Jim Hulet makes an hour-long drive (one-way) from his home in Palm Coast, Florida, each day to his workplace in Mayberry. Okay, it's in Jacksonville, not Mayberry, but Jim says his workplace at Mayo Clinic hospital in Florida has that kind of hometown feel. It seems 18 years of working with folks who come to be friends will do that. "It's my Mayberry," he says. And the hometown team rallied around Jim this past summer like a small town rallies around the grand marshal in a parade.
In this case, the hometown team was rallying to help Jim get some relief from medical bills that have been piling up in his drawn-out battle with T-cell lymphoma. Rallied might not be exactly the right word, however, according to Jim. "You can't even say they've rallied around me, because they never left," he says. "They were always here with me." The support he's seen all throughout his battle, he tells us, "could not be more awesome."
The latest show of support came after some of Jim's co-workers got together to put out the word about "helping a colleague raise money and awareness in his battle with cancer." It started with the Surgical ICU council, according to AJ Paraon, who works with Jim. "The plan was initially to do a bake and raffle sale," Paraon says. Soon, there also were "Jim's Baskets" and a raffle, dinners and lunches. And word spread throughout the hospital. "The response that we got was phenomenal," Paraon tells us. Jim knew his colleagues were up to something, but he wasn't quite sure what. Keeping it on the q.t. was easier during those weeks when Jim was off in neighboring states working on Habitat for Humanities projects.
Jim's battle with T-cell lymphoma started in 2005 with what appeared to be just a rash -- his is a subtype that mimics other skin disorders -- and brought him through various treatments, including ultraviolet radiation, chemo cream spot treatment, and eventually electron beam therapy, with varying degrees of success. (He's about to start another round of electron beam therapy he hopes will put it behind him.) Eventually, the medical bills started piling up, and he began to fall behind. The $3,300 his co-workers raised this summer will "put a big old dent in those medical bills," he says. And he couldn't be more grateful for that.
"They've been very supportive since day one," Jim says. "This is the place to work, and these are the people to work with … It's great to be a part of this organization." That feeling is mutual. "He is such a great co-worker and we are more than happy to do it, the only way we can," says Paraon.
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