In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

May 1, 2018

Nurses Rally Around Colleague Diagnosed With Cancer

By In the Loop

Greg Redmond and his family faced a number of uncertainties after he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. But one thing was clear: his colleagues wouldn't let the Redmonds go through it alone.

When Greg Redmond was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in September 2016, he understood better than most what the diagnosis meant. So did his colleagues in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at Mayo Clinic, where Greg had worked for eight years as a registered nurse. "When he was diagnosed, his colleagues wrapped around him like a glove," says Michelle Redmond, Greg's wife. They visited him in the hospital after surgery. They drove him to radiation appointments for six weeks. And when the news came, far too quickly, that the cancer would end Greg's life, they made sure he'd spend his final days on his own terms. "They didn't run away," Michelle says.

Just after Christmas, the Redmonds learned the cancer had spread to Greg's spine and that time would be measured in days, not months or years. Michelle, also a nurse at Mayo Clinic, could see her husband's life slipping away. And she knew he wouldn't want to spend his last days in the hospital. "I knew deep down that Greg wanted to go home," Michelle tells us. She wanted to honor his wishes, but wasn't sure she would be able to provide the care he needed. That's when Greg's colleagues made a tender offer. "They told me they'd take care of him," Michelle says. "They told me to bring him home."

So Michelle did, moving a bed into the family's living room for Greg and surrounding it with air mattresses for the couple's three children. For six days and five nights, Greg's colleagues were there to care for him around the clock. "They came in on their days off," Michelle says. "They went above and beyond for Greg. They put everything on hold to do this for him."

While they lovingly attended their colleague, Greg's coworkers also cared for his children: Carson, Connor and Kasey, then 14, 12 and 9. "They'd tell the kids what their dad was like at work," Michelle says. When Greg could no longer communicate, his colleagues explained that he could still hear. "They told the kids to talk to their dad, to hold his hand." And when Greg passed away, they cared for Michelle, too, staying with her for several hours after his passing.

More than a year after Greg's death, Michelle tells us she still can't put into words how much his colleagues' support meant to her. But she recently found one way to recognize their efforts. She nominated them for a Karis Award from the Mayo Clinic Values Council, which honors Mayo staff who "live out the Mayo Clinic Values in an extraordinary way," according to the program's website. The group received the award, and Michelle and her children were on hand for the surprise presentation. "There wasn't a dry eye in the place," she tells us.

"I've worked at Mayo Clinic for a long time and always knew the capabilities of Mayo employees," says Michelle, whose own colleagues supported the family by providing meals throughout Greg's illness and for months afterward. "But this experience showed me that deep down, people at Mayo really truly care about each other. They look out for each other. I had the best hands in the world taking care of Greg."

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Tags: Brain Cancer, Brain Tumor, Employee Stories, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mayo Clinic Values Council, Michelle Redmond

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. It's exactly what should happen for Mayo employees facing such serious illnesses. The support shown to Greg, Michelle, and their children brought me to tears. Support/needs of the patient should apply to employees who are patients also–I hope all supervisors will realize this wonderful "Mayo" trait. What a great team of people.

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