Section: Highlights

In a Father’s Footsteps

06/13/2019
In a Father’s Footsteps

This Father's Day, families will gather to celebrate and acknowledge the importance and influence of dads—and for the McCoy family, it will have special significance.

“Our dad not only gave us a love of medicine, he provided a powerful example of how to do it right,” explains Michael McCoy, MD, who, like his father Robert, is a general surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center. But the family legacy within St. Jude’s surgical suites doesn’t end there: each of Dr. Robert McCoy’s three daughters have careers there as well.

“Growing up we saw how fulfilling my dad found his work—and it inspired us,” says Jamie McCoy Casias, PA-C, Vascular Surgery. “He found such joy in improving people’s lives and I think we all thought, ‘I want that too.’”

As children they often accompanied their dad to St. Jude on Saturdays, waiting at the nurses’ station as he rounded on patients. “Looking back, there was so much we absorbed from simply watching him,” explains Emily McCoy, PA-C, Gynecology Oncology, Specialty Surgery. “His humility, the respect and kindness he shows patients and staff, the high standard he holds himself to—these are all things we now try to bring to our own interactions.”

What’s interesting about those qualities is their similarity to the list Dr. McCoy offers of what he learned from his own father, Gordon McCoy, MD, who joined St. Jude in 1960 as one of the hospital’s first general surgeons. Gordon was widely-known for his commitment and compassion, evident every time he donated blood for his patients before performing surgery or visited them at home to check on their progress. “My dad loved St. Jude and loved his patients—and they loved him,” explains Dr. Robert McCoy, who shares that accomplishment with his father.

Gordon died before getting to see his grandchildren in St. Jude’s operating rooms, but patients and staff who knew him often share stories of his remarkable dedication and work ethic. “My grandfather, like my father, was a very humble man,” explains Amanda McCoy Belgram, RN, Surgery. “It’s from the stories of others that we’ve learned just how unique he was—and how fortunate we are to be a part of his legacy.”

For the McCoy’s, five individuals from the same family in the same department creates a work environment filled with moments of pride, companionship and support. “Some of my favorite days are when I can assist on one of my father’s or brother’s surgeries, and have my sister working as a circulating nurse on the same case,” explains Emily. “There’s something special about doing work that you love with the people you love.”

Dr. Robert McCoy agrees. “My kids have a goodness about them and a compassion toward others that make it a privilege to watch them succeed,” explains the father of six and grandfather of two. “Surgery can often be life-changing for patients and to share the experience of curing or healing with my children is a gift.”

When the McCoys gather this Sunday, an overheard compliment may get shared, a success may be celebrated and some advice may be offered. But some things won’t need to be spoken: like the joy and value this family finds in elevating patients’ lives by following the footsteps of a previous generation.