When Melissa Bumstead’s daughter Grace, 4, was diagnosed with Leukemia this past spring, they had no idea how they would tell her about the realities of the chemotherapy treatment she would be receiving, and that she would soon be losing her beautiful, curly hair.
When a nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles gave little Grace a bald doll named Ella, aka “Chemo Barbie”, to help her understand what to expect from chemotherapy treatment, her mother cried.
“Ella has two fancy wigs, a headscarf, and a headband. She is in a very fancy dress and still looks like a beautiful Barbie that any child would be excited to play with…and relate to,” said Melissa.
Astonished by the comfort the doll brought her little girl, Melissa was disappointed to learn that the hospital only had six dolls available for their young chemo patients.
“I know how much this doll helped us bridge a very hard topic and I know how much this doll will be a special friend to our daughter once her hair falls out. Every chemotherapy patient should have access to such an important and beautiful doll,” Melissa explained.
The limited edition Ella dolls, created by Mattel, were donated to a handful of hospitals across the country, and the company never intended to make them again. But, that was before Melissa and Grace took the web and started a change.org petition urging the company to reproduce the dolls.
The petition took off quickly, garnering over 100,000 signatures in less than three months. Mattel was listening and responded. The company recently announced it is committed to reproducing the dolls, and will deliver new shipments every year to hospitals, charities, and foundations. The first shipment will be made in August.
In a victory statement Melissa shared, “This means that every year hospitals and foundations will receive a fresh supply of dolls, so there will be more Ellas for kids with cancer like Grace!”
Bravo to Melissa and Grace for their incredible effort and win! After slipping sales and the less than stellar launch of Entrepreneur Barbie last month, Mattel has finally taken a step in the right direction.