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Without my incredible colleagues, I might not be here today

December 8, 2021 | 5 min read

By Melody Smith-Lopez

Melody Smith-Lopez is a Communications and Brand Assistant for Global Communications at Elsevier.

The lifesaving support my Elsevier colleagues gave me is something I will never forget.

My absolute favorite quote by Maya Angelou is: “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

The sentiment is dear to me because of the kindness, care and support I experienced from colleagues around the world during a devastating time in my life. My heart carries many precious memories of the outpouring of strength they shared when I was quite weak and fragile.

Just a few years ago, my 8-year-old daughter pushed me in a wheelchair because I was too ill to walk. This was a frightening time in my life; I was facing an unknown medical diagnosis, and my health steadily declined.

Melody in the hospital with her children.

Melody in the hospital with her children.

Although my illness left me unable to work, my coworkers kept in touch with me and rallied around me through every twist and turn my journey took me. It was the lifesaving support of my friends at Elsevier that would equip me with the strength and resources to regain much of what I’d lost.

My career at Elsevier began in 2009 when I was hired as a journal manager in Operations. In 2015, I moved to the Global Communications team to support Chrysanne Lowe(opens in new tab/window), now Senior VP of Content, Brand and Engagement, in the San Diego office. The relationships formed in my office and across the world were the best part of my daily life.

It was in 2017 when I became unwell. This was a tumultuous time in my life, involving deep physical pain, limited mobility, crushing fatigue and cognitive impairment that robbed me of memory and mathematical ability. Meanwhile, my inability to digest food led to a debilitating weight loss that further weakened by body and spirit.

While the physical side effects brought about immense suffering, I also grieved the loss of a daily routine that included dear colleagues I genuinely love.

Yet I was never forgotten by the people I worked with. Throughout my illness, they sent helpful research articles from ScienceDirect and ClinicalKey. The fundraiser they held allowed me to see multiple specialists and — when a diagnosis was finally made — to purchase essential, costly medication beyond what insurance would cover.

Fortunately, we make the research we publish available to all patients and caregivers through the Elsevier Patient Access Program.

I was diagnosed with multiple strains of Bartonella(opens in new tab/window), a vector-borne bacterial infectious disease that can be transmitted by ticks, fleas, mosquitos, spiders and other insects and arachnids, sometimes through animal hosts(opens in new tab/window) like cats and dogs. Vector-borne illnesses, which include lyme disease and malaria, are a global burden, and their treatment tends to be underfunded. According to the World Health Organization(opens in new tab/window), they account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases and cause more than 700,000 deaths annually.

Although Bartonella is considered a rare disease, I was very fortunate to get a diagnosis and the best treatment available. All together, the genuine kindness and persistence of my colleagues helped lead me to regain my health in a greater measure than I imagined possible.

When offered the opportunity to return to Global Communications in 2019, I was ecstatic.

It is an absolute joy to share purposeful work alongside talented souls, and grow together as we make a difference across the world. I am also grateful for the opportunity to grow along with my colleagues here as we pursue the integration of psychological safety(opens in new tab/window) into our culture. I joined the Inclusion & Diversity community of internal trained facilitators in 2020, and I’ve had the privilege of facilitating several internal discussions in various departments. In 2021, I became a certified coach for psychological safety and have dedicated myself to elevating an inclusive culture in Global Communications and beyond.

At Elsevier we do purposeful work, we grow every day, and we have colleagues who care. For me, this is more than a motto — it’s my reality: “Together we create possibilities.”

"I work with colleagues who care"

Melody shares her Elsevier experience in this short video.

Watch Melody's video(opens in new tab/window)


Photo of Melody Smith Lopez


Melody Smith-Lopez

Employer Brand Manager