat Shop” and sold hats from her hospital room to raise money for childhood cancer research. She also made it her mission to make sure all the other kids fighting cancer there with her had hats too. She loved to give hats to them. It kept her going. When we were trying to decide the best way to carry on Mercede’s legacy, hats were the first thing we thought of. So we reopened “Mercede’s Hat Shop” using the picture she drew herself in the hospital to decorate the hat shop. We took the first one to the hospital where Mercede fought on what should have been her twelfth birthday. Now the children there can chose a few hats on the day they lose their hair from chemo. We hope these hats will give them confidence, just like they did for Mercede.
We wish with all our hearts that things were different, that she was here. But we know she would be happy and proud that her work is continuing. Her giving heart lives in us and in all who help continue her mission.
Continuing her mission to bring love and comfort to hospitalized children.