Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A Cancer Survivor’s Journey to Graduate and Heal

By Stella Connell

School of Business Administration

Macey Hicks completes classes to graduate and seeks to advocate for patients

Growing up in the Florida panhandle, Macey Hicks didn’t seriously consider the University of Mississippi until she began visiting a friend at Ole Miss during her senior year of high school. Then, she and her mother came for an official tour and “fell in love with the campus,” she said.

In the fall of 2017, she enrolled as a freshman, completed recruitment, joined Kappa Delta sorority and decided the School of Business Administration was the best fit for her academically. Later, she declared her major in marketing and communication strategy with a minor in entrepreneurship.

Macey Hicks(left) with Avery Robinson on Bid Day in September 2017. Hicks joined Kappa Delta sorority. Submitted photo

But by the beginning of her sophomore year, Hicks began to run a high fever, accompanied by extreme fatigue and night sweats. All her symptoms seemed like a bad case of mono. This went on for almost five months and no doctor was able to cure her until she came home after her finals.

She went to see Dr. Tarek Eldawy, who diagnosed her with Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting system. That is when Hicks’s journey began.

“Completing classes, while not knowing if I was going to survive, was quite the challenge,” she said. “I had some help from classmates and friends back home to help me meet due dates when I was in the hospital.”

There were others to help her obtain her degree while enduring the treatments. Cesar Rego, who taught MKTG 372: Supply Chain Management, was particularly supportive by allowing some flexibility with her assignments and by checking on her frequently.

“Macey had to travel regularly to Houston for her checkups or treatments, which made her miss many classes,” Rego said. “I’d meet with her in my office to teach her the material she had missed in those days.

“Her enthusiasm was contagious and her learning speed out of the ordinary.”

Macey Hicks rings the bell at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston’s Pediatric Wing at her release from the hospital 30 days after the stem cell transplant in August 2020. Submitted photo

“Her enthusiasm was contagious and her learning speed out of the ordinary.”

In December 2019, cancer was detected again, and Hicks traveled to Houston, Texas, to the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she received a stem cell transplant. She and her mother lived in Houston for over six months, both because of COVID and because her immune system was too impaired for her to leave.

While at MD Anderson, she participated in a program called AYA, or the Adolescent and Young Adult Program, designed to support younger patients. Through this program, she received a scholarship help pay her college tuition.

Hicks’ focus these last two years has been completing her school work to wrap up her degree from Ole Miss and graduate in May. She hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry to promote and sell therapies for blood cancers.

Macey (right) with her friend’s niece, Toni Bass, at a wedding on March 26, 2022. Bass recently beat cancer. Submitted Photo

Since her transplant and treatment at MD Anderson, she has had clear scans since August 2020.

“I know there is a long road ahead to get me where I want to be,” she said. “I’ll work my way up for the chance to help patients find the right treatment and inspire confidence in their treatment plan and medical team.”


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