In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 24, 2014

Team Ginny – A show of support for one of their own

By In the Loop


Ginny Kelley with Drs. David Zapala, Larry Lundy and David Walker

If there’s comfort in knowing your care team, Ginny Kelley must have felt like she was visiting an old friend when, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April, she went in for a double mastectomy and started chemotherapy. Because, well, the Otolaryngology nurse at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus was going to see old friends, even if she might have had trouble recognizing a few of them.

Ginny tells us she had her surgery in “the very room where I work with Dr. (Larry) Lundy. I knew each of the staff members in the OR. It could not have been a better experience.” Not only that, but “the Oncology ward on the 8th Floor is a well-oiled machine! They are a professional and caring group of people.” She also notes that, “I have never once been worried during this experience.” That’s due in part to one of her surgeons, Sarah McLaughlin, M.D., telling her from the start that “this is treatable and curable.”

It’s also due to the support she received from her co-workers, including three who shaved their heads to show their support and solidarity. Dr. Lundy, along with David Zapala, Ph.D., and audiologist David Walker, Au.D., three medical professionals Ginny regularly works with, created a bit of a buzz (see how we did that?) by showing off their shiny domes. Ryan Hutchinson, M.D., a resident from a neighboring unit, also shaved his head. “It meant the world to me!” Ginny tells us. “I am humbled and flattered by the love and attention I am receiving. I feel it every day. Staff members are constantly checking on me, sending texts at home, bringing me dinners on my chemo weekends. This is very humbling, and I am blessed to work with such caring and loving people.”

Her team feels the same way about Ginny. Shaving their heads was a way “to let her know we support her 100 percent,” says Dr. Lundy. “The good people around us are the reason we thrive,” adds Dr. Zapala. “This was just a quiet way of saying, ‘Fight on, we’re pulling for you ... and, yeah, we are kind of fond of you.’" And Dr. Walker tells us, "Ginny is an amazing, strong individual, fantastic co-worker, and compassionate friend … It's an honor to be part of Team Ginny and support her in such a small way."

The support has given Ginny confidence and an enthusiasm to celebrate the next step. “I will get through this and get on with my life,” she says. In fact, she’s already training for a half-marathon in September in New York. “That’s how confident I am that I can get through this and get right back on track,” she says. And to get her off and running, “My husband and I will be hosting a ‘NO MO CHEMO’ party for all our friends and co-workers after my last chemo treatment!”

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Tags: Breast Cancer, David Walker, Dr. David Zapala, Dr. Larry Lundy, Dr. Ryan Hutchinson, Dr. Sarah McLaughlin, Employee Stories, Ginny Kelley, Jacksonville, Mayo Clinic in Florida, Oncology, Patient Stories

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