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WakeMed Strong

Amazing people work at WakeMed, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. A perfect example is WakeMed Rehabilitation’s Karen Medlin.  Karen has never met a stranger – just ask her colleagues in Rehab who have worked with her for the past 11 ½ years.  Filled with a love of life, people and the Lord, Karen has infused hundreds of patients with courage, hope and strength as they battled back from debilitating illness and injury.  

When Karen was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2011, she brought that same fight to the table.  And so did her co-workers.  The news of Karen’s first cancer surgery ignited that special WakeMed pride among members of the WakeMed Rehab team, who constructed a powerful yet personal support system for the entire Medlin family.  

Amy Aycock, a colleague of Karen Medlin's, wears the "Medlin's Maniacs" T-shirt.

Upon hearing the news that Karen would be having her first surgery, Karen’s co-workers rallied.  They formed Medlin’s Maniacs and made T-shirts in support of her battle.  With a tongue-in-cheek semicolon emblazoned on the front and the words “Medlin’s Maniacs” as well as a scripture reading on the back, the T-shirts were worn by the team on the day before Karen’s surgery to show united support for Karen and her battle.  Her co-workers also presented Karen with a huge team photo so she would know that every single person in that picture had her back.

Over the past few years, Karen has had more surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy.  But she has also had a trip to the mountains, lots of cards, even more prayers and the joyous feeling of love and support from her WakeMed team.  After every setback, she returned to WakeMed with more fight and determination than after the last.  

In February, Karen notified WakeMed leadership that she made the decision to discontinue treatment.  She scheduled her last day of active employment for February 28.  Though saddened by the news, Medlin’s Maniacs threw Karen a party to celebrate her amazing spirit, relentless joy and strength.  A crowd of more than 100 family members, friends and co-workers turned out in WakeMed colors (red, black and gray) to wish Karen the best.  The morning was filled with food, kind words and wishes, laughter, tears and hugs.  Karen’s co-workers even surprised her with a huge flash mob performance to the tune of “We Are Family.”  

Karen’s WakeMed support system is limitless.  It is a testament to the inspirational person she truly is and just one example of how the WakeMed team pulls together for their patients and loved ones.

Another example of Karen’s strong, but zany support group, is this flash mob coordinated by her colleagues in her honor.