The Video

This short video is a true story about my experience of having surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2011, and my road to recovery.
After writing my first book called “Day By Day” (released March 2014), I was thrilled to meet the band Doug & The Slugs, as their song “Day By Day” was an inspiration during my recuperation.
Thank you for watching

A Very Special Dedication

After learning in the late afternoon of Feb 7th 2014 that Doug & The Slugs were going to dedicate their song “Day By Day” to me in their show the next night, I decided to spontaneously fly out the next morning to experience it live. My Mom (Pam Burgess) and I flew from Toronto to Calgary and attended the show in Calgary Alberta, at the Deerfoot Casino.

The dedication was delivered with a perfect mix of light humor and heartfelt mention. Simon started to talk about how he met “a young woman over the internet”, which got the audiences’ imagination running wild, as giggles and cat calls were let out by audience members. Then he clarified that contacting him was to share my story and the importance of their song “Day By Day” to me. He elaborated by saying I had faced quite the adversity and releasing a book about it very soon with the same name of the song. He finished with,

“This is gong out to Melissa and Pam, who flew here from Toronto to be here tonight”.

Not only were we invited to hang out with the band after the show, I also had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Simon 1:1 for a couple of hours the next day.

A big thank you to Simon Kendall and all other Doug & The Slugs band members Ted Okos, Wally Watson, John Burton, Rick Baker and Steve Bosley, as they were incredibly kind and welcoming.

Ontario Long Term Care Association Article!


Melissa Nichols with Simon Kendal
Melissa Nichols with             Simon Kendall

Melissa Nichols was 28 and working as Vermont Square’s quality co-ordinator in October 2011 when she received news that would change her life.

Diagnosed with a brain tumour, Nichols says the 10 years she spent up to that point working with long-term care residents had given her a unique perspective on life. Following surgery, Nichols went through a recovery process that she says paralleled what many long-term care residents experience. She even had to learn to walk again.

Nichols, who has worked in long-term care since she was a high-school student, is preparing to publish a book chronicling her experiences as a caregiver who has been on both ends of the health-care spectrum.

“The book is about how I have worked in long-term care, my journey to recovery and just how ironic it was that I was so familiar with health care and then (acquired an illness),” Nichols tells the Morning Report.

“I experienced things that I’ve seen patients experience for years.”

Nichols adds that while her experiences provided her with a new perspective, her diagnosis never changed her outlook on why she chose a career in long-term care.

“I’ve always had a passion for working with and working for seniors,” she says.

The book’s title, Day By Day, comes from a 1984 song of the same name by Canadian rock band Doug and the Slugs. The title is perfect for her memoire, she says. It describes Nichols’ approach to her recovery — taking things one day at a time — and it’s also one of her mother’s favourite songs.

The book’s title even has endorsement of one of the band’s members, keyboardist Simon Kendall, who helped her get the permission needed to reprint the song’s lyrics. In fact, Kendall even agreed to write the foreword to Nichols’ book, which is slated to be on sale through herwebsite in March.

On Feb. 8, Nichols and her mother flew to Calgary to attend a Doug and the Slugs concert. Before the group performed Day By Day, the members dedicated the song to Nichols. After the show, she and her mother were invited to meet the group.

Nichols has received lots of support from friends and family during her recovery and also from the company that manages Vermont Square, Responsive Health Management.

You can learn more about Nichols by visiting her website or Facebook page.“(They have been) incredibly supportive up to this day,” she says. “Specifically, the senior management and administrator have been a big part in my recovery. They are like family to me. Never did I expect such friendship and support from people I worked with. It truly is a great company to work with and for.”


Writer: Deron Hamel
Original Article:

Photo caption: Melissa Nichols poses with Doug and the Slugs keyboardist Simon Kendall after the band’s Feb. 8 performance in Calgary.

If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

KickStarter Success!

We did amazing! Thank you!

Although very apprehensive about sharing such a personal story, I feel as though with sharing knowledge comes power, so telling my story hushes the whispers and gives power of my story back to me, where it belongs. Being unable to work yet, this opportunity gives me the kickstart I need to get my book published independently! Without your support, it wouldn’t be possible. Article


540728_157128087789296_1918813736_nWhen it comes to health care, your doctor isn’t the only one is charge.

You, the patient, are in as much control as your doctor.

That is the message behind former health care professional Melissa Nichols’ first book, Day by Day.

The book started out as a journal of sorts, helping the Markham resident keep the days straight while re-learning how to perform basic functions, such as standing and walking.

In the fall of 2011, Ms Nichols, then 28, started to complain about headaches and blurry vision. She was told headaches were common when the seasons change.

She knew there was something wrong and sought a second opinion. She was then  referred to an optometrist.

“I went to see the optometrist and his face went white,” Ms Nichols said.

She was told to go to the hospital because her optical nerves were inflamed. She went to the hospital and was told she required emergency surgery to remove a blockage at the back of her head.

Following surgery, she learned it was a brain tumour.

She spent two weeks in the hospital recovering, followed by two weeks in a rehab centre where she required a wheelchair and had to re-learn walking.

“Writing became very therapeutic for me,” Ms Nichols said. “Writing down what happened on this day helped me keep the days straight. I was very vulnerable and confused, so writing was just for me.”

What started as a collection of dates and point-form notes morphed into a story about the instant transformation from a healthy go-getter to a dependent patient on the road to recovery.

Initially, the book was intended for her family, but her sister convinced Ms Nichols to try to have it published.

Through Kickstarter, an online funding forum for creative projects, Ms Nichols has raised more than $4,200 to help offset the costs of self-publishing.

With a background in health care, her story offers a different perspective for patients on how to be a better patient and how to take control of your health care.

“As the person receiving the care, you should be an active member in the care plan,” Ms Nichols said. “You have a meeting with the doctor. Not an appointment.”

A meeting implies dialogue from both sides, while a doctor’s appointment insinuates the doctor talking to you not with you, she added.

Another tip is to start a pain journal and write notes on how you’re feeling. Whenever you have a question, write it down. You could also type up the notes to give to your doctor.

“People always say, they don’t want to take up too much of the doctor’s time,” Ms Nichols said. “Asking questions is not a waste of time. When you go into the doctor’s office, you always forget something. So write it down. You want to leave the office feeling like you understand what the doctor said.”

When it comes to friends and family, the best advice is to educate those around you on your particular disease.

People want to know what’s going because they care, Ms Nichols said. But they don’t know what to say and instead ask, ‘What did the doctor say?’

“As someone who went through it, you read it and feel so vulnerable, so naked. How do you answer that?” she said. “I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about all the shallow things we used to talk about.”

That’s where education comes in. Educate friends and family on the effects of the disease, including how it will affect you personally.

She says a phone call is more meaningful than a text message.

“Someone messages you and asks, ‘How are you?’ and you respond ‘Fine’,” Ms Nichols said. “That person doesn’t know if you are crying or not. I would rather get encouragement texts without a question attached.”

She also advises patients not to feel ashamed when asking for help.

“The best support is the practical support,” she said. “Ego has nothing to do with asking for a ride to your medical appointment or asking a friend to fax or mail something for you.”

The Day by Day Kickstarter campaign ends tomorrow at 3:45 p.m.

For more information or to donate to Ms Nichols’ Kickstarter campaign, visit