Volunteer Gives Gift of Time Following Compassionate Cancer Treatment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

John McKee felt blessed. As he embarked on retirement, he wanted to give back and realized there was no better way than to move closer to the organization that's helped him navigate several health challenges.

"My life has been extended three times because of Mayo Clinic," John says.

First, John was undergoing a routine procedure when it was determined he needed an emergency bypass because of a blocked coronary artery. Then, surgeons repaired an aortic aneurysm they'd found during the emergency bypass. Finally, John came for cancer treatment after doctors discovered a tumor on his saliva glands.

John needed surgery and 30 radiation treatments. It was during the course of those treatments that a Mayo Clinic volunteer had a profound impact on John's life.

The experience moved John and inspired him to try to make a similar difference in someone else's life. In 2017, he and his wife, Rosemary, moved from Waverly, Iowa, to Rochester, Minnesota, so he could do just that.

"It's beyond description how I feel being with those patients," says John, who volunteers in the same radiation area where he was treated. "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."

Rosemary also is now volunteering with Mayo Clinic. Over 5,000 volunteers work at Mayo Clinic's locations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and across Mayo Clinic Health System.

Throughout Mayo Clinic, volunteers play a critical role in ensuring the needs of the patients come first. Volunteers help in more than 40 areas, including assisting patients and their families, offering information, and providing a source of encouragement at any point of care for those who need it.

"I am trying to give something back," John says. "It's incredible."

Philanthropy fuels the mission of Mayo Clinic. Visionary benefactors are the vital catalysts behind our pioneering patient care, breakthrough medical research and world-class educational programs.

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