Etheridge and mtvU surprise UCLA cancer biology students

Thursday, October 6th 2005, 11:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The 300 UCLA cancer biology students shifted in their seats as they waited for class to begin. Then came a loud knock on the door and in walked a surprise guest professor _ Melissa Etheridge.

``Good afternoon,'' Etheridge said Wednesday afternoon as she smiled at the undergraduates.

Some students gasped, others clapped.

For an hour, the 44-year-old singer delved into her emotional, yearlong battle with breast cancer _ from the rousing performance she delivered at the Grammy Awards in February to hating chemotherapy and having to tell her children she might die.

``I've been a rock star since you were very young,'' said Etheridge. ``But I've never encountered anything as powerful as cancer.''

The visit, filmed for MTV's college network mtvU, will air Oct. 17.

``We're all a big fan of hers. We're looking for icons,'' mtvU's Stephen Friedman said.

Mostly female students questioned Etheridge, and her frank responses drew laughter _ and tears.

``Were you afraid to die?'' asked one student.

``I don't fear death. I have a lot more to do,'' Etheridge answered.

Of what it was like to go through chemotherapy and surgery, Etheridge pointed to her scars and said even her ears hurt during treatment.

``I couldn't turn music on, which broke my heart,'' she said.

Other guest professors on mtvU's ``Stand-In'' series have included Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Shimon Peres, Tom Wolfe and Marilyn Manson.