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 as she smiled at the
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
The visit, filmed
for MTV's college network mtvU, will air October 17.
"We're all a big fan of hers. We're looking for icons,"
mtvU's Stephen Friedman said.
females, 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.
professors on mtvU's "Stand-In" series have included
Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Shimon Peres, Tom Wolfe, and Marilyn
Manson. (Solvej Schou, AP)