Last September, John McKee was in a holding pattern of sorts. After 25 years of care at Mayo Clinic, including two major surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation to treat a tumor on his saliva glands, John wanted to return the favor. He wanted to give back by becoming a Mayo Clinic volunteer. John and his wife, Rosemary, even went so far as to sell their home in Waverly, Iowa, and move into temporary housing while they waited for exactly the right place in Rochester to become available.
This spring, they got the condo they were looking for, and spent a couple months renovating it. As their renovation work began to enter the home stretch, John made a phone call to Mayo Clinic Volunteer Services. "I’d had some initial dialogue with Becky Hynes when we first started talking about moving to Rochester, so I called her again to let her know that we were just about done but that I needed to finish our house projects before I started volunteering," John says.
"Then I met with her," John says, "and it was incredible." When Hynes, coordinator for Mayo Clinic’s Volunteer Programs in Rochester, pulled up a listing of the times of places where she needed the most volunteer help, one location immediately stood out. "There was an opening from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons at Desk R in the very Radiation area where I’d taken my own radiation treatments," John tells us. "I asked Becky if there was any way that I could have that one." A couple mouse clicks later, it was his. "I honestly couldn’t believe it," he says.
John tells us he has a hard time believing that he’s now allowed to use Mayo Clinic’s staff entrances to share his time, passion and experiences with others going through the same things he went through himself.
"It’s beyond description how I feel being with those patients," John tells us. "I think I’ve heard the bell ring four times now, and whenever I hear it, I hustle over there and try to take their picture for them, because when you ring that bell to signal the end of your radiation treatments, it’s a feeling like no other. I was one of the lucky ones. And so here I am trying to give something back, and it’s incredible."
John’s supervisor seems pretty happy to have him around, too. "His story is inspiring," Hynes tells us. "During his interview, John spoke highly of Mayo Clinic's employees and volunteers. It was clear he was genuinely grateful to Mayo Clinic and committed to giving back as a volunteer. While volunteering at Desk R, he’ll have an innate ability to relate to patients because he’s been in their shoes."
You can join John, if you’re so inclined, by checking out Mayo Clinic’s volunteer opportunities. Then, be of service to us by sharing your comments below before using the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.