Melody J. Cunningham, MD
Melody J. Cunningham, MD
Home » Finalist Profiles » Melody J. Cunningham, MD
A series of losses, including the death of her
father, during Melody Cunningham's
childhood taught her
the definition of compassion and the depth of the human experience.
As a pediatric palliative care and hematology/oncology physician and medical director of Threads of Care, the palliative care program at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, Melody treasures every individual she comes in contact with.
A winding path of jobs and experiences led her
to oncology, where compassionate mentors taught her
a powerful distinction: to look at medical relationships as human relationships.
"I teach our medical students, residents and fellows that it's OK to be human, to make mistakes and to say we're sorry.
As caregivers, we can laugh with families and we can cry with families," says Melody
Caring for her
team is just as important as caring for her
often arranges for her
team to gather at her
house to prepare food for the week, drops off food at team members' homes when she
knows they've had a difficult week, and has also been known to provide free babysitting services for colleagues.
An active participant of the Schwartz Center
Rounds® program, Melody
emphasizes that it's important for caregivers to remember they are human and to take the time needed to process thoughts and emotions.
team work to make sure families feel like they always have a safety net.
With a 24/7 phone line, caregivers are never out of reach.
"Throughout our son's illness, Melody
was available, day or night, to answer questions and provide comfort.
became our friend, caregiver, confidant and biggest advocate during the darkest period of our lives," says a former patient's mother.
practice with listening ears and an empathizing heart.
often wears a bracelet with a pair of moccasins on it, which reminds her
to step into the other person's shoes and picture their journey from their perspective.
believes that listening to patients and understanding their point of view and how they define quality of life is integral to the healing process.
hugged us, cried with us, laughed and celebrated milestones over the course of our daughter's illness," says a former patient's mother.
by our side, we never felt alone or incapable of caring for our daughter."
Listen to the WBUR Kind World feature on Dr. Cunningham
Learn more about the 2015 Schwartz Center NCCY Award.